Phasing out Zinc White?
“I read a report from a manufacturer about using zinc white causing problems in oil paintings, and they are phasing out the usage of it. Any thoughts about it?”
Indeed we have after much consideration decided to err on the side of caution and cease making it. It has also been removed from our mixed colours such as brilliant pink. For more information please feel free to contact us.
The Tate Gallery
Working with the conservation scientist Joyce Townsend, I was asked to formulate a 99.9% pure flake white paint which incorporated, as pigment, a lead carbonate we had made specifically for this purpose. Every aspect of its manufacture had to be considered, so as to replicate in every way the characteristics of paint in the late 18th and early 19th century. Our intention was thereby to produce a paint so pure and free from anachronistic additions that it could be used as a positive control sample with which to compare the minute detachments of paint removed from paintings during restoration.
On this occasion I was approached by the architectural paint researcher Helen Hughes who was part of the English Heritage team endeavouring to analyse, and so to reproduce, various colours which constituted the original decorative schemes uncovered during the restoration of Danson House, a grade 1 listed villa built in London in the 1760’s. With the help of contemporary documentation of colours which would have been familiar to 18th century architects and designers, our intention was to match as closely as possible the nature and formulation of paint originally used. To this end I was asked to produce a Naples Yellow and a Yellow Ochre specifically to recreate the paint finishes.
Environmental Research For Art Conservation
This project was initiated by a consortium of galleries and Birkbeck College, London University, with the aim of evaluating the air quality of the indoor environments of museums, art galleries and historic houses containing paintings.
Tests for ascertaining air quality involved the preparation of control samples comprising selected pigment and paint media which were then exposed to determined levels of known pollutant agents. Their behaviour on ageing could then be assessed by means of a molecular monitoring system.