greens

 What is it? A greenish-blue patina that is formed on copper or brass when exposed to air, sea water or acetic acid. Verdigris in the medieval period tended to be Copper(II) acetate. Used as a pigment by the Egyptians in the 13th century BCE. 

How is the pigment made? Take sheets of copper and suspend them over some vinegar. Put in an sealed container and apply heat. When a crust of verdigris has formed scrape off and grind.

Was it easily available in England? Yes. It is the main green all through the medieval period. 

Is is safe? Some debate, but probably best not to ingest it. Always take care to wash hands after touching and avoid inhaling raw pigment.

 

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Verdigris
Vergaut

 What is it? A secondary colour made of yellow and blue. 

How is the pigment made? Most commonly by mixing orpiment and woad together, but can also be made by mixing lapis lazuli and orpiment; indigo and lead tin yellow; azurite and lead tin yellow or copper green and lead tin yellow.

Was it easily available in England? Yes, it has been found in English manuscripts from the eighth century (e.g., the Lindisfarne Gospels) through to the fifteenth century (e.g., the Lovell Lectionary).

Is is safe? No (because of the orpiment or lead tin yellow). Wear a mask, gloves, and eye goggles in a well-ventilated area if handling the pigment.

 

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Malachite

 What is it? A naturally occurring mineral made of copper carbonate hydroxide (Cu2(CO3)(OH)2). Formed in caves. One of two basic copper(II) carbonate minerals, the other being blue azurite. It was mined in England in prehistoric times,

How is the pigment made? Take a chunk of malachite and grind in a mortar and pestle to a powder. Wash the powder in a lye solution and drain off the water. Dry and mull - although not too hard or the green will go grey.

Was it easily available in England? There is no evidence for use in English manuscripts. It has been identified in French manuscripts in the later medieval period.

Is is safe? Moderately toxic. Always take care to wash hands after touching and avoid inhaling raw pigment.

 

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