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Felt like Scarlett Johansson from “Girl with a Pearl Earring” today. In today’s material studies lecture “The History, Characteristics and Analysis of Paint”, we got to step into the shoes of 17th century artists and make pigments and dyes from cochineal beetles, parsley and buckthorn berries.

Dried cochineal beetles used to produce red dye:

After grinding the beetles in a mortar, we added potassium carbonate:

Upon adding boiling water, the crushed beetles turned into a solution of beautiful deep purple, while the buckthorn berries turned orange:

Feeling like Severus Snape in potion classes! Guess this is the closest thing I will ever get to Hogwarts…

The result:

As a little side project, Ben made a green dye out of parsley and gum arabic. This particular dye was often used for medieval manuscripts:

Classes are so much fun this year! It is like kindergarden all over again – getting messy and playing around with paint!

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