Wednesday, August 5, 2009

bastard saffron

So called because the tint derived from Carthamus tincturus, or what has been called safflower, carthame, or safranum, is 2nd rate yellow. When Carthamus is not 2nd rate yellow, it's 1st rate pink, and then it's Pink Saucers, Rouge, Rouge Vegetale, Chinese Rouge, and Carthamus Pink, the strangest gouache I've come across, a pinkish-red goo smelling like cloves and cinnamon with a stain so powerful it can never be successfully overpainted. It's hue changes with the light, sometimes more pink, other times more orange, the tiniest trace tints water a luminescent rose through which orange threatens to break at any moment. This tincture known also as Natural Red 26, once mixed with chalk, became the French's rouge and the blood red of Geishe's lips. From the Pigment Compendium:

Dyes were produced from fresh flowers, which were collected during the morning shade and dried on muslin trays before storing in bins. Other methods of producing safflower dyes included collecting the heads of flowers before they faded on the plant and removing the yellow corollas. The yellow dye could be extracted by washing the corollas for three to four days in acidifed water, which made the pigment dissolve. The principal color is carthamin.

In a description of the properties of Fuchsine, a magenta pigment that became Carthamin's rival when it was invented in 1859, color was described as a resonance dependent on a chemical's molecular geometry. That's a thought to hide in one's pillow.

1 comment:

Cotton Wool & Silk said...

I just love all I learn from you! And in a beautiful way. . .