Creator Community – Stoneworks Mill

Welcome to the newest aspect of my blog, where I bring attention to fellow makers who share my passion for small business, conservation, preserving the handcrafted and creativity.

Meet Kelli Fowler, Owner of Stoneworks Mill in Northern VA

How Would You Describe Your Process?

The process I use to create artisanal art supplies always starts with nature.  I find something that would make a nice paint. I see a color that I find inspiring.  Often I see a landscape and think of the colors of paint I would want to have in my palette to create that scene.

In terms of my paints, my most popular item, I always start with dry pigments.  Some of these pigments are purchased, some are created with rocks and clays I have purchased, and some are from items I have foraged by myself.

The pigments get mixed with my medium.  That medium is composed of hand-ground gum Arabic, the sap of the Acacia tree.  That sap allows the pigment to stay bound to the paper.  I grind it up and mix it with distilled water to create a solution.  The medium also contains raw honey from local beekeepers.  This works as a humectant and helps to keep the paints from shattering and falling apart.  I also add some high quality vegetable glycerin to my paints to help them with rewetting and dispersing in water on the paper. 

After the mixture of the pigments and medium is combined it is placed on a large slat of primed glass.  It is then mulled with a glass muller. The muller helps to evenly distribute the pigment throughout the medium.  The muller is also primed to avoid the paint just slipping and sliding between it and the glass.

Once the pigment and medium are properly integrated into a lovely suspension I place this mixture in small pans and allow them to dry.  The paint shrinks as it dries, so I do multiple pours into each pan to make sure they are full and lovely.  I then add a low-profile magnet to the bottom of the pan and a label to the side of the pan.  I use labels, instead of writing on the pans, so that artists can remove the labels and reuse the pan with other colors of paints if they wish to do so.

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