Edward Bulmer spoke at the recent Benchmark Design ‘Toolbox Talks’ that I attended, and talked through the pigmenting of natural paints and their production. It was a fascinating insight into colouring and pigments, as well as the historical development of paint production methods.
Earth pigments have historically been the most frequently used – right back to cave painting as that’s what was readily available, and then later for decorative coatings dues to their abundance and therefore low cost. Other colours became available later from chemical synthesis – many derived from metals. These were often more expensive, and as a result a kind of social hierarchy developed in colour use: the most expensive pigments such as blues and purples would be used by the church and the very wealthy in more luxurious designs, in preference to the cheap earth colours of the common man.
Edward painted all of the main naturally-occurring pigments as a colour palette as he talked through them:
This hierarchy no longer exists in colours of course. Although there are types of finishes that are more expensive and so only used in certain interiors or by certain clients, when it comes to paint colours we can all choose anything we please, and in a wide range of finishes.
In terms of production and content, his paints are completely natural and made using traditional compositions. The interior emulsions are formulated to be breathable for the benefit of the building materials that they’re finishing, and the interior woodwork paints are based on natural oils to best accommodate any movement of the substrates over time.
It was a fascinating talk and we heard about so much more than I can write about here. We’ll definitely be trying the paint out soon to see for ourselves.