Monday, December 06, 2010

More on sanguine

It's a naturally occurring mineral, mined for centuries in Italy (natch), that can be used straight in chunks, or combined with other things like oil and other coloured chalks to produce things like this:

Apparently, my instinct to save the powder from the sandings was a good one. (It comes of having been raised by a post-war baby who grew up in England during rationing. You never, ever throw anything away that might come in useful). You can combine the powder with water to make a sort of ink that can be used with a brush. I haven't done very much ink-and-brush work, but the little I've done has been with the el-cheapo big plastic bottles of water-based calligraphy ink I used to buy in Chinatown in Vancouver. Great fun, and because it's so cheap, you can be pretty lavish with your experiments and not feel guilty.

Of course, now I'd give my eye teeth for just one bottle of the stuff, since Rome has no Chinatown.

Anyway, sanguine pencils apparently have quite different properties from the pure mineral. You can cut little bits of it, put it in a metal holder and get some very fine lines. You can use the powder dry to dust over a bit that you want only slightly toned (I already figured that one out all my myself! Woo!) and it does all sorts of interesting things on a wet canvas or paper ground.

I wonder if anyone has any tips for the Amazing-Disappearing-Sanguine-Line problem.


Sanguine ink drawing by Stephanie Goldman.

Must try this!



Anonymous said...

Mummy brown (seriously) was a very popular pigment in the sixteenth and seventeenth century. One pigment monger said that one mummy would supply all his customers' needs for twenty years.
(verification word moclutol)
Hugh of Niagara

Anonymous said...

Conte crayon sanguine is probably using water-soluble wax (beeswax saponified by ammonia), and probably the same goes with other brands of drawing sticks and pencils.
Hugh of Niagara
(verification word siver)

Anonymous said...

It seems that good pure sanguine lumps are virtually impossible to get hold of now. the mines are exhausted and most of what is available is full of impurities. i believe this began to happen in the 18/19th century. When you find a piece which is pure it is incredibly smooth but I'm beginning to think that the answer lies with conte, or good old red oxide