Pigment Workshop

Caroline, Jim and Elaine attend a three-day Pigment workshop

Jim mixing pigment with gum arabic

The workshop was led by Cheryl Porter. Cheryl  is based in Cairo where she is the Manager of Conservation and Preservation at the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation and Deputy Director of the Project. Cheryl has worked with the Paintings Analysis Unit at University College London and has published many articles concerning colour in manuscripts. She has lectured in the USA, Australia and throughout Europe.

Cheryl Porter

The morning lectures covered the manufacture of coloured pigments from rocks, minerals, plants and animals. The afternoon sessions were workshop based and concentrated on how the pigments were used by the medieval artist; how to grind, mix and paint with them. How to extract colour and make organic ‘lake’ pigments from brazil wood and unripe buckthorn berries, was also taught.

Making organic lake pigments

Some Manuscripts are fragile, having areas of flaking pigment or gilding – these cannot be transported and often cannot be digitized until the pigments have been consolidated. It is necessary to understand the properties of the pigments and how they are applied in order to successfully consolidate them. The third day of the workshop was spent discussing different techniques and materials that can be used to consolidate pigments and gilding, use of the microscope to take pigment samples for chemical analysis was also taught.

Following on from the workshop, we are experimenting with hyperspectral imaging, to see if it can help us identify the pigments used in manuscripts without the need to take invasive samples.

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