Betty’s (Bone) Black

A few months ago Betty Spackman sent three cow bones that she picked up during a trip she took to Albert. Most of the bones she collected are earmarked for an exhibition she is planning, but she was kind enough to send a few my way. As a thank you (and perhaps as something she can use for her show!) I wanted to make some bone black out of what she collected; here it is.

The bones that were sent were all of a good size, as you can see.

The first thing I had to do was break up the bone into smaller pieces. I did this with my great-grandfather’s cleaver (something created to break bones). I was surprised with how easily the bones broke and, with this tool, how carefully the bone bits could be separated.

Next, I separated the good pieces from the bad and tightly packed them into a crucible … and then into the fire.

The result was a nice, even charred-black bone. Even before opening the crucible I knew that the process had worked well because of the light, ping that sounded when I shook the canister.

Lastly, I broke up the bits of bone and ground them finely. The result was a solid, heavy black that I think will work well for pigment.

So with that all done I’ll forward the pigment onto Betty and see what she does …

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