For thousands of years lead white (lead carbonate or cerussite) was the only brilliant and opaque white pigment available. Nowadays the inert titanium dioxide has supplanted it in food, cosmetics and household paints for obvious reasons. However, many artists swear by its very special handling properties, and it is an indispensible plasticising constituent of the gesso used in manuscript gilding. It is difficult to obtain genuine lead (flake) white these days because EU legislation tightening up the rules for producing such toxic substances is making it sub-economic to commercial pigment producers. Word is that it will soon be equally difficult to obtain in the US. So when we can't buy it any more what will we do? It is simple to make yourself: follow the link below and check out this fascinating YouTube video demonstrating how by US pigment maker Attila Gazo of Master Pigments. But if you do fancy having a go, be warned - lead white is extremely toxic even in small quantities and poisoning is irreversible. Don't put your rinsings down the drain either.
The view from my desk
Current work, places and events, art travel, and interesting snippets about Christian icons, medieval art, manuscript illumination, egg tempera,, gilding, technique and materials.