Chewing my keyboard

Friday, April 01, 2005

Other unusual and gross facts I learnt yesterday

Woad was one of the original blues. Woad smells bad and dyes your hands. It smells so bad that woad-dyers had to live on the outskirts of medieval towns... I know the last bit because I watched "The Worst Jobs in History" some time ago, amongst which was woad dyer. This program also included that most reverend of jobs - the guy who wiped the King's backside (a well-respected job that obviously involved a lot of trust since you were standing right next to the king and directly behind him several times a day).

Caput Mortuum means 'death's head' supposedly after the colour of skulls in the Rome catacombs. I ordered 2 Caput Mortuum pastels (it's a violet-brown colour that looks a bit like dried blood) and it did sound a bit of a morbid name when I saw it.

Red attracts attention because it's a long wavelength adn thus appears to come 'out' of the picture.

Being an artist was a pretty lethal thing to do in the past since from what I can see, a fair few pigments seemed to involve some compound of arsenic. As far as I know, a lot of pastels still contain cadmium (cadmium red, etc.) which means I'm pretty stupid working doing big pastel drawings in the space I live in and I'm also relatively stupid deciding I like doing oil painting (since turpentine and white spirit reek). In the latter case, I've bought an environmentally friendly solvent that smells of oranges.

And the most ultimately gross - mummy brown was used as an art pigment for around 120 years... The name probably gives away where they extracted the asphalt from...

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