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MITRA Forum Question Details

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  • Can I use soapstone dust to make gesso?ApproveRejectUn-ApproveSubscribeUn-Unsubscribe
    Question asked 2017-12-15 23:09:45 ... Most recent comment 2017-12-18 10:25:41
    Oil Paint Grounds / Priming


    I've been working on a soapstone carving and have produced a ton of dust in the process. I was wondering if I can use it in place of marble dust to make gesso? Would it be a stable ground for oil painting?

Answers and Comments

  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    ​Soapstone dust is not a good substitute for calcium carbonate in paints and grounds. The particle size of the dust produced by carving is probably not optimal for paint and grounds anyway. I would just dispose of it (wearing a particle filter mask), and if you want to use hydrated magnesium silicate/talc in the studio for inks or ceramics, select a cosmetic grade that is finely processed and product free of asbestiform particles.

    Matthew Kinsey, Utrecht Art Supplies
    2017-12-16 17:58:57
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    Matthew is probably right about the particle size issue

    The comment below was written by Bruner Barrie who runs Sculpture House

    Since there is various type of soapstone or Talc Block that may also be called Serpentine or know by other names it would be difficult to answer this question without more information.  I cannot see why any of the different types might not be used with Gesso although the porosity might be different within the different types. Montana, India African, and Alaskan stones all vary so I would suggest the person take a small amount and mix up test batches and lay around to see what they might like best. That is what I do quite often when trying something new and exciting and it seems to work well in the long run.

    Hope this helps.

    Thanks and Sincerely,



    Brian Baade
    2017-12-16 18:51:56
  • ApproveRejectUn-ApproveUser Comment


    Thanks for the responses so far. The soapostone (which I think is a false jade)​ produced the absolute finest possible dust. It is beautifully silky, with no feeling of particulate at all---it is really a powder---and I was trying to figure out what I could do with it to re-purpose it. It was such a lovely piece of stone, and I would like to use all of it in some way if I can. If you think it would not be a good ingredient for gesso, for the purposes of oil painting, do you think I could safely use it to make a silverpoint ground? If not, are there other uses?




    2017-12-17 21:13:33
  • EditDeleteModerator Answer

    You could certainly make tests of your powdered stone and perhaps you could find a use for it. I have doubts about is appropriateness for silverpoint. I generally use ground silica for that purpose. The hardness of silica facilitates mark making. Perhaps yours would be too soft. Who knows unless you try.  On the other hand. Marble dust, ground gypsum, and ground silica are about the cheapest materials used in art making. You have to decide for yourself if it is worth it to you to substitute your ground stone powers for materials of known qualities and a history of successful application.

    Brian Baade
    2017-12-18 10:25:41

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