The fact cannot be too forcibly impressed on the minds of all who may be engaged in the business of painting, that good results can be produced only by the use of good materials. The best are always the cheapest. The main expense in painting is not in the cost of the paint, but in that of labor and oil ; and it requires more labor to apply the worst, than to apply the best paint that can be painted.
The cheapening of paints by the ad-mixture. of adulterating materials, is carried on to the last degree—probably to a greater extent than in any other article of general use and consumption. The experienced eye can with difficulty detect the difference between colors which are pure and those which are highly adulterated, the only test being actual use and application. The safe way therefore, is to purchase such colors only as bear the name of some well known and responsible manufacturer.
The writer would not, however, be understood as advising the use of the best white lead or zinc for all kinds of painting; there are paints much more economical, because more durable, for out-side work than these. The others, or earth-paints, are, for many purposes, the best and cheapest. Paints are durable, mainly, because of the water-proof quality of the oil in which they are used. Some paints, the ochres for instance, are inert substances, and do not in any degree change the nature of the oil ; while others, such as white lead, affect the oil chemically, and impair, in a measure, its tenacity—its property of resisting the action of water and the sun’s rays. Much of out-side wood work is painted simply to preserve it from the action of the weather, color and appearance being in such cases, unimportant considerations. Hence, it follows that whatever material will most economically produce this result, is the most desirable, regardless of the name it may bear.
The natural deposits of ochres (colored earths) belong to what is known in geological nomenclature as the Jurassic period. The time when these deposits occurred is a matter of pure speculation, and may as well be supposed to have taken place five hundred thous-and years ago, as at any period more or less re-mote. As has been before remarked, had these materials been liable to change, it is only reason-able to suppose that such change would have occurred during the ages that they remained unappropriated to the use of man ; and experience teaches that they are not subject to those changes which belong to most of the artificial products used in painting. Hence the value of these native pigments.
Economically considered, they are undoubtedly the most valuable of all the paints, where primary or prismatic colors are not absolutely required. The only change they are liable to, is a change of place. They may be, and are, of course, wasted by the slow disintegration of the coating which they form with the oil, but in color, when unmixed with white, they are inflexibly permanent, and stand exposure to the sunlight without fading or bleaching in the Slightest degree. Nor are they affected by the action of acids and gases, as are most of the artificial paints.
Now that the day of whites and light tints is passing away, and a better taste in decorative ornamentation is about to prevail, it becomes all those engagad in the business of painting, to consider to what extent these natural pigments may be made to take the place of the artificial com-pounds which have heretofore been considered indispensable, and for which it has been supposed impossible to find substitutes. It must be remembered that the native pig-ments are in inexhaustible supply, that they are of almost universal distribution, and that they are not known to possess any value except for the purposes of painting nor is the production and preparation of them supposed to affect the health of the workmen engaged in it unfavorably. So far, therefore, as they can be substituted for those paints, the production of which lessens the stock of useful metals, the use of them adds directly to the wealth of the country and of the world. Their application is strongly recommended when-ever they can be made to take the place of the more expensive metallic substances.