Aftermath of the Neocolor analysis…

Today wasn’t so bad.  I picked up some extra hours, and so was able to go and get eight new Neocolor II crayons with a light heart.  🙂  (My extra hours should cover my loan payments for January, and after then, I should be able to defer them.  After Summer, I’m planning on getting an additional job and trying to transition out of college.)

It’s actually a good thing that I stayed up last night analyzing my stash (of crayons), apparently?  I had been torn between the Neocolor I (water-resistant) and II (aquarelle) lines, until, after a lot of work, I realized that it would be better for me to fill out my aquarelle crayon line, as versus my water-resistant crayons.

…I can’t even remember how I got to that point.  What I can recall is surveying the contents of a 15-pack of Is I was considering, seeing which ones I didn’t have, which ones I had extra, which ones within the line of 40 colors I wanted (Neocolor IIs have a much larger color range).  I narrowed it down to about five, which runs about $10.

I also took a look at the Gamsol MSDS…which is not much to worry about (unless it’s imbibed), except for the danger of fire.  Given that I could get the same results with water as with solvent depending on the color lines, I decided to go for the aquarelles.  Then today, I actually went out to the art supply store (I think I was as surprised as anyone else), marking color samples on the way.

I hadn’t surveyed what I had in Neocolor II crayons last night, and I realized I didn’t want any duplicates, today.  Luckily, I wasn’t driving.  🙂  And I remembered that the “Russet” color looked familiar; I had it in IIs, but not Is.

There are three four crayons I’m sure I want to get when I have to go shopping for art supplies in the coming semester:

Ultramarine (Deep? or normal?)
Golden Ochre

I thought I’d never want these colors (besides the ochre; I’m having a bit of love for earth tones, it seems), but it seems that they would contrast with what I’ve got now, relatively well…and color interactions may kind of be the lifeblood of color work.  Neocolors kind of beg for pointillism and mark-making.  There are also:

Raw Umber
Burnt Sienna

…which I would think would be basic enough to be included in a small set, but whatever.

Before I went to the art store, I picked up a small sturdy plastic box for the crayons — about $5.  It’s hard to find containers to fit these things!  I had hoped a small Crayola box would work, but the Neocolors are about 1 cm too long for a Crayola box.  I think I mentioned this before.  I spent like $1.50 for a set of 24 Crayolas, hoping to be able to use the box.  (@_@)…

It just didn’t work out…

I’m thinking of trying to build a box on my own…it shouldn’t be too hard.  The problem would be keeping it from unfolding itself.  But!  I found out that the little box I got would also work really well for full-length soft pastel sticks!  It would probably be a pain to get them out, but they should fit.

I am hoping very much that the carcinogen in the General’s White Charcoal is only titanium dioxide.  I was reminded that this is now considered a carcinogen, last night while browsing.  It’s only really a problem when it’s loose and aspirated though (or in contact with an open wound), to the best of my knowledge (though I’m not an expert, so this is just a musing, not advice).

So if I were blowing the dust off of my image and then breathing the air without protection, I’d be vulnerable to eventual lung damage.  However, if I used it more responsibly (tapping off the dust instead of blowing it up into the air, and wet-mopping the work area of excess dust after working with the pastels, also using a particle mask to be safe), I’d have much less of a problem.  There are also other ways to mitigate dust, but I don’t really work with pastels enough to warrant that, at this point.

I’m not sure if the problem is entirely asbestos contamination.  I’d heard of that…but then I also read that the pigment in Golden Titanium White was titanium dioxide from rutile.  If you know a bit about geology, rutile is a mineral that grows in needlelike crystals.  If you’ve ever seen “rutilated quartz,” the little needles shooting through the quartz are rutile.  (There’s also “tourmilated quartz,” which looks similar, but the needles are columns of tourmaline, not rutile.)

I’m not sure of rutile’s directions of cleavage (I’ve never thought to look it up before), but I’d suspect that it might fracture into fibers, and might break into small, microscopic needles — akin to Kyanite.  If that’s the case, then I can see why titanium dioxide itself could be considered a carcinogen — I’d parallel it with fiberglass, in that it can get into one’s system and just not get out.  With fiberglass, it’s not that the glass is toxic, more than that it just wounds you over and over again and might not get fully out of the body.  So it’s mechanical damage, not a toxin.

On another website (which I may have linked to on a prior posting), I read that the damage was linked to whether the titanium dioxide was “bound” or “unbound.”  I’m thinking that something like pastel dust would be “unbound” and thus a hazard (in contrast to when it’s in sunscreen, when it might be “bound” — except with open wounds)…though again, I think that the only danger is through breathing the dust.

To be a responsible internet poster, I should give a disclaimer that I don’t really know what I’m talking about.  🙂  I have a bit of a clue, but don’t know if I’m fully right — in fact, I generally assume that I’m in some way wrong on a daily basis, but unless I said that, you wouldn’t know it.  So again:  don’t rely on what I say to save your life.  It’s the Internet.  Anyone can say anything.  Your health is your responsibility, no one else’s.

But anyway…I was looking at Rembrandt pastels last night, having toyed with my Titanium White one after I got off the blog.  I still really like it.  It is listed with a Prop 65 Warning, but I know that there’s no cadmium or lead in it (hence no soluble cadmium or lead), which puts my heart a bit at ease, given that cadmium, lead, and chromium are three of the top pigment-constituents that I watch out for, and none of them are in that brand.  (It seems like there was one more besides mercury [which everyone knows about and which doesn’t seem to be on the market, as a result], but I can’t recall what it is, now.)

I think I’ll use that one for Figure Drawing, in Spring.

I guess, you get older, you find safer ways of doing things, eh?  I’m wanting to work at least monochromatically with the Rembrandts (white plus a deeper color on a tinted ground), but they’re really expensive, and so color decisions must be made before investing.

All right, I’m getting really tired.  Need to hang up, now…


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Haru ("Codey") is a third-year Master's student in Library and Information Science, hoping to find a way to fuse their desire to make the world a better place and to finance their art.

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