PIGMENTS WORKSHOPSKathy Schultz (Lady Agatha of Tintagel) and Bjo Trimble (Maestra Flavia Beatrice Carmigniani) have taught their popular “Exploring Period Pigments” class at historical re-enactments, schools, for guilds, and at conferences. Students learn how to grind pigments with various binders, how to pick up an egg yolk, how to mix medieval watercolors and tempera. We have lots of fun and everyone learns something new in our workshops (even the teacher!). Lady A has extensive practical knowledge from creating many gorgeous scrolls for special events; Bjo is best known for her unusual illuminated scrolls. Both artists are available individually or as a team for pigment workshops in your area, wherever you may be.
HISTORICAL PIGMENTSMineral-laden earths are the world’s oldest known art materials, first used on cave walls around 400,000 years ago. Medieval and Renaissance artists used many of these colors, not always by the name we know. There was, and still is, a confusion of names from country to country.
NATURAL EARTHSUmber, burnt umber, sienna, burnt sienna, sinopia, caput mortuum, goethite, iron oxide, iron(III) oxide, ochre, Venetian red, and several other named colors are all various shades of iron oxide. The differences in color is due to how hydrated the earth may be, or if it was heated, or how light is diffracted through the particle size of the oxide. Earth colors are not consistent, even when in the same mine, so each order of the same color may be a slightly different shade. These strong, non-toxic, permanent pigments are compatible with most mediums.
DYE EXTRACTSDye extracts are natural dyes that have been processed with alum then dried into concentrated powders. A little goes a long way. They can be used for immersion dyeing as well as for pigments, or for hand-painting fabric, along with natural oxides. Dyes are more fugitive than earth oxides but with care, they can last a long time. Full instructions included with each order.
MIXED or ENHANCED: These two words as well as “mineral colors” and sometimes “oxides” can mean that two or more colors were combined to enhance the original color or to create a third color. This practice has historic precedence; Cennini noted that some natural colors need artificial help. “Earth oxide” is a modern merchandising term for mineral-colored earths/clays that may or may not be mixed or enhanced for more vibrant colors.
MODERN COLORSWhile a majority of the colors listed here fit well within the historic period of most re-enactments, some of them are quite modern, and are so noted. Metallics are modern bronze powders, for instance. Modern manufactured pigments are often called by historic names, even when the color no longer resembles like the original. Color experts triy to have manufactured color designated as a “hue”, but not all manufacturers bother with this distinction. Though information is not always forthcoming from suppliers, we always try to indicate when a color is mixed with other materials to enhance the hue or has been manufactured by modern methods instead of mined naturally.