The Mystery of Pigments from Morocco.

24 09 2013

When Diane Ashmore  visited  Morocco she bought six “organic” pigments from the local souk, from a trader who didn’t speak English very well. Their origins are therefore a mystery but she has managed to identify some of them, although others will remain anonymous until the depths of time. The names for the pigments have been taken from the labels he wrote on them, although Diane suspect some of them may be incorrect.  She states

  • Murex: This is my favourite as it glistens in the light. It is composed of crushed sea shells, and when water is added turns to a bright turquoise in colour. This is the only pigment I’ve managed to positively identify. I have to be careful with it as any escaping flakes tend to dye anything it touches, including carpets, fingers, tabletops, sinks…


  • Mogadon Blue: I suspect this is plant-based and is possibly similar to Indigo.
  • Jojoba: I know that you can get oil from this plant, so perhaps another part of the plant can be dried and used to produce yellow.
  • Caba Caba: This is labelled incorrectly I suspect (possibly Cara Cara? but then that would be red?). It is a red colour when dry which turns to blue when wet. It could be smalt (made from glass) and hopefully doesn’t contain copper which is poisonous.
  • Rose: This is an interesting pigment as it becomes a very deep rich pink when mixed with a binding medium or water. It is possibly Rose Madder.
  • Pistache: This is my least favourite as it becomes a very pale green when mixed with binding medium (or perhaps it is better used as a dye for fabric).

I know that fabrics and items such as carpets and leather goods are produced in Morocco using these organic pigments. So it would be interesting to know if they can be used successfully in egg tempera without changing radically in colour over time.

Original article here



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