Silicone for Acrylic Pour Paintings – what is it and where to buy in the UK
I have been watching a lot of YouTube videos about acrylic pour painting and doing some initial trials myself. My friend on blipfoto, Gennepher, is trying things out too. In a lot of these videos they talk about adding a few drops of silicone to achieve cells. But what actually is silicone?
Acrylic Pour Painting Example
Here is an example video from Caren Goodrich. I like her easy and informative style of video, and because she speaks very clearly the auto generated subtitles seem very accurate. This video shows the cells that make these paintings special.
Another useful video for supplies – Beginner’s Guide: Basic Supplies For Acrylic Paint Pouring https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqgmCnGF7QU
In the description of her videos are links to the materials she uses. These are affiliate links to Amazon, which is a good way to support her, but they are to the USA site, so that makes it difficult if like me you are in the UK. Things available in USA are not necessarily available in the UK. You could ship them, but for a high cost and a long delivery time, which is crazy if there is a locally available alternative that will do the same job.
Caren’s link for silicone is to “100% Silicone Treadmill Belt Lubricant – Easy Squeeze / Controlled Flow Premium Lube”, but searching for that product on UK Amazon site, it doesn’t appear to be available. Here is her link to check it out http://amzn.to/2qNHUnt
In the above video she uses Novaplex 233 pouring medium. This is a product by Nova Color, which is a Canadian company. Website with the order form here: http://www.novacolorpaint.com/orderform.htm. As with silicone the shipping to UK would be needless expense when there are equivalent products, but it is a matter of finding them and knowing how to use them. But this post is about silicone so I will stick to that topic and do a separate one for pouring medium another time.
What is the chemistry of silicone?
When people who demo this technique refer to ‘silicone‘ they are actually meaning ‘silicone oil‘.
Silicone is a common name for polysiloxanes, or more correctly polydimethylsiloxanes (PDMS), which are polymers based on repeat units of siloxane.
Silicones consist of an inorganic silicon-oxygen backbone chain (⋯-Si-O-Si-O-Si-O-⋯) with organic side groups attached to the silicon atoms. These silicon atoms are tetravalent. So, silicones are polymers constructed from inorganic-organic monomers. Silicones have in general the chemical formula [R2SiO]n, where R is an organic group such as an alkyl (methyl, ethyl) or phenyl group. (Source and more info Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicone).
When I learnt chemistry at school and university, I only remember learning about organic polymers (plastics) made from long chains of organic chemicals based around a chain of carbon atoms with hydrogen atoms and other molecules branching off. Carbon and Silicon are elements in the same column in the periodic table. They have the same valency (number of electrons that can form bonds), so this makes sense to me that silicon can also form chains. The longer and more branched the chains the more solid the material is as a result.
I am familiar with silcone cooking products, cooking tools, baking trays, etc. The material is solid and has heat resistance. These products are made from ‘silicone rubber’.
I also knew that there is silicone in some shampoos, and in lubricants, and the stuff you put around as a sealant for your bath. These products are different chemical formulas based on the same starting molecules.
What is the cheapest way to buy silicone oil in the UK?
First I tried searching for “treadmill silicone oil” when I couldn’t find the exact product from the link on Caren Goodrich’s video. There are lots of products available of varying price. Only a few drops are needed per cup of mixed paint, so it seems for a beginner the smallest and cheapest amount is something to aim for.
On ebay, I found this 50ml bottle of Treadmill Silicone Oil for £3.72 + 80p postage = £4.52
On Amazon 30ml JLL Universal Treadmill silicone oil £3.99 free UK delivery
I was wondering what other silicone oil products there were and that I could buy on the high street perhaps, without having to wait for delivery.
It seems that you can get gun oil that is a silicone product, but mostly it is more of an expensive item and there are not so many gun shops around. I just mention that in case anyone happens to have any gun oil already. Have a look if it is silicone based.
From Amazon: 30ml Abbey Silicone Gun Oil 35 Gun Rifle Car Shooting Airsoft £4.94 free UK delivery https://www.amazon.co.uk/ABBEY-SILICONE-RIFLE-SHOOTING-AIRSOFT/dp/B00AZK13EC
However, it also seems there is a personal lubricant product brand called Gun Oil that also contains silicone – https://www.gunoil.co.uk/products/gun-oil-silicone – interesting history – it did start out as oil for guns and soldiers found other uses for it! https://www.gunoil.co.uk/about
There are various lubricants for cars and bikes that may be possible to get hold of in hardware or vehicle shops. For example:
From Wickes: WD-40 Specialist High Performance Silicone 250ml £3.74 http://www.wickes.co.uk/WD-40-Specialist-High-Performance-Silicone-250ml/p/144012
(Note: This is not ordinary/original WD-40, which is a mineral oil based lubricant not silicone.)
From Halfords: Silicone lubricant spray 400ml £3.99 http://www.halfords.com/motoring/engine-oils-fluids/grease/halfords-silicone-lubricant-400ml
***Late addition – purchased from local independent DIY shop – Tableau Dry Lube Super-slip Silicone Lubricant, 200ml, aerosol spray with directional straw, £4.49 https://www.tableauproducts.com/categories/dry-lube/4****
From Homebase: WD-40 Specialist High Performance Silicone Lubricant £4.98 http://www.homebase.co.uk/en/homebaseuk/wd-40-specialist-high-performance-silicone-lubricant-355670
What does the WT number mean?
Engine and bike oils seem to come with a WT number and have a variety of these. So what does that mean and what would be best for art purposes?
The WT number seems to relate to viscosity (at Winter Temperatures = WT). A higher number is more viscous/thicker. I think for painting purposes want a thinner oil with a lower number.
I found some silicone oils intended for cycling that come in various WT ratings. Perhaps a cycle shop would stock these? Here are some links for online.
CML Racing Pure Silicone Oil 30WT £2.84 + £3.50 postage = £6.34 https://wheelspinmodels.co.uk/i/72425/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIzqCn5OXl1QIVYbvtCh0xnQtKEAQYAyABEgLg0vD_BwE
This is the lowest WT rated silicone oil I have found. Fastrax Pure Silicone Shock Oil 15wt (50ml) FAST60-15 £4.08 free UK postage
I haven’t tried any of the above products, except the Tableau Dry Lube Super-slip Silicone Lubricant. I am not recommending them and I don’t gain anything from any of the links. I am just providing this as examples of things which might work and might be possible to get hold of at an economic price. I have been achieving cells by spraying the silicone lubricant into a cup (outside to avoid fumes) and then tipping a few drops of the liquid into my paints and only stirring a little. So far I am getting better cells with the swiping technique. The image below is my first one that worked with the cells.