White Ground Alternatives Using Suspended Pigment

Our interest is in finding non-toxic and easily accessible replacements for the different components of a traditional White Ground. We are looking for a solution that mimics the reticulation, texture, tonality and breakdown of the original recipe, while also finding alternatives to Ivory Snow Flake Soap and powdered titanium white pigment. Ivory Snow Flake Soap has been phased out by the company that makes it, making it harder and harder to find until the available supply will ultimately be gone. Because of this development, we are looking to find alternatives to the soap flakes. We’ve begun by experimenting with Ivory Bar Soap, shaving it down in an attempt to achieve similar results to the Ivory Snow Flakes but, perhaps, we will find an entirely different soap-like alternative, moving away from Ivory soap completely.

The second main component of traditional white ground is powdered titanium pigment. The pigment is added so that, when using soap grounds, we can see where the ground is on the plate that it is being applied to. Titanium powder, when breathed in, is toxic and harmful to our lungs and throat, especially with prolonged and repeated exposure. To avoid this, we are looking into pigment options where the powder is already suspended in a solution, so there will be no chance of breathing it in when mixing up the ground for use. The products we used on our copper plates were: Ivory Snow Flake Soap, Ivory Bar Soap, 365 Whole Foods Market 2X Concentrated Laundry Detergent, sodium carbonate, titanium white pigment (powder), Guerra Titanium White Pigment, Artists’ Loft Level One Titanium White Oil Paint, linseed oil, and water.

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