Shungite is an amorphous variety of graphite of intense black color, which outwardly resembles anthracite. Shungite is unique in its composition, structure and properties. It is a natural composite with a homogeneous distribution of crystalline silicate particles in a carbon matrix. The peculiar structure of shungite, characterized by highly dispersed silicate grains in the carbon matrix, determines its numerous practical applications. Shungite has high electric conductivity and considerable mechanical strength.
Origin and History
Shungite was named for the village Shunga near which a massive deposit of organic rich carbon was discovered in the Karelia region of Russia.
It is found only in the Zazhoginskoye deposit near Lake Onega in the Shunga region of Karelia, Russia. As a pigment it exhibits excellent hiding power, and in mixtures with other pigments imparts a deep black tone with a cool tint. In the former Soviet Union, an artist's colors manufacturer made high quality paint under the name of "Shungite Natural Black."
Permanence and Compatibility
Since shungite is carbon it is considered to be among the most permanent pigments in the artist's palette. It can be safely used in all techniques and combines well with all pigments. It is used effectively in all aqueous mediums, such as egg tempera, watercolor and casein.
Oil Absorption and Grinding
Shungite like its cousins, carbon blacks, absorbs a moderate amount of oil during dispersion, speeds up the drying of oil films, and forms a good flexible film. The oil absorption ratio is 100 parts by weight of pigment to 60 parts by weight of linseed oil. If the measurement were grams, umber would require 60 grams (by weight) of linseed oil to grind 100 grams (by weight) of pigment to form a stiff paste.
Shungite is not considered to be toxic but care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment so as not to inhale the dust.
Pigment: Shungite (Karelia, Russia)