Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Did you know... Ivory Black?

Elephant Moon
Graphite sketch by Estelle Rocca-Serra
Traditionally Ivory Black pigment, as its name suggests, was made of raw ivory cuttings, packed tightly in irons pots, to exclude as much oxygen as possible, and placed in large kilns. The carbonisation of Ivory, in this oxygen free environment, produced the beautifully fine and slightly blue tinged pigment.

Only highly experienced, and therefore rather old, firing masters would know the perfect combination of temperature and firing time, by testing the surface of the kiln with the back of their hand. A lost art.

The genuine pigment has not been seen on the market since the 1940’s and nowadays only the name remains, even though the current pigments are made of charred bones.

Well, regarding the use of Ivory, we can completely understand the attitude of the elephant here… Moon away my friend, moon away!

Stay tuned...

Source: The material and techniques of painting, Kurt Wehlte.

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