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Gamblin Reclaimed Earth Colours | From Pollution to Paint

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

In this blog, we look at how an Artist, an environmentalist & a team of research students collaborate with Gamblin to tackle the pollution problem by extracting and creating paints from toxic sludge. Read on to know more.

Gamblin's history in Sustainability:

Gamblin's first Reclaimed Color, Torrit Grey, has been popular since the early 1990s when the company decided to recycle pigment collected by our air filtration system and turn it into paint. Torrit Grey reduces the amount of waste that goes into landfills and encourages responsible living and art-making.

Similar to Torrit Grey, the Reclaimed Earth Colors are made with pigment that has a story.

The pollution problem: The Ohio and Mississippi Rivers are among the most polluted in America. Not from litter, but from the Industrial Revolution, when America’s unquenchable thirst for energy exploited the land in its quest for coal. Today, thousands of square miles of coal mines lie abandoned and improperly sealed. When rainwater seeps into the underground mines it becomes contaminated with toxic levels of heavy metals and acidity. The contaminated water then flows into streams and rivers where the metals oxidize and turn yellow, orange, and red. Officially, the term is “Acid Mine Drainage” (AMD). Unofficially it’s called “toxic sludge” and it’s left once-thriving ecosystems unable to support life.

A solution and a collaboration:

For over a decade, Artist John Sabraw, Engineer Guy Riefler, Environmentalist Michelle Shively, and a team of students at Ohio University have been trying to develop a sustainable solution to this problem. And they have!

The process begins with collecting contaminated water in large tanks. To neutralize the water’s acidity, a base is added, then oxygen. This causes the dissolved iron to crystalize and settle. The result: clean water on top and non-toxic iron oxide pigment on the bottom. The clean water is returned to the river where it is safe for aquatic life* and the iron oxides are dried into lightfast and safe artist pigment. The pigment is heated to various temperatures to achieve each color.

Enter - Gamblin!

As a color house that promises to be kind to artists and the environment, turning this pigment into paint was something Gamblin felt both compelled and honored to do.

In 2018 they officially joined forces by making one full batch of paint with the reclaimed pigment. The process to collect the pigment worked, and an oil paint manufacturer was on board. The concept was no longer just an idea, it was a reality.

Limited Edition Colours Were Born:

  • Brown Ochre is naturally opaque and warm with a golden undertone. This pigment isn’t heated to the extent of the other colors, so it retains the deep yellow/brown hue of the raw iron oxide.

  • In its transparency, Rust Red carries the warm color of rusty water. From the tube and in mixtures, it is exactly what you’d expect: an earthy red-orange.

  • Meet the first mauve color Gamblin has ever made. Straight from the tube, Iron Violet is a deep, earthy violet with a unique texture. Add white and it becomes the violet you see in the clouds at sunset or dawn.

Would you try these colours/paints out? Let us know in the comments below. Shop Gamblin Reclaimed Earth Set here. Shop Gamblin Products here.


Source Credits: Gamblin Blog


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