Saturday, April 30, 2016

Saffron paint

One of the first pigment experiments I did was with saffron.  Didn't it turn out pretty?!

 Read on for my references and methods...

Saffron used as a dye in Medieval Europe. There's evidence that it was used in illumination to buffer verdigris (a green copper acetate). (Barkeshli) Not only to buffer verdigris but to bring out the highlights of other colors and enrich them. It was also used in pen flourishes around versals and around some gold frameworks around illuminations. (Thompson 186).

Read to the end of this article for other references I found later.

I put six threads of saffron into 1 Tbsp boiling water to infuse then dried it under a fan.  Unfortunately this slightly yellow liquid and light glaze after drying was not dark enough to produce yellow paint.  So I put a generous pinch of saffron into a jar, added another tablespoon of water, poured the pigment saturated water into the "saffron water" jar, let it dry.


Adding some distilled water and Winsor and Newton gum Arabic, we can see how medieval scribes could have easily used this pretty paint for flourishes and more.



Vegetable yellow pigments were of two kinds-those which were precipitated on a white earth, such as the different kinds of yellow lake, and those which were used as transparent colors, without any other preparation than that of expressing and inpissating the juice of certain plants.  Of the latter kind were saffron, the zafferano of Cennini, and aloes; the latter was chiefly used for coloring varnishes, or for heightening the colour of verdigris in the manner recommended by Leonardo da Vinci... (Merrifield clxiv)
Cennini (Thompson 32n, 33n 63n; character of, 29, 30; to temper 29, for dying linen, 29, 117)
(Broecke ...)





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