Dendera Temple Paintings
Like me, have you recently been down to your Local DIY store, walked along aisles of paint in every colour and finish, to select what you need for your home? I am sure you have, but have you ever taken the time to think about how the amazing selection of paint arrived on those shelves?
Well, if you haven’t, then I am going to tell you, because these sort of facts fascinate me, and you know I like to write about them.
Paint appeared 40,000 years ago with the earliest cave paintings, where they used pigments of colour from plants and berries and their fingers to spread the paint. Much later, in Dendera in Egypt, the 2000 year old walls showed fantastic painted images that were still bright, even though they had been exposed to all weathers. The Egyptians worked with six main colours: Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Black, and White.
They didn’t seem to mix their colours to produce new ones at this time. Their paint was made with egg yolks to create a substance that would stick to the walls. To this would be added the pigment from plants, soil and sand, having used water or oil as a base.
Paint was here to stay and in 1718 ‘A Machine or Engine for the Grinding of Colours’ was invented by Marshall Smith of England. His machine greatly improved the grinding of the pigments to form the paints. Not long after, a company known as Emerton Manby advertised their paint at really low prices due to this new machine.
The painting of houses quickly became very popular. Their advert read, ‘One Pound of Colour ground in a Horse-Mill will paint 12 yards of work, whereas Colour ground any other way will not do half of that quantity’.
By the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, paint was being ground in steam-powered mills and the lead in the paint was being replaced by a white derivative of zinc oxide. Into the 19th Century, many houses were painted inside. This was not just for the decorative value, but also because paint helped to stop the walls rotting, as well as reducing the damp. By this time, linseed oil was a common additive to paint, as it was a cheap binding agent.
Sherwin Williams First Tin of Paint
In 1866, the first paint to be used straight from a tin was invented by Sherwin Williams in the USA. It took him nearly ten years to perfect, but eventually he had a huge production plant set up and was exporting all around the world.
Paint was here in a big way, but then in during World War II, there was a shortage of linseed oil for the paint manufacturers, as it was needed by the forces, so artificial resins were invented to take its place.
They turned out to be easy and cheap to make, with the added advantage of holding the colour. They also gave a longer life to the paint and so were used in future paint production.
So, next time you wander down the paint aisles in your local DIY store, deciding your colour and paint finish, you will know a little of its history and can impress the salesman…who I bet will not know any of these little information gems!