A LIVING HISTORY BLOG.

18TH CENTURY LIVING HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Research Update on Oilcloth Recipes.


Waterproofing ingredients for oilcloth.
2.2.1 Drying Oil Recipes
A source from 1758 describes the preparation of drying oil (mainly intended for “coarser work”) as involving boiling or simmering the oil in conjunction with a variety of driers used at once, including litharge, white lead, red lead, lead acetate, and sulfate of zinc (Dossie 1758, 148–49). Reports on the color of these early drying oils indicate that they could be very dark: “a good drying oil is not to be had of them [the colormen], what they furnish us with being so highly colored as to be improper for the purposes of fine painting, and only can be admitted in the darkest shades or back grounds” (Williams 1787, 25). By contrast, recipes provided in the artists' oil painting instruction books were largely directed toward the preparation of a drying oil that would be as colorless as possible; these tended to include only one type of drier.
One of the preferred methods was to use metallic lead, either by agitating the oil with lead shot or by “grinding” the oil with a leaden pestle in a lead-lined mortar. Prolonged storage in a leaden vessel was also recommended. Litharge (and very occasionally white lead) was sometimes substituted for metallic lead and used in a similar manner. For example, Rembrandt Peale's method was to add 2 tablespoons of litharge to and 8-ounce phial which was then filled with linseed oil. It was to be kept exposed to the sun or near a fire for a few days and shanken frequently (Sully 1873, 33).
Litharge was available in two varieties: silver and gold. Silver, or yellow litharge, was heated higher and was reported to be a harder material than the gold, or red litharge. Field (1841, 108) recommended the silver over the gold because it was more highly oxidized and would therefore make a more effective drier. Sources warned that litharge was often contaminated with iron or copper oxides and noted that it contained significant amounts of silica as an impurity. Although it appeared frequently in drying oil recipes, litharge was not recommended to artists for use by itself (to be added directly to the colors on the palette), and it was not listed as a separate article in the colormen's catalogs.
The earliest recipes for drying oils in the sources consulted contained the highest proportion of driers to oil. In later publications, the ratio of 1 part drier to 8 parts oil or 1 part drier to 16 parts oil became more common. The preparation of drying oil was dangerous because of the risk of fire and required skilled workmen to achieve a consistently high-quality product. Judging from orders for both oil and driers, it appears that Roberson's prepared its own drying oil between 1830 to 1853. Sometime after, the firm consistently purchased drying oils ready-made.
OIL PAINTS
Linseed oil, obtained by crushing flax, was the most important oil for use in oil paints. Its rather yellow colour was a drawback, and for more delicate shades other more expensive oils, like walnut or poppy seed, were sometimes used. These are all 'drying oils' - they absorb oxygen from the atmosphere to form a hard flexible film. This reaction could be accelerated by the addition of driers, notably litharge or lead monoxide, to the linseed oil. Grinding white lead (basic lead carbonate) with linseed oil produced a mixture called 'lead soap', which was an outstandingly flexible and adhesive coating. It also had excellent opacity, or covering power, whilst many other white pigments, such as chalk, became almost transparent in oil. White lead also helped the linseed oil to dry, unlike some other pigments, such as lampblack, which slowed the drying process.
White lead had been known since antiquity to be the best white pigment available for use with drying oils. It was made by suspending sheets of lead metal over vinegar in covered pots. These were then laid in a dung heap to keep warm for several weeks to allow the fumes from the vinegar to react with the lead. After removal, the white lead powder (lead carbonate) which formed on the surface of the sheets was ground to a fine powder. This was called the Dutch or stack process and was used until the late 19th century when the more efficient chamber process was developed.
The white lead was originally ground with the linseed oil by hand using a Muller and Slab, then later by machines such as cone mills or edge runners driven by horse or steam power. Paints typically contained over 80 per cent white lead with the balance made up of the linseed oil binder and turpentine as the solvent. The balance between these two dictated the properties of the paint. More oil than turpentine gave a well-bound but glossy paint that was more resistant to the weather, and was suitable for outside and inside use; more turpentine than oil gave a matt finish that was suitable for indoor use only.


To make a Composition for rendering Canvas, Linen, and Cloth durable, Pliable, and Water-proof. To make it Black. First, the canvas, linen, or cloth is to be washed with hot or cold water, the former preferable, so as to discharge the stiffening which all new canvas, linen, or cloth contains; when the stiffening is perfectly discharged, hang the canvas, linen, or cloth up to dry; when perfectly so, it must be constantly rubbed by the hand until it becomes supple; it must then be stretched in a hollow frame very tight, and the following ingredients are to be laid on with a brush for the first coat, viz., 8 qts. of boiled linseed oil, 1/2 oz. of burnt umber, 1/4 oz. of sugar of lead, 1/4 oz. of white vitriol, 1/4 oz. of white lead.
The above ingredients, except the white lead, must be ground fine with a small quantity of the above-mentioned oil, on a stone or muller; then mix all the ingredients up with the oil, and add 3 oz. of lampblack, which must be put over a slow fire in an iron broad vessel, and kept stirred until the grease disappears. In consequences of the canvas being washed and then rubbed, it will appear rough and nappy; the following method must be taken with the second coat, viz., the same ingredients as before, except the white lead; this coat with set in a few hours, according to the weather; when set take a dry paint-brush and work it very hard with the grain of the canvas; this will cause the nap to lie smooth.
The third and last coat makes a complete jet-black, which continues its color: Take 3 galls. of boiled linseed oil, and ounce of burnt umber, 1/2 oz. of sugar of lead, 1/4 oz. of white vitriol, 1/2 oz. of Prussian blue, and 1/4 oz. of verdigris; this must be all ground very fine in a small quantity of the above oil, then add 4 oz. of lampblack, put through the same process of fire as the first coat. The above are to be laid on and used at discretion, in a similar way to paint.

CYCLOPEDIA OF PAINTING
To Make Gold Size. Take Gum Animi, Asphaltum, of each 1 ounce, minium litharge of gold and umber, of each % ounce, reduce all into a veryfine powder, and add to them, of linseed oil 4 ounces, of drying oil 8 ounces, digest over a gentle fire that does not flame, so that it may only simmer and bubble up, but not boil, for fear it should run over and set the house on fire.
Keep constantly stirring with a stick till all the ingredients are dissolved and incorporated, and do not leave off stirring it till it becomes thick and ropy, and is boiled enough, let it stand till it is almost cold, and then strain it through a coarse linen cloth, and keep it for use. To prepare for use, mix with oil of turpentine during heating, and strain again, add vermilion, and thin as required with turpentine. http://www.forgottenbooks.com/readbook_text/Cyclopedia_of_Painting_1000230154/405


Litharge is pure lead and when boiled with linseed or Walnut oil creates what is called black oil. Carbonate of lead contains moisture which is forced out by the heat. The lead fumes are poisonous and the oil becomes poisonous.
Lead is rusted and becomes white ( flake white). When burned again it becomes red oxide (used in painting barns). When fired again it has the look of a light gray, thus Litharge of silver, when fired again it becomes a soft yellow in colour,(Litharge of gold). When Litharge of gold is mixed with one of the above oils and heated between 180 and 200 degrees centigrade the oil begins to smoke and turn brownish. The litharge at 150 degrees begins to  turn into scrap and sticks to the spatula. At 210 degrees the deposits soften and mixes with the oil. At 250 the lead is permanently suspended in the oil and the colour is of clear brown coffee. It is the black oil developed during the 1400 century. I can't caution you enough about the danger of lead poisoning.





"The cloth was water-proofed by coating it with a boiled linseed and
"litharge of gold"  After several coats of the oil preparation
were dry, the cloth was well sealed and remained flexible." 1758.

Waterproofing
By Gene Hickman
Manuel Lisa Party - Montana Brigade

Whether you make or purchase a haversack or knapsack you may want to waterproof them. One easy method is to impregnate it with beeswax. This also works well for any light cotton canvas, hemp or linen, such as used in tinder bags, meat bags, etc. You will need:
Beeswax
Old paint brush
Empty disposable butter tub
Newspapers
Old iron or hair dryer

Spread your haversack on several layers of newspapers to absorb spilled wax. Place beeswax in butter tub and heat in microwave oven until melted. “Paint” the melted wax on the haversack with the paintbrush. You can reheat wax anytime as it starts to harden again. Try to get wax to soak in the seams. It will look really ugly, but don’t give up. Now take the old iron and start to iron the wax into the material or apply heat with the hair dryer. You can use a new iron, but you don’t have to clean an old one. Good idea to ask wife first. The hot iron or hair dryer melt the fabric and it will start absorbing it. Continue until you have covered the entire bag. It will darken linen bags and give it a good old time look. As you use the item you will get lighter colored creases in the fabric, which makes it only look better. I have also mixed a small amount of bear grease with the wax. On white canvas the wax will give the material a yellow look, so if you add some artists acrylic colors (burnt umber, brown, etc.) it will darken the fabric and give you a more satisfactory look.

Another waterproofing method, which can be used on packs, haversacks, ground cloths, trail tarps or tents, is to put a pound of beeswax in a quart of turpentine and paint it on. You have to heat both of these and mix them hot. A very hazardous procedure as they are both flammable. Some also add hot linseed oil to the turpentine beeswax mix. Then you wait for all of the turpentine and/or linseed oil to evaporate.

Donald Jackson's book "Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and Related
Documents,” contains an invoice from Mr. Richd. Wevill, dated June 15, 1803 in which he bills the government for:
107 yds of brown Linen
46 1/2 yds of (Russia) Flanders sheeting
10 yds of 7/8 Country Linen
Oiling all of the linen and sheeting and making the brown linen into 8 tents and the Russia Sheeting into 45 bags.

If you want to paint a haversack, pack, sail cloth or tarp, the most common “period paint” was called Spanish Brown. "Spanish Brown," which is red iron oxide paint, was one of the most common colours of oilcloth in the 18th and 19th century frontier. This was linseed oil with iron oxide mixed in it. It was commonly used to waterproof tarps, military packs and to paint wood. Use boiled linseed oil and powdered iron oxide (an earth pigment). Iron oxide comes in a variety of shades from a yellow to a deep rust brown. The colour depends on the purity and temperature the earth was heated too, either  geologically or artificially. These “earths” are all used in making pottery glazes, and can be bought at pottery making shops or suppliers. The iron oxide seems to act as the filler, filling the pores in the fabric, and it is important in the process.

To make it simply mix iron oxide in linseed oil. It can be mixed at about 1 – 1 ½  cups iron oxide per quart of linseed oil. Other formulas call for 3 cups iron oxide per 2 quarts of linseed oil and 4 cups per 3 quarts. I have just “eye-balled” the mix to what looked good and it was thick like a thick latex paint. It can take several weeks for the linseed oil to dry out on wood and fabric. The higher the humidity and the lower the temperature, the longer the drying time. Drying time in some areas can be several weeks and it will still be “tacky.” If you lay the fabric flat as described below you’ll have to paint a side and let it dry before painting the other side. However, if you hang the item to dry you may paint a side, flip it and then paint the other side. The drying process can be speeded up, by adding some “Japan Dryer”. The fabric will often be “tacky” after drying. You can take something like a pumice stone and rub off the tackiness. This seems to work better if it is dried in the shade rather than direct sunlight.

Linseed oil is highly flammable and rags or papers saturated with linseed oil can spontaneously ignite. Do this project outside and dry out all rags etc. before throwing them away.

There are also several paints on the market called “American Pride Brand” barn paint in flat red (sold by Hardware Hank) and Van Sickle red barn paint (sold by ACE Hardware), these may also be obtained at a farm co-op or a well stocked paint store. The only ingredients are boiled linseed oil, red iron oxide, and calcium carbonate[lime]. The calcium carbonate works as a dryer. Spread out your canvas and paint the one side and allow to cure. Flip it over and paint the other side and allow it to cure. If needed you may flip it back over and apply a second coat to the first side. This process takes days to allow the coats to dry. Several thin layers are better than thick layers of paint. I have had pieces of canvas painted with the homemade linseed oil and iron oxide mixture, and another with the Van Sickle barn paint. They are indistinguishable in color and texture. The barn painted canvas does seem to be lighter. These sample pieces have both been hanging outside in a tree for almost 2 years and look as good as the day I hung them up.

Iron oxide can also be purchased at art supply stores and some paint or hardware stores. I get mine from the Archie Bray Clay Business, http://www.archiebray.org/business.html, in Helena, MT, where they carry it by the pound. You can e-mail, call or go by the Archie Bray foundation to get some. It runs about $1.50 a pound when I checked last. The iron oxide they carry will be from an ochre yellow to a reddish brown, depending on the purity and its origin. All work fine.
Oiled Umbrellas
Historically, the Chiang Mai umbrella cluster's central product is the "oiled umbrella". Oiled umbrellas are made with a carefully carved bamboo frame, then covered with fine cotton, to which different layers of waterproofing are applied. While the natural waterproofing method is regarded as somewhat of a local trade secret, it traditionally includes teak oil and colour pigment. In the modern, more competitive marketplace, natural materials may be combined with more easily available synthetic oils and colours.
500ml of raw linseed oil
250gm of beeswax or paraffin wax (beeswax is best so if you can get that, use it)
50ml of mineral turpentine
Place all of the wax inside the small pot and the small pot inside the larger pot on the stove.
2
Add water to the larger pot until it rises two inches along the side of the smaller pot.
3
Turn on the heat until the water begins to boil and then reduce to a simmer.
4
Add water to the larger pot every time there is less than an inch of water remaining.
5
Turn off the heat when both waxes are melted and mixed together.
6
Pour the melted wax into a plastic mold and allow to solidify overnight.
Waterproof the cotton fabric
7
Lay the cotton fabric to be waterproofed flat on a large, stable surface like a table.
8
Rub the waterproofing wax hard against the fabric until you cannot add anymore.
9
Turn the hairdryer on high and sweep it over the waxed cotton fabric until the wax melts into the fibers.
10
Repeat three times for a total of four coats on each side of the fabric. The fabric will initially be darker and stiffer with the added wax, but this will ease in time
http://www.ehow.com/how_7858140_make-waxed-cotton-fabric.html

The same for waterproofing canvas but add bees wax 50 parts and 50 parts sweet oil. then smoke the canvas.I note that my great grandfather also used waterproof compound on packs .. 4oz neatsfoot, 8oz suet,1oz lamp black,1 and 1/2oz litharge,melt together stir untill cold.Footnote;wary of exploding linseed. Russ Tyenna.

Period Recipe: This recipe is an approximation, since the original recipe specified "litharge," or lead monoxide (PbO) which is extremely poisonous. Bright Idea: Leave out the lampblack, and you have a recipe for a nice civilian waterproof cloth. I strongly recommend this recipe because it is about as authentic as you can get without putting life and limb in danger. Materials: • Boiled linseed oil • Mineral spirits paint thinner (or turpentine) • Lampblack (comes in tubes or dry powder) • Japan dryer • Corn starch Method: Make a sizing by boiling about a quart of water and adding cornstarch mixed in cold water until the mixture becomes a little syrupy. Paint the cloth with the cornstarch sizing and let dry. Mix one part of boiled linseed oil with one part of mineral spirits. Add lamp black until the paint is a very opaque black. Add one oz. (2 tbsp) of Japan dryer per pint. With a brush, paint the cloth with the blackened linseed oil and let dry. This can take several days. Mix one part of boiled linseed oil with two parts of mineral spirits. Add one oz. of Japan dryer per pint. With a brush, paint the cloth with the clear linseed oil mixture and let it dry. This can also take several days. Two coats of this mixture should give the results you want. (You can omit the cornstarch sizing if you want, but the oil-based paint will pretty much soak the cloth.).
http://www.palmettobattalion.org/Oilcloth%20and%20Painted%20Accouterments.pdf


1 comment:

M. Steelman said...

Great read. Thanks for sharing.