Messing around with sanguine

I’ve always been fascinated by traditional tools. Painting, woodworking, anything- there is something about seeing what creations and solutions people have come up with using these basic tools. I also love the accessibility of the original form, making it easier for me to customize tools or create my own. I started using the lumps of Italian red chalk for drawing and quickly realized that while it was fun to draw with a ‘rock’, it wasn’t the most practical way to create a drawing. After some research, and stumbling upon Matthew James Collins’ blog, I decided to try forming powdered red chalk into sticks. I was happy with the results, but noticed that they were fairly brittle without adding any gum tragacanth to the mixture.  I decided to use some iron oxide pigment combined with kaolin clay and powdered chalk to see if I could create a sturdier stick. Instead of rolling, I put them into a small plunger syringe, and extruded the mixture through a hole cut open to roughly the size of a large pencil lead. I was happy with the result. They held a point longer, weren’t prone to snapping as easily, and fit handily into the clutches I made from bamboo. As a last test, I used a small coping saw to cut the natural clay into squarish sticks that fit well into the clutches. Despite a non-homogeneous texture, I actually preferred the variation of line the chiseled square points provided. I think I might try to find more lump sanguine in the art supply stores in Paris next month when I visit. Hopefully the quality will be as good as the Cennini Studio Products brand I bought over 15 years ago…

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Published by Lucas Nickerson

Lucas Nickerson is a world recognized Portland-based fine artist. He specializes in whimsical work featuring animals, puns, and portraiture.

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