||Feature: Meeting in the Middle
Like the steel rail manufacturers and their customers who came
together to form ASTM in a new spirit of cooperation over 100
years ago, artists paint manufacturers and their customers have
made consensusand much-needed standards out of sometimes diametrically
Its not always an industry itself that sees the need for standards
development, but often consumers can see a gaping hole in standardization
and move to remedy the situation. According to Mark Gottsegen,
chairman of ASTM Subcommittee D01.57 on Artist Paints and Related
Materials, It was more an artists need than an industry need
that drove the formation of that subcommittee in the late 1970s.
Prior to that time, the adequate labeling of ingredients on containers
of artists paints had been almost nonexistent. The then-National
Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and
Technology) had a standard to address this on the books, Commercial
Standard 98 for Artists Oil Paints, but it hadnt been revised
since 1962, according to Gottsegen. With the NBS no longer writing
standards, an alternative SDO needed to be found to promulgate
much-needed standards for not only the labeling of artists paint
ingredients, but for longevity of the paint content, for labeling
for health hazards, and more. Shepherded by artists and artists
paint industry leaders, the old standard for artists paints,
as well as the whole issue of standardizing aspects of those materials,
was about to find new life in a new ASTM subcommittee.
Market Positioning Meets Consumer Needs
Gottsegen explains that, in a competitive industry such as the
artists paints industry, one companys introduction of new materials
brings them about one year of market advantage before somebodys
copied it. Consequently, naming paint ingredients right on the
label, a practice not required by any federal legislation, was
not considered a wise move by many of these manufacturers.
But artists saw it a different way. If you compared a tube of
artists oil paint to a pail of house paint, you could see every
ingredient listed on the can of house paint, Gottsegen explains,
but you were lucky to get a pigment name on the artists paint
tube. Often something like Joes Blue would be printed there,
which is certainly not a pigment name. But many artists knew
what they needed from a paint, and Joes Blue was not enough
information on which to base the purchase of a paint for an important
project. If I know what kind of oil is being used, for instance,
then I can find out, via the work of conservation scientists,
what the durability of that particular oil is. We have a much
higher expectation of longevity from our artists paints than
from commercial or automotive paints. Most artists expect their
work to remain, unchanged, for more than 100 years. With expectations
like this, it was only a matter of time before the industry would
have to take notice of the chemical literacy of their customers.
As with most standards development efforts, the activity required
the consent of both manufacturers and users to meet in the middle.
One manufacturer of the time, in particular, didnt need a standard
or a regulation to recognize the importance of listing the ingredients
on their tubes. When Henry Levison owned Permanent Pigments,
they listed every ingredient on the tube of Liquitex brand watercolors,
Gottsegen says. It was a tiny tube of paint with a lot of ingredients
listed on it, including the pigments name and Colour Index number.
No one had ever done thatbefore. Levison was responsible for bringing
other paint manufacturers to the ASTM table because it was the
right thing to do. Gottsegen was one of several consumers who
got involved at that time and today, he still sees the value of
ASTMs consensus process. When asked how ASTMs process benefited
their group, Gottsegen replies, It allowed us to argue a lot!
Weve been around the table, with opinions 180 degrees from each
other, and wed talk til we met in the middle.
Taking it to the Hill
But labeling ingredients is far from the only standards need in
the artists paint industry. An especially important standard,
and one that youre likely to notice any time you buy an artists
material for your hobbies or your children, is the Practice for
Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health Hazards (D 4236), first
published in 1983. With largely anecdotal evidence presented to
Congress regarding sickness due to use of inadequately labeled
artists materials, the artists paint industry found itself,
in the 1980s, under fire from a public supportive of the threat
of state-by-state legislation. But once again, ASTMs consensus
process offered the way out of a quagmire. People in the industry
picked up right away on my suggestion that we use the ASTM committee
to reach a consensus among users, public interest groups, toxicologists,
state health representatives, and manufacturers on a program agreeable
to everyone, says Joy Turner Luke, an artist and founding member
of the subcommittee who was its chair when the health labeling
standard was written.
With virtually the whole industry turning out to develop this
standard in ASTM, D01.57 found itself host to artists paint manufacturers
from the United States, Europe, and Asia. Once the standard was
complete, Luke says, we were able to go to Congress and tell
them wed had representatives from public interest groups, from
artists organizations and manufacturers, and we all agree this
is what we want. And Congress passed the law. So instead of the
manufacturers fighting the users groups, it was a way for them
to come together in ASTM and settle a very controversial issue.
Consequently, the designation number of the resulting standard,
D 4236, has been found on all artists materials since the introduction
of the law (the Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act) requiring
this in 1988. Compliance enforcement began in 1992.
Unlike the days of Henry Levison, when he was a maverick in his
field for copiously labeling his tubes of paint and using his
own money to conduct important lightfastness tests on his products,
today almost every manufacturer has a lab on-site and strictly
follows a set of formulae for the manufacture of their paints.
And ASTM Subcommittee D01.57 has had a hand in this. Gottsegen
says, A lot of this development has to do with advances in science
and the work of the ASTM subcommittee in standardizing the minimum
performance and labeling requirements for some of their products.
||Approved Standards Developed by Subcommittee on Artists Paints
D 4303, Test Methods for Lightfastness of Pigments Used in Artists
PaintsDescribes the ways in which pigments used in artists paints
(any kind of artists paint) can be tested for relative lightfastness
and details how the test results are to be evaluated in order
to place products in one of five Lightfastness Categories.
D 4302, Specification for Artists Oil, Resin-Oil, and Alkyd Paints
D 5067, Specification for Artists Watercolor Paints
D 5098, Specification for Artists Acrylic Emulsion Paints
D 5724, Specification for Artists Gouache Paints
Standards for the labeling, composition, physical properties,
and performance requirements for these types of paints. There
are performance and property requirements for the various paints,
which make it necessary to have separate standards for them. In
addition, the different binders affect the lightfastness of pigments,
and it is necessary to have separate tables of approved pigments.
D 4236, Practice for Labeling Art Materials for Chronic Health HazardsThis
practice describes a procedure for developing cautionary labeling
for chronic health hazards in art materials. All art materials
sold in the United States are required by federal law (the Labeling
of Art Materials Act of 1988, to conform to this standard, and
to display on the container label a statement to that effect:
Conforms to ASTM D 4236. Some labels then might have two conformance
statements: Conforms to ASTM D 4236 and D 4302, for instance.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has been charged by Congress
to enforce this use of the standard.
D 5383, Practice for the Visual Determination of the Lightfastness of
Art Materials by Art TechnologistsThis practice describes a method
for testing the relative lightfastness of art materials not covered
by D 4302, D 5067,
D 5098, and D 5724: non-traditional materials like colored markers,
pastels, inks, colored pencils, and so on. The practice uses Blue
Wool textile fading cards as controls to determine when the proper
amount of natural daylight exposure has been reached.
D 5398, Practice for the Visual Determination of the Lightfastness of
Art Materials by the UserThis is a simplified version of D 5383,
intended for individual artists to use to evaluate their own non-traditional
materials for light permanence. It does not have as strict a set
of controls as D 5383, nor is it as accurate.
D 5517, Test Method for Determining Extractability of Metals for Art
MaterialsThis is a scientific technical method used in the evaluation
of art materials for determining labeling according to ASTM D
D 4838, Test Method for Determining the Relative Tinting Strength of Chromatic
PaintsThis is a highly technical instrumental method for determining
the tinting strength of a colored paint. It is more accurate,
but also more complicated, than the traditional method of reducing
comparative paints with a standard white and then drawing them
down side-by-side for visual comparison.
D 4941, Practice for Preparing Drawdowns of Artists Paste Paints
D 4941 is a relatively simple method that tells users how to prepare
samples, using the proper equipment, for testing normally thicker
artists paints for lightfastness according to D 4303. Industrial
drawdown equipment is designed for more liquid paintshouse paints,
industrial paintsthat flow slightly.
(Taken from subcommittee D01.57 Web site; click on Technical Committees/ Membership, search for D01 by