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Joe Swenson

Making Madder Lake Question

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I want to try David Rubio's recipe for making Madder Lake. I also found a MN thread on the same subject.  http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/315956-lets-make-some-madder-lake/

 

Bot use root which are in chunks and pieces.  I have Madder Root powder as a starting point.  My presumption is that thiswill reduce the cooking time which is stated to be about 36 hours for the first step.  

 

So my question seeing this is my first batch, is how long should I cook the madder powder and potash?  I'm sure 36 hours will be too long for a powdered madder.  My wife will be very nervous as well if I have to leave anything unattended on a burner overnight, even if the solution is water based.

 

There must be an indicator to tell when the reaction is gone as far as its going to go.

 

Thanks,

Joe

 

Also is tap water which contains lime a bad thing to use?  I have purified bottled water but it seems lime can be useful in some circumstances but probably not in solution with water. It was certainly a bad think for trying to make Gum Arabic solution - so I've found out.

 

:)

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You don't want to make this yourself:

http://www.kremer-pigmente.com/media/files_public/madder-lake-production.pdf

You should buy madder on tube, artist grade. Or use madder pigment and grind very well with some drops of the same linseed oil you use for varnish cooking. When you make this oil paint youself by grinding, you won't get it as smooth and perfect as bought on tube. This is really beautiful as the pigments glitter in the sun.

I learned varnishing last summer :) look at my bench

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You don't want to make this yourself:

http://www.kremer-pigmente.com/media/files_public/madder-lake-production.pdf

You should buy madder on tube, artist grade. Or use madder pigment and grind very well with some drops of the same linseed oil you use for varnish cooking. When you make this oil paint youself by grinding, you won't get it as smooth and perfect as bought on tube. This is really beautiful as the pigments glitter in the sun.

I learned varnishing last summer :) look at my bench

 

It seems like a bit of work, true... but certainly safer than varnish making.   ;)

I found a different version of the recipe which explains things better.... so I may have answered my own question.

 

Cheers,

Joe

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Joseph ,no reason not to try making it yourself its rather simple ,just a little messy.Where did you get the 36 hours cooking time from??? You shouldnt really boil it ,just on the verge of simmering for an hour or or a bit more is enough. Also if you add some normal 5% household vinegar to the madder root and let it soak overnight ,it should improve the yield a little and intensity of colour. The French used to char it black with conc. sulphuric acid  to make something called `Garance`. It doesnt damage the alizarin but increases the amount of alizarin dye available by around 50%.

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I was even on the impression that the heating step was mosly there to get the most of the madder from chopped roots. If you already have powder, you don't really need to go through that step. You can simply put the powder in the potash (the color will instantly turn ruby red) and leave it like this for as long as you wish without heating. then when you have time you can go on with the process (filtering the mix, adding the alum to precipitate, and washing the madder lake.)

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Joseph ,no reason not to try making it yourself its rather simple ,just a little messy.Where did you get the 36 hours cooking time from??? You shouldnt really boil it ,just on the verge of simmering for an hour or or a bit more is enough. Also if you add some normal 5% household vinegar to the madder root and let it soak overnight ,it should improve the yield a little and intensity of colour. The French used to char it black with conc. sulphuric acid  to make something called `Garance`. It doesnt damage the alizarin but increases the amount of alizarin dye available by around 50%.

 

Thanks also thought that as well.  I still have to pick up a pigment muller.

 

I got the 36 hours directly from David Rubio's Recipe on his website: 

 

"Bring your vessel containing the water, Potash and Madder Root up to a temperature of 40-45 degrees C. If the pot reaches as high as 50C for a short period, no harm will result. Above that temperature the carbohydrate part of the Alizarin chain will break away, resulting in a less transparent pigment with too much tendency towards brown.

 

Once the pot has reached the recommended temperature, maintain this for the next 36 hours, stirring vigorously from time to time. I suggest at least once a day, more won't hurt.

 

After 36 hours of warming, pour the entire contents into a sieve, which is resting on a bucket that is lined with a fine cotton bag..."

 

The other recipe I found which was from Michael Darnton. Apparently someone downloaded his varnish chapter from violinmag.com before he removed it to revise it,  I assume the Madder recipe is good since its so simple.  He uses Lye as opposed to Potash, and no heat.  Also discussed how the precipitation works and getting the right amount of alum in the mix to precipitate all the color so as not to have to wash the madder residue over and over like in Rubio's method - which did seem very complicated

 

Question:  In Seth's thread  which I see you just posted to, :) he mentions the desire to try and boil off the remaining vinegar.  Is there an issue of vinegar residue in the madder root when adding water and the potash to the madder do the color extraction?

.

I was even on the impression that the heating step was mostly there to get the most of the madder from chopped roots. If you already have powder, you don't really need to go through that step. You can simply put the powder in the potash (the color will instantly turn ruby red) and leave it like this for as long as you wish without heating. then when you have time you can go on with the process (filtering the mix, adding the alum to precipitate, and washing the madder lake.)

As in Michael's directions he mentions he's had a batch going under his bench for several years. It seems that the reaction will stop producing more color in the sort term and continued aging of the mix wouldn't add much to the results.

I got my Alum from the grocery store - used for pickling. Wondering if there are any additives that would be detrimental. I saw reference to picking some up in the camera store in the film developer's section... amazing that people still use film. I bought alum from the drugstore when I was a kid to grow some crystals... wondering if they still sell it.

 

Thanks!

Joe

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I got my Alum from the grocery store - used for pickling. Wondering if there are any additives that would be detrimental. I saw reference to picking some up in the camera store in the film developer's section... amazing that people still use film. I bought alum from the drugstore when I was a kid to grow some crystals... wondering if they still sell it.

You can purchase alum(inum sulfate) at Lowes or Home Depot in the landscape/gardening section. That's what I use. I don't know if the pickling stuff is the same or what is in it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/281201406972?lpid=82

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Another and I think far simpler way to make a very useful red lake pigment from madder is the way I describe here;  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.603610253023810.1073741832.146764275375079&type=3
In my experience of making pigments for more then twenty years the way David describes results in a very hard pigment that is a lot of work to grind into an oil medium, my way produces a much easier pigment to work with.
I knew David well and spent a lot of time chatting about our different methods, he was fairly sure my way would not be as lightfast or transparent, but over the years using pigments made this way I have never had problems with either of these aspects.
 

neil

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I got very good results both with chunks and powder, and never really cooked it. You just need to leave it somewhere for a few days an stir it when you think of it.

I think using chunks is just a guarantee that you really have madder and not too much dust.

The part I don't like is filtering the powder out as it blocks filters very quickly and you need to do that really well. I don't use the colour extract as long as it hasn't gone freely through a coffee filter, as it's what I then use to filter the pigments.

And the grinding takes long and is of major importance. But that's another story.

For varnish like in the kitchen, I like to pick up my ingredients and cook them myself whenever it's possible.

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``Question:  In Seth's thread  which I see you just posted to, :) he mentions the desire to try and boil off the remaining vinegar.  Is there an issue of vinegar residue in the madder root when adding water and the potash to the madder do the color extraction?``

 

No problem with the vinegar , all its doing is releasing more alizarin from the root .After soaking it can be basically ignored.

Much alizarin is locked into madder which is bonded to  carbohydrates. This will be just wasted if you dont add the acid. The acid causes hydrolysis of the carbohydrate ,it splits the carbohydrate into sugar and other molecules including alizarin.

Water does the same job which is probably why Rubio suggested heating for so long, adding vinegar or very dilute sulphuric acid does a better job and faster.

Neils method probably works fine ,just that alot of alizarin is wasted without the `hydrolysis step`.

Other methods of hydrolsis was fermenting the madder in piles dampened with vinegar or other acid.

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My espresso method removes all the hassle of filtering at this stage and also reduces the days to less then a minuet to extract the colour.

Also the hot extraction I do means the grinding becomes very very easy and fast.

I’m not sure what difference the “wasted alizarin” makes….all I know is from all the many methods I have used my present way gets the best results for me.

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I’ve no idea the reasons it is easier to grind, but it amalgamates into the varnish incredibly easily with none of the problems of grinding the very hard lumps I have found with the vast majority of commercial pigments and the ones I have made with “cold extraction” methods….. from that I have assumed the hot extraction is responsible for its ease of use.

I am quite sure there are many here who know far more about the chemistry behind the various systems, all I have to offer is years of experience using and trying a variety of different methods. 

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Neil wasted alizarin is what it sounds like `it goes down the drain  or  in the waste bin. You can make more lake of a similar intensity of colour with the amount of madder root you start with. Or make a much stronger coloured lake . Madder  root is not as cheap as it used to be (i used to buy several kg`s of it at a time to experiment with ) and i dont like wasting it.

If you get good results then thats fine ,im just pointing out the waste.

In the 19th century before synthetic alizarin was introduced ,the hydrolysis methods could increase the yield by often up to 200-300 % .

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Hi fiddle collector, yes I understand what “wasted” means, the point I am making is that whatever the theory is I have not been able to find any pigments commercially available or made by colleagues (and I have tried lots and lots from very many colleagues) that are any more intense then the ones I make with my system.

It may well be that I could save a few pennies with a different system but to be honest the way I make colours means I am spending a tiny amount on the quantity of pigment I need to varnish a violin and it is considerably cheaper then buying from one of the commercial producers... and in my experience my results are far easier to use.

I’d love to try your colours to make a comparison ....and very possibly find yours even better then the ones I am making.

Till then I just wanted to point out that making pigments my way is very very easy and the results in my experience are far better then any I have bought.

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There is really no need to have to grind lake pigments at all. After you collect the lake and let it dry into a mud-like state just pour a little linseed oil on top of it and stir it up well. At first the mixture will look really muddy but as the remaining water evaporates it will start to turn clear, you might have to add a little more oil at this point. After all of the water evaporates you should have a clear lake-oil mixture with no grinding.

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Hi Wm. Johnson, yes that system works well to replace grinding, but the reason I don’t like it is I prefer to grind directly into varnish rather then linseed oil….with the small amounts required to varnish an instrument I feel the amount of linseed oil used to grind (or store) the pigment it will  fairly substantially change the ratio of oil to resin balance in the final coat leaving me pretty lost just quite how much of what I am using.

Hi Janito, I have bought from various places over the years without too much variation in the final results (though I do prefer working with raw root that needs grinding in a coffee grinder to start with) …. but the stuff I have been using for the last five years or so is from a company here in the UK called George Weil.

neil

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My espresso method removes all the hassle of filtering at this stage and also reduces the days to less then a minuet to extract the colour.

 

 

Yes, but what does your next coffee taste like??

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You can purchase alum(inum sulfate) at Lowes or Home Depot in the landscape/gardening section. That's what I use. I don't know if the pickling stuff is the same or what is in it.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/281201406972?lpid=82

 

Thanks.  I'll check it out. It certainly is cheaper than what the charge for "spices" in Safeway.

 

 

 

Another and I think far simpler way to make a very useful red lake pigment from madder is the way I describe here;  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.603610253023810.1073741832.146764275375079&type=3
In my experience of making pigments for more then twenty years the way David describes results in a very hard pigment that is a lot of work to grind into an oil medium, my way produces a much easier pigment to work with.
I knew David well and spent a lot of time chatting about our different methods, he was fairly sure my way would not be as lightfast or transparent, but over the years using pigments made this way I have never had problems with either of these aspects.
 

neil

 

 

Thanks Neil,  

 

I also have my stuff on Facebook.  https://www.facebook.com/SwensonViolins  Its a pretty nice way to share info.  I was looking through your madder making photos.  I initially was assuming you loaded the espresso machine with the potassium carbonate solution to extract the color from the madder as the hot potash solution dripped through the madder root powder.  When I browsed forward it was clear you put the potash solution and alum solution in together at the same time in the hot water extracted espresso solution.  

 

So does that mean the two chemicals can work independently and simultaneously with other?  The potash extracts the color and it is immediately precipitated by the alum in solution?  This looks very simple for sure.  Can you provide a little more detail if I am wrong in my assumptions?  

 

I can see FiddleCollector's concern about wasting pigment that might remain in the madder after a single pass of hot water through the madder grounds.  So have you tried multiple passes to get more color? In other words run more hot water through the same grounds?  You add water afterwards anyway so why not dilute on the front end of the process with additional pigment solution from the espresso machine?

 

Joe

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Hi Joe, no I don’t add the two solutions at the same time…the espresso machine has just water in it, I initially add my alum solution to the expressed madder and then potassium carbonate…..they are not added together.

You can make as many passes as you like through the madder, I find after about two or three it starts to lose strength considerably, and once the alum and potassium have reacted together in the expressed madder solution my understanding is that it makes no sense to add more madder solution as it will not be fixed to anything.

Like I said in an earlier post, the costs doing it this way really are minimal compared to buying madder pigment, and because the results are so much better then anything I have ever found for sale it really is a no brainer for me to make my own colours.

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Although there might be some variations in the hue in various brands, madder lake is pretty cheap (of course some specialist distributors like Kremer will charge more than others). I don't think that the price is the main reason to make it yourself. It's just nice to try once to see.

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I just want to mention this book in case somebody isn't aware of it-   "COLOR CAULDRON"   author is Sue Grierson, 1986. It is a history dyes and dyeing in Scotland, under 250pp,  full of interesting facts about dyes and related subjects. Very easy reading.  fred

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