Calligraphy: A Scribe's Notes Art Blog
Eco Friendly Acrylic GouacheAcrylic gouache may not be new but this product is new. Manufactured in the US by Earth Safe Finishes. This non toxic, low VOC acrylic gouache comes in a jar as a white base that dries clear with a matte finish. Color is then added to the base in the form of highly pigmented dyes. I really like the delivery method of a colorless base that can be tinted and all the colorants can be cross-used with all the other mediums.
Adding Color I put the gouache through a series of tests to see how it would perform and I was very impressed. I started with very little, maybe one half teaspoon in a dappen dish. To that, I added colorants in this case a blue, a black, a white and a green. The colorants come in 22 colors and are easily mixed for custom colors. Colorants are so highly pigmented that they should be added one drop at a time to achieve the right intensity. I mixed very little of each color because acrylic cannot be reconstituted after it dries. Tiny jars would be ideal for storage, I kept the blue over a week, hydrated and covered with plastic wrap. I got carried away with the green, so I guess I__™ll have to use that up on some project. Colorants and mediums can be used on fabric but also check out their other product Fabric Magic.
Consistency in Writing Water was added a drop at a time to get to a proper writing viscosity. It was neither gloppy or slimey like some acrylic inks can be. I wrote with pointed pen and Mitchell nibs on a variety of paper colors, weights and surfaces. Charcoal paper in a tan, Diploma Parchment, dark green Fabriano and lots of different envelope stock. I had no trouble with any combination. I was able to pull fine hairlines and maintain a consistent opaque color even when thinned down. You can water it down so much that it can be used as a glaze and the written over or vice versa. The White was a bit disappointing, I had hoped for a really true opaque white, but the white colorant like most whites was a little too transparent on dark papers. It showed up just fine, but I would have preferred a more highly pigmented white.
Shimmers Another product by Earth Safe is Shimmers, pearlescent gel mediums. It comes as Shimmer Opaque, and Shimmer Translucent each comes in 12 colors. I added a little Shimmer White Translucent to regular gouache and it did shimmer a bit, I could have used more, it also made the regular gouache dry waterproof. Shimmer Opaque was added to the blue acrylic gouache and that dried with a beautiful soft shimmer. Colorants can be added to the shimmers as well and I can__™t wait to try them as backgrounds and on paste papers.
Waterproof Like a good acrylic should, the fluid, as glaze or opaque, stayed put even when soaked. This gouache dries very rapidly to a matte finish, you won__™t have to wait or worry about off set. I even used it on glossy photo paper, hairlines are not possible but it wrote well, dried fast and stayed in place. It dries very rapidly on the nib too so a wipe down now and then keeps the line crisp.
Clean Up Earth Safe Hand and Brush Cleaner did a great job on the mixing brushes, my hands and the nibs. I only needed a tablespoon in a small dish and let the brushes and nibs soak for a minute or two while I cleaned my hands. The cleaner took even old paint out of my brushes that other cleaners did not. The nibs needed a once over with a soft toothbrush and they were perfect.
So What? There are lots of acrylic gouaches, gel mediums, dyes and cleaners out there and most are labeled Non Toxic. I was surprised to learn that there are 100,000 synthetic organic compounds associated with artists products. A product can be labeled Non Toxic and still contain harmful amounts of VOC__™s.
Environmentally Responsible All Earth Safe products are manufactured with low or no VOC__™s (Volatile Organic Compounds). These are common organic substances that evaporate at room temperature. They keep paint in liquid form and help the paint dry quickly from a liquid to a solid. The evaporation process is called off gassing and can continue to release gasses for months after the paint has dried. Biocides are the preservatives that keep these same products from spoiling, these too can off gas and cause reactions. Artists with chemical sensitivity can use Earth Safe products safely.
I am all for products that are made in the US, are non-toxic and work really well. That is why I was happy to discover Earth Safe Finishes. Their website is packed with information, specifications and testimonials. True to their commitment all ESF packaging is reused and recyclable. Earth Safe Finished ships worldwide.