This entry was originally posted on SundayJune 10, 2012

Today’s Sunday Secrets is a question from Hannah in Vancouver, BC

She asks, “What is Gum arabic and why is it in watercolor paint?”

That is a good question.

Gum arabic is a gum made from hardened tree sap from the acacia tree.

Gum arabic has properties that make it glue-like and is a binder used in many things since it is also edible.

You would be surprised to know how many things it is used in!

Soda, candy, and postage stamps, for instance.

Since it is a natural binder, it is used in watercolor paint to help the pigment bind to paper.

Without a binder, the pigments that are in paint would just brush off and act like chalk.

That is why we need binders in paint.

To make sure it stays where we put it.

Gum arabic is one of the oldest binders for paint.

Another wonderful binder is egg which is used in egg tempera.

Oil paints use a drying oil (the most common being linseed oil) that has been boiled with resin as its binder.

Acrylics, which have only been around since the 1950s, use an acrylic polymer as the binder.

More information on gum arabic can be found  here

Leslie Lambert

Author Leslie Lambert

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