Marbling with "dirt" i.e. naturally ocurring pigment identification
- Please allow me to introduce myself to all the listmembers. My name is Jake
Benson, and I have been marbling for nearly 10 years. My passion is studying
the early development and use of marbled papers in the Islamic world. This
has lead me to experiment with traditional marbling methods and color
preparation. Currently I make all of my paint from pigment and gum arabic
solution, which I then mull on a slab of lithograhpic stone with a glass
> Yehuda Miklaf asked:I have actually experiemented with "found pigment". One time I used a number
> I would like to grind some local dirt (the magic of Jerusalem earth?!)
> and marble with it, but how can I tell in advance if it's going to work,
> and if it's colorfast.
of samples, including a particularly beautiful deep red lump of iron oxide,
gathered by a friend of mine while working as an epigrapher during an
excavation of a temple in Dakhla Oasis in Egypt. She theorized the ancients
may well have been used some of this type of local pigment to decorate the
temple. The Western Desert in Egypt is filled with iron oxide color, the
result of prehistoric volcanic eruptions, and there is a large modern mine
nearby the site, the source of much of Egypt's ochre, red, and brown paint
Many of the samples were too hard to hand grind. If a color is to be used, it
has to be ground very finely, then water is added, the solution is stirred
well so that there are no lumps, and the is saturated with color, then it is
allowed to settle briefly to allow the harder heaveier solids to settle, then
poured of into another container. The water is evaporated (or nearly so),
then the pigment is ground again in gum arabic solution using a muller on a
slab. The one beautiful lump of red I had instantly crumbled into nearly pure
iron oxide powder. It was no trouble grinding, with very minor "scratching",
yielding some of the best color I have ever prepared. When my friend goes
back to work there again, she try and find a little more.
Iron oxide colors were traditionally known as "Earth" colors, and they are
very lightfast. Historical colors that were so fugitive were known as "lake"
colors, and were made using a vegetable dye precipitated onto a mineral base
such as chalk or alum.
So, in short, Instead of chiseling something off the temple mount or the wall,
it would be better to look for an iron oxide mine near Jerusalem. I'm sure
you'll turn something up considering the whole region had plently of
prehistoric and biblical volcanic activity. Maybe if you bury it in Jerusalem
and dig it up it could be considered properly "consecrated"???
Have fun grinding!