An alternative size?
- Hello everyone,
Necessity is the mother of invention, isn't it?
In view of the shortage of size, I wanted to mention that I came across som=
>may< work as an alternative, though I've not tried it yet.A simple starchy/sugar chemical structure called "glucomannan" is found in =
the roots of a
kind orchid, "orchis mascula", or Salep. This was recommended by Halfer as=
being just as
good as carragheen, but it was more expensive. This material was used hist=
Ebru in Turkey as well, as it is mentioned the the "Tertib Risale-i Ebri" d=
ated to 1608. A
special drink called "salep" is made from root powder dissoved in boilng mi=
lk , and
sweetened, sprinkled iwth cinnamon, and may be some nuts and coconut (at le=
ast they did
that in Egypt, where it is known as "sahlab"). It makes a very tasty winte=
r beverage, which
is soothing for a sore throat.
In doing a web searches on salep and glucomannans, I came across a web site=
glucomannans derived from a different source, the roots of konjac bulbs, wh=
ich are a LOT
cheaper than orchid roots. Konjacs are related to taro, and oddly enough t=
hey are related
to calladiums and "elephant ears" which are commonly grown in the US. Here'=
s the link:
you can read about the various products, and on the "order' link,
I think the Konjac glucomannan powder (500g) $19.00 - would be the one to =
A company rep named Michael Li [Tel (408) 257-1813] wrote me back:
"Our company focuses on food products base on konjac glucomannan. there are=
kinds different source for glucomannan, but the konjac plant is the major r=
glucomannan, the dried konjac root have about 60% glucomannan, 30% starch, =
it is the
richest resource for glucomannan."
I haven't had time to try this yet, but will do so when it gets a little co=
oler and I've
completed other projects.
it reminded me of Peggy Skycraft's wonderful presentation at teh San franci=
sco IMG on her
experiments with a variety of materials for size. Peggy- are you out there=
? i think you
had joined the list. As I recall, you came up with a pretty straight forwa=
rd way to test the
viscosity of the solutions. Would you care to share that with us again? y=
was very comprehensive, and I found your guidelines very useful when I expe=
with tragacanth and fenugreek, although it has been some time now.....
I did try salep a few times, but the quality of what I had purchased was ad=
starh- a common practice in Turkey for the beverage market. I tried again =
directions, but felt the mucilage was too thin. During my last visit, I pu=
rchased the dried
roots, which are threaded on a string. when soaked in cold water it yields=
a very clear gel
with light tackiness to it, much like boiled carragheen moss does.
Maybe this will not work as well for traditional water colors, but perhaps =
it is good for
acrylics? I know that the late Nüsret Hepgül told me he found that salep =
mixed well with
tragacanth and at about a 1:1 ratio, he felt that he acheived more delicate=
patterns this way.
I've written several companies in Asia regarding carragheen, but have yet t=
o hear back. it
is cultivated in southeast asia, and refined in China, the Phillipines, and=
however, I did hear a story on NPR once about the growing problems concerni=
world's oceans, and the sudden decline of ocean resources- largely fish, bu=
t many other
thigns as well. there were some indication that over-harvesting of seaweed=
ecologically disruptive and has led to a decline in the growth. I know tha=
t FMC raised their
stuff in a "Farm" out in the middle of the ocean, but other companies may n=
ot be so
So maybe it is worth taking the time to experiment.
Well, have fun trying! but let all of us know how it goes...