Monday, February 27, 2017

Word of the Week: pigmentary


[pig-muh n-ter-ee]
1. of, pertaining to, having, or producing pigment.
Origin--1425-75; late Middle English: a dyer < Latin pigmentārius.  

Monday, January 16, 2017

2016 Buckthorn with vinegar paint results

Here are the paint results from these buckthorn and vinegar recipes in 2016.

I was able to make a nice sap green from the buckthorn with white wine vinegar by adding a little potassium aluminum sulfate (alum).

Note that the 25% acidic vinegar and buckthorn produced a thick juice that required more thinning and would require more water and more gum Arabic to produce a smooth paint.

When I added alum to both buckthorn and vinegar recipe it resulted in green!  By itself, the results were less satisfying and not what I would call green but more blue gray.

Side note: I think the shininess on the first two swatches is the result of a little too much gum Arabic.

Buckthorn with vinegar, twice in 2016

In 2016 I tried twice more to get green for paint or dye/stain from buckthorn.

Bolognese MS De Tintis ad Tigendum Pellum (Merrifield 426)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

2016 sap green from Buckthorn Experiment 2 Results

This experiment began in November 2016 and was finished up at the beginning of 2017.

The ripe buckthorn, Rhamnus spp., juice had been extracted from refrigerated, and slightly dessicated buckthorn berries from Saco, Maine. The berries were reconstituted with distilled water (DW), and then rock alum (potassium aluminum sulfate) was added to the juice.  Commercially available gum Arabic was then used with distilled water to paint it out on 12/23/16.

By 12/29/16 the dark blue had turned to dark green and further trials were performed. 

The change of color from blue to green suggests a few possibilities to me.  Either the alum had a chance to change the buckthorn after sitting with it for a while or it could have come into contact with calcium carbonate contaminates from the enviornment like egg or clam shell (neither of which are scarce in my house) or the Strathmore Bristol vellum finish paper is prepared with a buffer that reacted with the acids and berry juice. 

Further trials were painted out from the original berry juice with alum in the palette and shell with gum.  More distilled water was used to re-hydrate the paint and thin it out for greater visibility.

The juice with alum alone, in a clam shell and with crushed egg shell all yield what I would describe as a gentle sap green.  The trial with lye turned from a rather interesting olive to quite a bright yellow reminiscent of the yellow yielded from the green buckthorn drupes and in another ripe drupe recipe discussed here.

Buckthorn sap green Experiment 2, 2016

Merrifield 420 with variables

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Iris Green 2016

Last year for my pigment experiments I used aluminum sulfate from a dye company thinking that was the right kind of alum.  In 2016 I made Iris green clothlets with the medievally recommended alum, Rock Alum, which I learned is aluminum potassium sulfate or potassium aluminum sulfate, KAl(SO4)2·12H2O.

Iris Green Clothlets 2016 from De Arte Illuminandi

 Click "read more" below to find out how!

creating clothlets

I first learned about clothlets from Thompson's The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting.  It's sort of generic but encouraged me to do more digging... 

'the generic name, however, for cloths saturated in the colours was petia in Latin, and pezza or pezzetta in Italian...
Clothlets were a most convenient form of colours for illuminators. It was only necessary to put a bit of clothlet in a dish, and wet with a little glair or gum water, and the colour would dissolve out of the cloth into the binding medium, forming a transparent stain.  A good many colours were prepared in this way for late medieval book painting...' pg 144

From the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts glossary we find.
Clothlet: "A piece of cloth impregnated with PIGMENT (generally a vegetable dye). A portion of such cloth, when soaked in a little BINDING MEDIUM, releases its colorant and produces an artist's pigment. Clothlets are called petiae in Latin and pezze or pezzette in Italian; bisetus folii refers to clothlets dyed with folium, or turnsole, extract. Clothlets were a convenient way of carrying or shipping vegetal pigments, and they were especially popular from the fourteenth century on, with the growth of the textile trade. Glazes of vegetable dyes were often used to enhance other colours in book ILLUMINATION, since they created a rich, glowing, and transparent effect."

You can also find mention of them in this Getty Publication.  Once you start knowing what to look for, you will see a lot of references.

As the addage goes, 'Cleanliness is next to Godliness', so this year I took the recommendation of Jenny Dean in her book Wild Color scouring the linen for my clothlets.  I bought 'natural linen' from JoAnne Fabrics.  I don't know if it really is natural or it's dyed to look natural.

First I soaked it overnight in clear water filtered through my reverse osmosis (RO)filter.  In the morning, the water was light brown.  Yuck!  So, fabric from the fabric store is not actually the cleanest it can be, got it!

I dumped it out and refilled it with new clean, filtered water and measure 1 Tbsp dish soap (Dawn) and 2 Tbsp washing soda.  

I boiled it for about four hours.

When I pour out the water after boiling it is dark brown and quite dirty!

At this point I abandon the Reverse Osmosis filtered water and rinse in tap water until the water runs clear then wash it twice in my washing machine and air dry the linen. 

Looking at the internet it appears that 'finger' was commonly used to measure cloth and 'fistmele' I know from archery.. I used my index finger and fist to extended thumb to measure the clothlets.  We are in the modern world so I use my fabric scissors to cut the pieces to size.  Though we know medieval people had scissors too!  Next time I may use 'span' as I see that frequently as I poke around now.

Regardless, I now have clean rectangles of fabric for the next steps.  Yay!