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The Story of “How Paint Ended Up in a Can”

The Story of “How Paint Ended Up in a Can”

This summer, I was asked to write a feature article for the 50Th Anniversary of the Paint & Decorating Retailer magazine. Appropriately, it became an article about the story of how paint ended up in a can! I love history and I love to tell stories in a way that alters and enriches the readers’ perspective. I also took the opportunity to showcase some of the paint memorabilia I have been collecting (“rescuing”) for over twenty years.

Historically, for as long as mankind existed, painters were the “mixers” of the ingredients of paint. The needs of the day dictated how much and what was mixed. The Industrial Revolution and an explosion in the population combined to create a situation where the needs for paint began to outstrip painters’ ability to meet the demand. Painters started begging manufacturers of paint ingredients to start making ready-mixed paints., thereby giving birth toe “paint can”.

As painters lost their foothold in paint-making, the Chemist emerged as the “King of the Hill”. The chemist became the “mixer” in the lab to meet an ever-increasingly sophisticated array of needs for paint. This article is a collection of anecdotes, pictures and artifacts that depict that transition, along with the major technological innovations that made it all possible.