I might’ve struggled through trail and error and testing
on many phases, but thankfully, we are fortunate to share Portland
as our home base with Gamblin Artist Colors,
home to both the best oil paints and also, home to Gamblin Conservation Colors.
As with the NPS Mason Monterey project, Gamblin saved me money and time
on trial and error, this time offering me advice toward painting on silk.
Dave Bernard helped me choose or validated my choices on several paint colors,
especially as it came to the way the colors are produced,
and how the various ingredients will present on silk over time.
And also, those times when conservators I spoke with discouraged me from the project,
he became my cheering section, saying, “Of course this can be done!”
(He is shown above with Mary Weisenburger, who, along with Dave,
answered questions on the Silver Circus Ball. I never work with metallic paints!)
I drove out to pick up our order to their new location.
The new place is giving them a lot more space, and is ordered properly for a
company that knows what it needs to operate! I went on a tour of the new digs…
which is why you are being given a behind-the-scenes at Gamblin tour.
When I walked in I was so sad that the color swatch wall was gone!
My first visit to Gamblin to discuss the Monterey project, I’d run my hands over the squares, and said,
“This color! And this color!”
Being able to see the paints large made my initial choices so easy! Thankfully, they are not gone, but now brighten the wall next to the warehouse entry and the door to Pete Cole’s office (CEO.) Looking through his door, see that art on the wall? You will recognize it from the
various swatches on their site.
We started in the farthest corner, which is where boxes and containers of raw ingredients come into the facility and stored. The flow chart of the layout makes sense from the raw ingredients entering (farthest) to the shipping area (nearest the offices.)
Mark and Phil are closest to the raw ingredients because they work with them…
Pulling them and measuring the formulas for the paint into the buckets for mixing.
I just missed a batch being mixed by Matt — which I’ve seen before and it is so cool.
(Image right, shamelessly stolen off the Gamblin site.) Green was the color of the day, appropriate for a day I was picking up the Washington Flag paints. The raw ingredients are ground over and over on the machine until silky smooth, then loaded into the 5 gallon bucket, center.
When the machine is cleaned between colors,
the white goop on the table, above right, is used, which draws pigment to itself.
Once the paint is mixed, it looks like smooth plastic (phthalo green I believe.)
Tom is lining the tub of green paint up on the tubing machine (my name),
which was bought used from a toothpaste company and modified for paints.
Each 5 gallon tub will make approximately 500 37ml and 125 of the larger 150ml tubes.
Gamblin could do this faster using a mechanized option,
but the downside is that more air is trapped in the tubes during a mechanized fill.
I’ve received tubes of acrylics or watercolors when the air made the contents harden.
Tubes are boxed, and then go into wholesale boxes, ready for shipping.
A look back at the large warehouse with the big fans (we were about to go into a heat wave) and said goodbye to my favorite wall!