MGraham, problem

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    Okay MGraham users… I bought several of their watercolors and for days have been talking to Mitchell about this terrible algae-murky water-dirty fishtank smell… We thought it was the Willamette so have been shutting the window.  Then I moved my MGraham paints to my studio desk today and realized it is the PAINTS!!! AAACK! Mitchell smells it too.  Anyone know what color it is or do they all smell.  Seriously, this might be a deal breaker. I am writing to them — I always believe in contacting the maker — but thought to see if anyone else smells this.  I am not normally sensitive to smells, but this is also giving me a headache.



    Emails and several calls to MGraham and no response.  ZIP.

    Apparently one thing is that they’ve sold the business, so it is no longer owned by the founders. Because no one answers, and so I finally called Merriartist (excellent store) for advice.  I am not looking for them to replace all the paints but several smell badly and it is hard to figure this out. She gave me the secret phone number to contact someone in the MGraham products area… so left message.

    I gotta tell you, everyone everyone everyone else has numbers where people call and have return calls and employees are not hiding, so this non-response is not going to bode well with me.  It’s been a week+.  What I wanted from them was a head’s up if they’d gotten calls on any particular paint, because otherwise I am going to have to repour all these while I smell them — which I’d rather not do.  Sometimes companies have a head’s up on a pigment or paint gone bad.

    Lorraine Cooper

    As I am quite blind! lol, I notice smells very acutely and yes they do smell like kippers.

    I solved the problem by giving them away. I was told by a friend who keeps bees and makes products as well as selling honey, that because they have honey in them, if the honey hasn’t been “sterilised” it can get a fungus (as with all honey products). She said imagine if it was a jar of jam and everyday you opened it and then put back, within a couple of weeks it would have green fur on it. Same thing. So yes get back to the company but it is a problem with some products using honey.

    I hope it helps.
    (I have to say this so I don’t get sued)

    Without prejudice Lorraine


    Hi Lorraine and others, an update,

    I’ve had success (finally) contacting the NEW company (M.Graham’s creators sold their business) and Elke, who discuss the smells in the freshly loaded wet full pans said that she thought, from my description, that it was NOT a bad batch.  Instead, she said some people have sensitivity to some of the ingredients.  She gave me advice and I am following it.

    1) Let them thoroughly dry.

    2) When you rewet the paints, use distilled water.

    So they are still drying — as many know, M.Graham paints take a long time to dry!  When this step is finished, I will report back!

    Susan O

    Wow, did not know the company was sold! But it makes sense since the Grahams founded it over 25 years ago. I’ve never had the smell issue with MG watercolors, but I have heard that issue before. It is a very small company (unless a larger company bought it), so maybe give them a break and they may get back to you soon. I’ve always heard great things about their customer service.

    If you live on the Willamette, then you may not be that far from the factory 🙂


    Hi Susan,

    I updated and someone finally got back to me.  And I did give them a break — but really, they have a problem and what I had to walk through was a bit excessive for my complaint, though Elke was forthcoming.

    Things that are key (for me) to do business with.

    1.  Good product.
    2. A business has to have a transparent way to reach them.  MG’s new owners do not want to be reached.
    3. Everyone has mistakes, misbatches, etc.  It is how they handle the problem that determines if I will still do business with them.  As a two-person small business, we manage to connect and respond to our customers.  When I finally got through to them, I still was treated suspiciously.  Thankfully, Merriartist, who I buy from all the time, knows me, knows what I buy, and backed me on the return.

    I went through all the steps and finally after a couple of weeks they were as dry as they were going to get.  I had to return almost all the greens and many blues and a couple of browns that still gave me a headache and smelled badly from quite a ways away.  I HAD TO PAY FOR THE RETURN.  I like the quality of the paint on the ones I kept, but I won’t buy them again.  Not when there are great paint companies that fulfill my basic requirements.

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