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Subject: Milk as colorant

Milk as colorant

From: Kate Savage <ktsav>
Date: Monday, August 6, 2001
    **** Moderator's comments: This query comes from a person who is
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I am an artist painting on oriental paper with cow's milk, which I
then heat over a candle until the milk turns brown to create the
visible image. The results are visually pleasing and this process is
integral to the content of my work. However, I am concerned about
the preservation of both the visible image *and* of the physical
object (in other words, I don't want the paper to rot later on).

I have tried various experiments. In order to preserve the paper
from disintegration:

I have soaked the paper in melted beeswax and mounted it on rigid
sheets of acrylic (like plexiglas) which creates a lovely
semi-transparent image. *But*, the milk image fades within a few
months in *any* exposure to sunlight. I have even tried coating the
cooled beeswax with a polymer varnish with UVLS (made by "Golden"
Acrylics), but this did not seem to slow the fading very much.
("Golden" also makes a MSA (mineral spirit soluble acrylic) varnish
with UVLS which I haven't tried).

I have also tried soaking the milk drawing in a solution of acrylic
polymers (matte medium and the like) which I then adhered to a
frosted sheet of acrylic. So far, the milk image seems to be holding
up better. Also, I'm thinking that the polymer varnish with UVLS
will adhere better to the acrylic already in the paper, creating a
better bond and seal against sunlight. However, in my past
experiments just brushing (not soaking) acrylic over the milk, it
has faded and, sort of, crystallized the milk image, so I'm a little
worried about what will happen.

I've also come up with some ideas of how to preserve the milk image
from fading over time:

These include mixing pigment with the milk as I'm painting it on.
This could be in the form of pigment dispersions in water, dried
pigment *or* watercolor paints or dyes diluted in milk. Once dried,
I could still heat the whole image over a candle to caramelize the
milk (?)

Lastly, the milk images which have survived the best in terms of not
fading were ones I simply left alone (caramelized milk on
paper--nothing else). However, I've kept them in a flat file away
from light AND I'm not sure how prone these might be to mold or
disintegration in the long run.

I would *greatly* appreciate any help you could offer in solving
these two problems of 1) how to keep the milk image from fading over
time, and 2) how to preserve the paper from rot, mold or
disintegration over time. I would so love to continue working in
this unusual medium. Thanks you so much for taking the time to read

Kate Savage
441 Sherman Canal
Venice, CA 90291
Studio: 310-305-0278
Work: 310-451-5657

                  Conservation DistList Instance 15:15
                 Distributed: Wednesday, August 8, 2001
                       Message Id: cdl-15-15-035
Received on Monday, 6 August, 2001

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