French Cassel Earth: Bringing it up to Speed

The particular family of natural bituminous earth that we use in our French Cassel Earth is a notoriously slow drier. How slow? We are literally talking many weeks for even a paper-thin layer to become fully touch dry. Readers might recall that we wrote about a similar issue with Van Dyke Brown, which happens to be made from the same type of pigment. Borrowing the same traditional technique we used there, we have decided to remedy this by blending a very small smidgen of Raw Umber (less than 1%) into the mix, which brings the overall drying time down to less than a week. This addition is essentially unperceivable in terms of the color or handling and allows us to avoid using high levels of cobalt-mangenese driers.

Naples Yellow Italian – A Reluctant Change

Announcing the change in a beloved color’s formulation is never enjoyable, especially when it involves such a cherished cornerstone of the Williamsburg brand as our Naples Yellow Italian. From the beginning this was made from a particularly beautiful shade of a single pigment, PBr 24, Chrome Antimony Titanate. Many painters will seek out and covet single pigment colors because of the clarity and purity they can offer, as was certainly true in this case. Unfortunately, the pigment we relied on for so many years was recently discontinued by the manufacturer and we have been unable to locate another single pigment that can remotely fill the same role. Faced with this situation, we decided to try and create a blend that can hopefully match the essential qualities that made this color sing in such a special way. After a slew of trials, we opted for a recipe based on a closely related but deeper shade of the same pigment, PBr 24, modifying it with Titanium White and then bringing in some Cadmium Yellow Deep to hold onto that warm blush of milky peach that was at its heart. You can see the two colors side by side below:

Williamsburg's Naples Yellow Italian
Creating a perfect twin was probably always a bit beyond reach, but we hope you find these two to be extremely close. Admittedly, the new one is a touch warmer in tints and not quite as deep in masstone, so longtime devotees will undoubtedly need to adjust a touch here and there. But hopefully, if you give this new blend enough time to settle in, it will prove its worth and worthiness as a successor to a great color with a long history.