Ahhh…. The joy of vacation. I’m just back from NYC where I was able to meet up with Risky Megan which was loads of fun. I am assuming she will have excellent news to share with us soon. My trip to NY was writing business related as it turns out I got elected to the RWA Board of Directors. And yes, for those of you wondering, my tiara was a perfect fit. (grin) I looked very spiffy.
I’m home now and on vacation for the rest of the week, which is lovely and so far I have done an epic amount of not very much at all.
I am going to share an interesting thing I came across the other night as I was
procrastinating, beginning my vacation doing important research.
This pdf about medieval pigments is my favorite thing ever just about since that time I was working with my son on the Roman wax tablet project.
Don’t be fooled by the rather boring B&W cuneiform tablet photo on the first page. The rest of this document discusses pigments and bonding agents identified from the beginning of human history through about 1500 and talks about how to make them. With pictures.
This is fascinating for history geeks. And how did I find this you might ask? Because of twitter. Someone remarked on a story in which the author compared the heroine’s breath (or something) to cinnabar. And there was a WTF discussion and much wondering about cinnabar in food. And one person said the most they could find was some medieval references to recipes.
And I thought, huh. This cannot be right. If cinnabar was safe to eat we would be eating it now. And if it was not safe to eat, we would have stories that listed poisonous food people ate in times past, and we do not have such stories involving cinnabar. So I Googled the subject myself and found that first off, cinnabar is toxic. And second off, cinnabar and recipes occur in the context of recipes for paint.
And that lead me to the medieval pigments pdf which I read from start to finish with much excitement because that’s how we roll here at the Riskies.
It’s not much of a surprise to learn that modern chemistry has taken some of the vibrancy out of paint pigments. Some modern colors don’t have the iridescence of pigments that were once made from organic minerals or metals. OK, yes, also much of the poison (but not all). Don’t distract me with product safety arguments. Orpiment, by the way, is actually arsenic. Who knew? Certain colors and their composition are lost to us. The ingredients point, as well, to the importance of world trade. Ear wax, my friends, reduces froth in a binding agent. I did not know that either. Nor do I know who dug around in their ear and said, huh. I wonder what happens if I put this in the binding agent for my paint?
Now I am sharing this information with you. Because that’s how I roll.