Ivory Black & Iron Oxide Black

Historically, noire d'ivoire, elfenbeinschwarz, elephantinon, or ivory black was made from the ashes of burnt elephant tusks. When not thoroughly carbonized, ivory black leaned towards a warmer brown, but proper processing produced a rich, velvety black with a bluish undertone. Invented by Apelles (according to Pliny), revered by medieval artists who believed ink and paint sourced from elephants could ward off evil, and favored by the old masters, ivory black has endured in name alone since the 1930s.

Today, ivory black on a label usually means bone black. A slightly greasy pigment (less so than lamp black, but more oily than synthetics), bone black has difficulty with initial wetting, requiring good mulling to properly disperse the pigment into the binder. Bone black has a lower tinting strength and hiding power than the historic, true ivory black, but some of the same beautiful texture. 

If burnt bones isn’t your thing, our iron oxide black is a matte, opaque single-pigment paint that uses a synthetic iron oxide. Iron oxide black, aka Mars black, contributes granulation as well as darkening your paint mixes. This quality, though capricious, adds interesting mineral effects to your work. Embrace your adventurous side and start experimenting with this lovely variation and texture.