Burning Nova Scotia Pigments


Image problem: Instead of this, we need a picture of ___ plates: second from left is reddish, third plate from the left is more intense, right plate is dark?

For some time I’ve wanted to see what might happen if I heated the pigments I collected from Nova Scotia. As anyone who has ever painted might remember, two of the most common colours found among paints are raw sienna and burnt sienna; the only difference between these two pigments being that one is heated. So, I decided to use the yellow ochre collected from Londonderry and experiment.

I started by using our household’s oven; first letting the pigment cook at 350°F and eventually moving up to the oven’s limit of 600°F. This heat brought out a reddishness and produced the second plate from the left in the photo at the top of this entry.

Next, I moved outside to use a butane-torch (roughtly 1300°C). This produced the third plate from the left, and deepened the colour further bringing out more of the red. In using the torch, the flame caused the pigment to glow like embers and when the heat was removed the pigment was black. But, once it cooled, it produced the colour seen above.

The last plate seen above is from a sample I threw into my fire pit when it was really going. It is a little dark, but I think it has the potential to be a beautiful Caput Mortuum but I need to experiment in a better controlled environment to know more.

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