Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tour of Daniel Smith Art Supply

Daniel Smith art supply store is based in Seattle, and yesterday I took a tour of their manufacturing facility with an art group I belong to. It was really interesting! They manufacture all their paint right in the same building as their main retail store. Their chemist took us around the plant, and explained how the paints are ground, how they get their pigments (they have a dedicated geologist who travels the world looking for rocks that might make an interesting color), and how they're tubed. The chemist, and later the tour guide, answered a lot of technical questions about various colors and safety considerations.

The guides cleared up a couple of specific questions I had about a couple of their products. For instance, I found out that their alkyd medium (pictured above) has real turpentine in it,not mineral spirits like I had always thought. Also, they have discontinued their cadmium colors, but said that their new replacement colors, which they call "cadmium hues," are not the inferior student-grade products that other manufacturers use. The chemist went to a lot of trouble to get both the hue and the handling abilities of the replacements to be as close to cadmium as he could get. I meant to go check out the tubes on my way out but forgot.

One other thing they stressed: if you're working with dry pigment, you must use a full respirator, and wear gloves and/or barrier cream. He explained how the dry pigments are so finely ground and pure that they're easily aspirated, which is different from pastel dust, which is bound with another material and always heavier and bigger than any pure pigment dust.

So that was a great day for me. Last week was a bad week for me in the studio because I had jury duty, plus I was getting my taxes together, but this week I'm back on schedule. In addition to the semi-rearing stallion, I've been prepping up a storm. My goal is to get all the bodies I have on hand prepped before I buy anymore. I'm maybe halfway done right now.


Becky Turner said...

wow that would have been fun! I have always wanted to go there.. haven't had a chance since I moved back.. I used to love to go to seattle art supply..but I heard they closed it down sometime when I was living in az.. I wish I had a friend to drive down there with me..( hate going alone that far when I don't know the area so good anymore after 18 years of being away) do they only let groups go on tours? or can anyone go? anyway.. sounded like fun! did they give out any free samples? that would make it worth the trip alone since Id probley spend a ton at the store! lol
Rebecca Turner

Carol H. said...

Hi Rebecca! I think they allow individuals on tours, I'm pretty sure I've seen signs advertising it in their store. I was hoping to get a free sample of paint (how greedy of me!) but we got a nice (big!) sketchbook, a synthetic brush, and a colored pencil, so I'm not complaining!

Seattle Art Supply sounds vaguely familiar, was that over on Western and something? By the Art Institute of Seattle? I only went there a couple of times because of parking issues.