Pigments are finely ground colorants that change the color of reflected or transmitted light by absorbing certain spectrum wavelengths. Pigments differ from dyes in that they are insoluble in the medium in which they are mixed. They are used in paints and coatings as coloring agents. Pigments are also used to color food, personal care products, inks, and plastics.
Pigments can be natural or synthetic. Pigments are also organic or inorganic, meaning they are derived from organic chemicals such as petroleum or minerals, such as iron ore. Most historical pigments were derived from natural sources, such as rocks, plants, and insects. Modern pigments are made from mineral sources or petroleum. They also vary in toxicity—most are considered safe, while some are toxic.
You combine pigments with a binder to create colors in paint. Binders suspend the pigments and give paint adhesion to a substrate. Binders consist of resins, gums, or oils. Acrylic resins make acrylic paints. Acacia gum (gum arabic) is the binder in watercolor paints. The binder in oil paints is drying vegetable oils, such as linseed, walnut, and poppy oil.
Italy is a land of painters and popes, pasta and polenta, and medieval castles and alpine mountains. Most importantly, it is the land of romance. Italy is also a land rich in minerals from which many different colored pigments have historically been used in some of the world’s most important works of art. This article examines a few of the many earth colors available from Italy by Natural Pigments.
Pearlescent pigments are usually mica platelets, synthetic or natural that have been coated with titanium dioxide, iron oxide, or another metal oxide. Platelets of coated mica can vary in size, shape, and thickness. The degree of these characteristics and the thickness of the coating determine the color and appearance of the pigment. Additionally, thickness and the coarseness of the particles determine the sparkle.
White pigments consist of natural or synthetic inorganic pigments. Inorganic pigments are easier to disperse in most paint vehicles than organic pigments. Nevertheless, many white pigments undergo treatment to improve their dispersibility, lightfastness, and weather resistance. White pigments are used for white colors, tinting colors, and covering tones in paint.
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