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Old 02-08-08, 11:38 PM
Aneira
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Default lapis lazuli (and hello!)

Hello, everyone! I'm very excited to find this forum. Before I get to the meat of my question, here's some an introduction:

I am interested in painting with the traditional materials and techniques used for medieval manuscript illumination. Until the past six months, most of my painting has been with acrylics, but I have since done a small handful with natural pigments and tempera binders (both yolk and glair).

My question regards lapis lazuli. This has been a difficult pigment for me to work with. I obtained the dry pigment from naturalpigments.com, ground it with a muller, and stored it under distilled water. I did NOT use the "extraction" process described by Cennini. Does anyone have experience with this? A redaction of the recipe and process would be most helpful, although I am quite leery of working with lye.

At any rate, I am used the lapis as received (after mulling). My surface supports have varied: I've used vellum, opaline vellum, and paper. At first I used glair as the binder, but the lapis did not disperse in the glair well at all and it was very difficult to get even coverage. Yolk worked better--great, in fact--until I layer vine black/glair over the top of it. At this point, the lapis tends to crack and flake off the support (regardless of the type of support) in those areas. I have not had this problem with any other pigment, and it is getting quite frustrating.

These links don't show the problem specifically, but do show the type of painting I'm doing. Both painted areas are roughly 10 inches high by 7 inches wide.
http://www.aneira.org/geof_laurel.html
http://www.aneira.org/tristan_cbar.html

Any ideas about this problem would be appreciated!

Many thanks,
Aneira
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  #2  
Old 03-08-08, 01:58 AM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Aneira,

Welcome! I just had a glance and I think your work is exciting and exquisite.. and your penmanship is so beautiful I don't blame you for making a book of hours. I will have to look again when there isn't a diaper waiting for me to change. (Sorry too much information. )

If you do a search you will find many threads about lapis lazuli. I haven't had a chance to work with it myself yet, but I'm sure you'll will find good advice here.

I do have a few little thoughts for what they are worth. Maybe a thinner application with many layers of dry brushing may work, allowing the paint to cure between layers. (Cracking often happens with thick wet paint.) Maybe you could consider casein emulsion which is said to work on many different surfaces, and may be useful for binding gritty pigments. Another option might be to consider another pigment like ultramarine blue.

But I am certain there are others that have far more experience with much to suggest.

I look forward to seeing more of your work, which is quite remarkable.

all the best, jp.

Last edited by jpohl; 03-08-08 at 02:01 AM.
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Old 05-08-08, 03:24 PM
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Hi Aneira;

I don't really have an answer to your question re: Lapis Lazuli, but I just wanted to say that your work is exquisite.

Kremer/Sinopia sells genuine LL, but I realize it can get really expensive to try the different kinds. Also, Daniel Smith sells what they say is a genuine LL watercolor, so you might want to look into that as well.
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Old 05-08-08, 03:48 PM
Aneira
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Thanks, that's always nice to hear. :-)

If I do decide to go ahead with the lye extraction, I will post to let everyone know the results. And yeah, the lapis is pricey enough that I can't really afford to get samples from a variety of suppliers. I've been happy with everything else I've gotten from naturalpigments.com.

Perhaps someone with more chemical knowledge than me might be able to answer this: after the pigment is extracted with the lye and allowed to dry, is it safe to touch? Obviously not while it is wet, but does the toxicity of the lye evaporate off with the liquid?

Aneira
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Old 07-08-08, 06:27 PM
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jpohl jpohl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneira View Post
Thanks, that's always nice to hear. :-)

If I do decide to go ahead with the lye extraction, I will post to let everyone know the results. And yeah, the lapis is pricey enough that I can't really afford to get samples from a variety of suppliers. I've been happy with everything else I've gotten from naturalpigments.com.

Perhaps someone with more chemical knowledge than me might be able to answer this: after the pigment is extracted with the lye and allowed to dry, is it safe to touch? Obviously not while it is wet, but does the toxicity of the lye evaporate off with the liquid?

Aneira

Let us know how it works out. I had to laugh when I read the section in Cennini: http://www.noteaccess.com/Texts/Cennini/2a.htm

Quote:
When you find that it is dry, put it in leather, or in a purse, and leave it alone, for it is good and perfect. And keep it to yourself, for it is an unusual ability to know how to make it properly. And know that making it is an occupation for pretty girls rather than for men; for they are always at home, and reliable, and they have more dainty hands. Just beware of old women. When you get around to wanting to use some of this blue,take as much of it as you need.
mmm. by 14 century standards I'm probably an old woman...

Last edited by jpohl; 07-08-08 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 08-08-08, 08:01 PM
Alessandra Kelley Alessandra Kelley is offline
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Remember that lapis lazuli is the natural form of Ultramarine Blue (or rather, Ultramarine is artificial lapis blue ...). If you've worked with Ultramarine, you know it has some peculiarities, like "stringiness". Maybe the natural pigment is also a little temperamental.

Anyhow, it's fantastic that you're doing this work.
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Old 22-09-08, 09:39 PM
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Dimitris C. Milionis Dimitris C. Milionis is offline
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they say that the best quality lapis lazuli is found in the mines at Sar-e-Sang, Badakhshan province of Afghanistan, but its been at war since I was born so its expensive due to such difficulties as war and bad mining
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Old 28-09-11, 02:32 PM
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Khem Caigan Khem Caigan is offline
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Default Re: Lapis Lazuli (and Hello!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aneira View Post
Thanks, that's always nice to hear. :-)
<SNIPS>
Perhaps someone with more chemical knowledge than me might be able to answer this: after the pigment is extracted with the lye and allowed to dry, is it safe to touch? Obviously not while it is wet, but does the toxicity of the lye evaporate off with the liquid?
Aneira
Hi, Aneira!

Looks like this thread has been dormant for quite
awhile but, no, the toxicity of the lye does not
evaporate away from the Lapis - the Lapis must
be further washed with water and rinsed several
times.

I suggest comparing Cennini's technique with the
simplicity of Michael Price's procedure, which is
described on his website :

*Equipment, Levigation Techniques, Tests and
Chroma Panels*
http://tinyurl.com/62abtuf
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Old 09-09-15, 08:05 PM
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I know the thread has been dead for awhile, but I think you may want to contact natural pigments to determine what they do to produce their lapis. I'm pretty sure that Kremer (who produces Fra Angelico Blue as well as Ultramarine ash) uses the traditional method described by Cennini to procues these products. Ultramarine ash is what is left over after the third extraction.

I would also suggest that Master Pigments does the same type of extraction. I believe that they even have a youtube video showing how the extraction is performed.

My experienc has been that given how fine lapis and azurite work due to their minerality you need to approach their use in thinner apllications.

Mark
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Old 24-12-15, 06:19 PM
arbrador arbrador is offline
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Default my experience making lapis lazuli pigment

Sorry for the late response and my experience dates back 20+ years ago so I don't remember it well- should have taken notes.
When I read about the process in Thompson's translation of Cennini's manual I had to try it.

1.I went to my local gem store and bought rocks of raw lapis from Afghanistan. There were some flecks of pyrite (fool's gold) in it but not much.

2. Found a brass mortar and pestle that my parents were using for pen and pencil holder near their telephone. I thought it was decorative but turns out it was heavy and did the job.

3. Pulverized the lapis stones.

4. Purchased beeswax from a violin shop

5. Purchased mastic tears from ??? can't remember.

6. Followed Cennini's directions for melting all together.

7. Then you're left with a silly putty like ball of a beautiful blue color.

8. I left it for about a month to allow the color to infuse.

9. Then I did don gloves and kneaded it under lye

10. I extracted about 4 shades of pigment. Sorry can't remember the details

RESULT
Even the strongest part yielded a gray blue that I recognize as "ultramarine ash"
It's a beautiful color but not the strong pure ultramarine-type blue I had expected.

Although the results were not great the experience was transcendent and really not that hard so I highly recommend it if you have the time and maybe one of us will figure out how to make it work better.

Back to regular old ultramarine synthetic. For some reason I prefer the shade of Createx brand ultramarine.
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