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Jason Bunton




Location: Vienna Austria
Joined: 28 May 2010

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject: What type of pigment to use on viking/saxon era shield         Reply with quote

Greetings all - I'm constructing a viking shield. I'm ready to get started however, I'm having difficulty finding any good sources on what paint I should use. I'm trying to be a historically accurate as possible. Would a linseed base mixed with pigments be the right direction? Or perhaps an egg/linseed tempera? Please let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject. Cheers!
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David Huggins




Location: UK
Joined: 25 Jul 2007

Posts: 490

PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 4:07 pm    Post subject: Pigment         Reply with quote

Hi

Try a mik paint with earth tone colours.

best

Dave

and he who stands and sheds blood with us, shall be as a brother.
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M. Livermore





Joined: 20 Aug 2008

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PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 4:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I don't remember the exact shade, but the old fashioned milk paint company produces one blend that is very close to some orpiment blends that I have seen. I used it on my linen faced plank shield with good results and managed to avoid the health risks of using the real thing. Applying milk paint directly to wood or leather can be tricky, but it took to the linen very well. Be sure to share pictures when you are done.
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Jason Bunton




Location: Vienna Austria
Joined: 28 May 2010

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PostPosted: Wed 15 Dec, 2010 9:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks to you both. I will look into the milk paint and post some photos when the shield is complete.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You may already know this, but milk paint is also called cassein. Of course, that's just the base, the pigments are a different matter. Commercial milk and cassein paints generally come colored and ready to use, but if you're really avid you can get plain unpigmented cassein base and mix in your own pigments--red ochre and that sort of stuff.

The Gokstad ship shields were black and yellow, and red and blue at least have been found on shield bits from Danish bogs, etc. Some colors could be pretty bright, but I don't know the ins and outs of which available pigments were brighter, etc.

Have fun!

Matthew
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

Posts: 653

PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 5:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Livermore said. " Applying milk paint directly to wood or leather can be tricky...." I have no experience with painting leather but painting wood with the powdered milk paint that is available these days is, I think, surprisingly easy. What difficulties did you run into using milk paint?

Ken
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M. Livermore





Joined: 20 Aug 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 6:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ken Speed wrote:
M. Livermore said. " Applying milk paint directly to wood or leather can be tricky...." I have no experience with painting leather but painting wood with the powdered milk paint that is available these days is, I think, surprisingly easy. What difficulties did you run into using milk paint?

Ken


Hi Ken,

Yeah, I have seen people paint wooden furniture with milk paint, and the results looked great. I did not find the same thing on the piece of poplar that I used for a test application. The coverage was inconsistent, but that could just be user error. The paint sure does look nice on the linen face though.
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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 6:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Without exact knowledge, some rather "safe" picks of color that would be readily available for a scandinavian shield-owner in the viking era would be:

Earth pigments (all sorts of browns, some pale yellows, reddish tones, even some greens)
Soot (black)
Chalk (white)

As for binders, there is as already mentions of casein, linseed-oil and temperas (does not need to be egg, any emulsifier will do)

I would like to add glue-based paint to the list, if you are already using some sort of animal glue to glue the shield together or for layers of linen or leather on the shield you might as well use some of it for surface finish, make a rather watery glue, add chalk and pigment. To increase water resistance, do a final surface treatment with pure linseed oil or varnish (that you could be make yourself from pine resin, also a resource that would have been available in scandinavia at the time.

Actually I wonder about that linseed oil..I have a sneaking suspicion that we assume that flax used for textile fibbers == linseed oil to use for a paint, surface treatment etc. Anyone archeologically inclined that have seen any traces of seed presses or traces of oil production in scandinavia?

I would suspect that tallow is a more likely source for a greasing agent since it would likely be more available and a byproduct from the keeping of livestock. In coastal areas oils from fish and whale might be easier to obtain than linseed oil. Probably a lot smellier, but then again, ventilation was so much better in the day of the draughty longhouse =)

One of my goals for next season is to render some lard and tallow and use for greasing up leather and surface treat some of the camp gear and see how it performs, and how rancid it will smell...

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Bjorn Hagstrom




Location: Höör, Skane
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PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 6:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh, and not to spam or hi-jack the thread too much..but I have an ongoing heater-shield project where I will make my own paint. I have collected an assortment of earth pigments, lamp-black and chalk and will probably make a glue-paint for the base coats and oil-based paints for the surface layers.

The shields are two layers of 4mm plywood and faced with 2 layers of linen. I have primed them with a gesso primer made out of hide glue and chalk. I have yet to do the actual paint, but so far it looks like my home-brew gesso worked rather well. Time will tell if my other paint will stick to it..



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Jason Bunton




Location: Vienna Austria
Joined: 28 May 2010

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 11:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you all for the information. I will be using a hide glue and linen cloth on the surface of the shield face. I'm researching the formula for the casein binder (cheers Matthew and Bjorn) and think I have found a good recipe that includes linseed oil. I have a degree in painting and worked a lot with egg tempera but am quite unfamiliar caseins. Fortunately I have a friend who works in art restoration and is willing to help me in the process. She said my studio/flat will smell like a corpse for a few days after making it though! Oh well - we must all make sacrifices from time to time.
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Ken Speed





Joined: 09 Oct 2006

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PostPosted: Thu 16 Dec, 2010 11:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Livermore responded to my question about his difficulty with milk paint on wood, " Yeah, I have seen people paint wooden furniture with milk paint, and the results looked great. I did not find the same thing on the piece of poplar that I used for a test application. The coverage was inconsistent, but that could just be user error. The paint sure does look nice on the linen face though."

Yes, I can well imagine that milk paint and linen would be very compatible with each other. I don't want to belabor this or hijack the thread but I suspect something got between the bare wood and the paint. Milk paint, like most wood glue, needs bare wood to work best. Oil from an otherwise clean rag or your hands could spoil the finish. Clean disposable rubber gloves are good to use when using milk paint. Milk paint won't provide the coverage of modern paints and you'll probably need three coats to get a good strong color.

Its a good idea to refrigerate milk paint if you're going to use it for more than a day, its not as nasty as hide glue that's been allowed to rot but it isn't fun if it goes bad!

I'm not suggesting that anyone molest any household pets or livestock but blood was commonly used as a paint colorant into the the seventeen hundreds so I'd imagine that dark red and red browns would be appropriate for a shield.

This thread is really tempting me to get some basswood and make a Viking style shield myself!
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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Location: Netherlands
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PostPosted: Fri 17 Dec, 2010 1:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One recommendation: read "On divers arts" by Theophilus:
http://books.google.nl/books?id=MMiLTJqvYnYC&...mp;f=false

That's actually a manual from the period (or slightly later, around 1120), which describes how to make pigments, paints etc. rather then just having to speculate.

N.b. I wouldn't bet on earth tones being safe. I'd expect bright and flashy colors to be the primary choice. As for patterns, you can look at the various Frankish psalters for inspiration. It's probably not exactly the same as Viking shields, but it's better then just guessing.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk
- Bronze age living history in the Netherlands
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Johan Gemvik




Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Joined: 10 Nov 2009

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PostPosted: Fri 17 Dec, 2010 5:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bjorn Hagstrom wrote:
I would like to add glue-based paint to the list, if you are already using some sort of animal glue to glue the shield together or for layers of linen or leather on the shield you might as well use some of it for surface finish, make a rather watery glue, add chalk and pigment. To increase water resistance, do a final surface treatment with pure linseed oil or varnish (that you could be make yourself from pine resin, also a resource that would have been available in scandinavia at the time.


You make a good point, and I'm a great fan of the linen laminate, and the linen/leather/wood layered laminate. And not just for shields. I use it for making scabbards after the Geibig reconstructions. I just want to add some things to clarify. All permanent paints are based on adhesives with pigment added to it and dilluted to some degree, so they're actually all some type of "glue" paint or another. i.e. Milk- aka casein paint is actually based on casein glue.

Epidermic/ hare/ hide glue, fish skin glue and bone glue aren't the only animal derived organic glues. Casein glue is also animal glue. Casein is the hard lumps you get from cows' milk, or more specifically the lumps that make cottage cheese. The historical reagent that sets off the ammoniac process that turns it into glue is most often Hartshorn, a salt derived from deer antler, which is also why Casein glue is sometimes called "horn" glue, but you can also use a salt derived from boiled down ox hide, which is confusing because then it's a type of "hide" glue. Only today do we sometimes use synthetic ingredients to make it, mostly preservatives so it won't rot and will keep longer. Natural casein glue will turn bad in a couple of days up to a week or so after making it if it just sits in a bottle or pot, and would be hard to sell as a finished paint or glue product today unless one adds these preservatives.

Casein glue is also water resistant. I'm sure it can't hurt with the extra waterproofing treatment but not as vital as when using epidermic glue that isn't water resistant and will turn sticky or even run.


If anyone's interested I have a good and easy to use recepie for Casein glue, making it very strong.

"The Dwarf sees farther than the Giant when he has the giant's shoulder to mount on" -Coleridge
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Mark Shier
Industry Professional




Joined: 27 Mar 2005

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Fri 17 Dec, 2010 6:26 pm    Post subject: milk paint         Reply with quote

I haven't seen any evidence for milk paint being used in the middle ages or earlier. If anyone has such, please post it.
mark

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