What’s in a colour

I’ve begun looking at pigments to colour the ‘Titian’ Strad I’m making.  From the ‘Pigments through the ages’ website, we can see that brown, yellow, and red pigments used in the 1650-1750’s included:

  • Lead-Tin Yellow 15th-18th Centuries.  Lead stannate (Type I), Lead tin oxide silicate (Type II).
  • Indian Yellow  15th-19th Centuries, Magnesium euxanthate.
  • Vermilion (aka cinnabar) 8th Century on.  Used by the painter Titian, the color of whose paintings inpsired the naming of the Titian Strad. Mercuric sulfide.
  • Red Lead (aka minum) Lead(II,IV)-oxide.
  • Orpiment (aka King’s Yellow), Arsenic sulfide.  Used in Asia and Persian, but not Northern Europe.
  • Realgar, Toxic Arsenic sulfide.
  • Madder Lake (Natural: garanza lake, Synthetic: Alizarin), most widely used in the 18th and 19th Centuries.   Often refered to as the colour used most often by the Cremonese makers.
  • Yellow Ochre, Iron oxyhydroxide.
  • Red Ochre, Anhydrous iron(III)-oxide  (Aka Cinabrese, Synthetic: Mars Red).
  • Umber, comes in Raw Earth and Burnt varieties.  A natural mixture of iron and manganese oxides and hydroxides.
  • Carbon black, (aka Charcoal black, vine black, lamp black).
  • Bone Black (aka ivory black, bone charcoal) It contains about 10% carbon, 84% calcium phosphate and 6 % calcium carbonate. It is made from charring of bones or waste ivory and has a black-blue hue.

These are period pigments and all are very light-fast.  Other organic dyes can be extracted from a variety of plants, etc, but in those cases you have to weary of fading.

Note that some of the above are opaque pigments and some are translucent.  Opaque’s are good for touching up blemishes, but should be avoided for varnishing new instruments.

For the current instrument, I’m exploring Vermilion, and Alizarin (Madder Lake).  Here are some colour samples.  I’m using synthetic pigments based in linseed oil.

2 responses

  1. Pingback: Is all Black, Black? « ecollage

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