ConestogA Pigments

Winter seems to be coming quickly this year, and while it was cold this morning (11 °C / 52 °F) the week’s forecast called for even colder weather as the week progresses, so I decided to collected pigment from the Conestoga River today.  Because of the rain we’ve had, the river is pretty muddy, but the bigger problem was that the water has also risen above where I collected last time.  This meant that I had to stand in the water to collect my colours and dig it from beneath the flowing waters.

The bank of the Conestoga River continues to amaze me … every six inches there seems to be a different layer of clay present.  One layer will be mid-gray and silky smooth; the next dark-gray and lumpy; the next light brown and sand: it just goes on and on the deeper one digs.

I had been looking specifically for the light sienna veins I found last time, but I also collected some of the more distinctive types of clay as I came across them.  I have an idea of a way to use this clay too, but I’ll get to that in a later post.  After three hours in the water the cold started to get to me and I noticed that my fine motor skills were beginning to fail, so I finished up my collecting.  The cold snuck up on me, and it wasn’t until I was out of the water that I realized just how cold I had become (it took me the rest of the day to get the cold out of my bones!).

After a hot cup of tea made me feel much better, I lite a fire in my studio and began purifying the samples.  In most cases this will take a day or two, but because I’m curious, I also loaded up my little kiln and fired a small sample of each pigment or clay I had collected in it’s unpurified form.  The samples stayed in the kiln for six hours, and will then cool down overnight.  I’m looking forward to seeing what’s happened to them tomorrow.

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