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Beginner question---open to the possibility of some minor facepalming

 

Ok, so partly as a cost-saving measure and partly for novelty and fun, I've tried my hand at making my own lake pigments. I've got lakes of beet root, poinsettia, brazilwood, red cabbage... all made the usual way, with potash alum and sodium carbonate.

As far as I can tell, they came out pretty good. Fine particle size, decent colour strength. As a test, I tried mixing some of them into some Tried and True oil varnish (just what I happen to have, basically linseed oil and pine resin afaik) using a spoon to mix and press the pigments into the oil. No matter what I did, though, the pigment would not incorporate into the varnish. What I was left with was basically a slurry with lots of flakes sticking together in suspension, and a dull brown colour which did not come through in thin coats at all.

 

Is there a trick I'm missing? I have ground these pigments by hand in a mortar and pestle. Is that simply not fine enough?

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As the creator of Tried & True Varnish Oil...

This product is not conducive to pigmentation.  The wetting properties are insufficient to your purpose.   Also it is not recommended as an instrument finish.

on we go,

Joe

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6 hours ago, joerobson said:

As the creator of Tried & True Varnish Oil...

This product is not conducive to pigmentation.  The wetting properties are insufficient to your purpose.   Also it is not recommended as an instrument finish.

on we go,

Joe

No kidding? I used T&T back when I made boutique furniture, particularly on things like burled table tops. Cool! I (virtually) know the guy who created it! 
 

Sorry to the OP for the hijack. 
 

OP: when mulling pigments into varnish, I grind a small amount of it dry (very slowly and carefully, and wear a mask) for a long time (10 mins). Then add a little varnish, a little turp, and mull more. I always have a straight-edged razor blade to scrape the mixture back into a pile and then mull more.

 

When mulling dry, do not, under any circumstances, quickly drop the muller onto the glass. The dry pigment WILL shoot out from under the muller and you’ll lose your hard-earned pigment. 

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57 minutes ago, David Burgess said:

Not if I attach the muller to my Sawzall. :)

Hey, do those work for applying the varnish, too? If you stuck a brush on there and the job could be done from mulling to finish in 5 minutes flat.

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