Friday, April 18, 2008

Conscientious Art

At the end of 2007 I had mentioned that I would be exploring art materials that are earth-friendly. This is no small feat, as many artist materials are notoriously hazardous. It's bad enough that materials are expensive! At any rate, I think it is my responsibility, not just for my own health, but for the good of everyone to explore earth-friendly options. I have been contacting my suppliers of art materials and exploring their "greenness". The first company I heard back from was Ampersand Art Supply, who produces the watercolor boards I use.

Here is the letter that they sent to me:
Thanks so much for contacting us about our products. As we continue to grow this company, we are always looking for new environmentally sound alternatives to the materials we currently use as new information is made available. We use the most advanced and safe technology available in the world of wood painting panels today. The hardboard we use is made from renewable wood, meaning that the trees processed into the wood fibers are harvested and replaced with new ones. Also, these Aspen fir trees, that have a lower acid content than any other tree, are grown in the US, so that we are not affecting the growing problem of shrinking rain forests around the world. The wood fibers we use are made from waste from the lumbar industry, so in a way, you could say they are already made from recycled materials. [I had asked if they use recyled materials in any of their products] Also, our wood products do not contain any chemicals (VOC) that emit harmful gases that can cause cancer like formaldehyde or any others that can contribute to global warming like methane.

We use only safe water soluble raw materials in our coatings instead of solvent based materials which prevents problems locally (Austin, TX) with soil, groundwater and any other run off problems that could potentially happen with unsafe materials. The clay we use is a raw material that is mined only in the US from a more than abundant virtually endless supply (for the small world of art materials) - its not processed in a way that will affect the environment negatively. It's kaolin clay (naturally acid free and neutral pH), no color or hazardous chemicals added.

As we move toward the future, we are always testing materials that are safe for artists, will last according to museum standards and that have the least amount of impact on the environment. It could be that the wood materials we use will be replaced with a recycled product more along the lines of recycled plastic or metal - we're still looking into this and are always open to new ideas that we can test.
I was pleased with the response I received, and glad to know that the company that produces a product that I really enjoy using is conscious of minimizing their environmental impact. I am still waiting to hear back from Fredrix the company that produces the canvas I use, as well as the ink and watercolor makers. I will update you when I hear back from them.

But, you can be certain, in the meantime, more of my work will be made utilizing Ampersands clayboards!

No comments:

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...