Watching Paint Dry

paintdrythumb.JPGThis short video documents the results of a series of experiments in time-lapse micrography - the subject: drying paint...

The Setup

paintdry1.jpgI used my Intel QX3 USB microscope for this project - it's not a particularly great bit of kit - poor quality optics, low resolution noisy image sensor, atrocious software interface - but it works almost well enough for what I'm trying to do here.

The paints were just little pots of coloured decorator's emulsion (plus one of gold enamel) left over from some project or other.

paintdryred.jpgThe red paint was too thick and blobby to work with, so I mixed a little with some water and put a drop on a slide

The drying process wasn't really very interesting, but a noticeable change did take place.

paintdryblue.jpgThe blue paint needed less dilution and was placed on a piece of cheap paper torn from an exercise book.

It did become a little more interesting as it dried, acquiring a sort of eggshell finish.

paintdrygreen.jpgThe green paint also needed dilution - and this time, I put some on a glass slide and lit it from below.

The drying process was quite interesting - a bit like watching a pond freeze over.

paintdrygold.jpgThe gold paint was perhaps most interesting of all. It's an enamel paint based on an organic solvent (the others are water-based)

The particles of gold pigment were individually visible at 200x magnification, but the most intersting bit was the writhing, wavy motion of the surface as the solvent evaporated and the matrix material cured.

I'm Not Supposed To Enjoy This

Watching paint dry is supposed to be a stereotypical dull activity that nobody ever actually does, so I did spend quite a while trying to think of a way to make it at least slightly interesting.

Because that's what we're about here - taking idiom at its word, and leading it to places it doesn't really wish to go.

The Music

The background music is called Wonders Of Modern Technology and was produced by SampleMassacre for SoundSnap.


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