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CHAPTER X: ARTIFICIAL COLOURS. BLACK


1. I SHALL now pass to those substances which by artificial treatment are made to change their composition, and to take on the properties of colours; and first I shall treat of black, the use of which is indispensable in many works, in order that the fixed technical methods for the preparation of that compound may be known.


2. A place is built like a Laconicum, and nicely finished in marble, smoothly polished. In front of it, a small furnace is constructed with vents into the Laconicum, and with a stokehole that can be very carefully closed to prevent the flames from escaping and being wasted. Resin is placed in the furnace. The force of the fire in burning it compels it to give out soot into the Laconicum through the vents, and the soot sticks to the walls and the curved vaulting. It is gathered from them, and some of it is mixed and worked with gum for use as writing ink, while the rest is mixed with size, and used on walls by fresco painters.


3. But if these facilities are not at hand, we must meet the exigency as follows, so that the work may not be hindered by tedious delay. Burn shavings and splinters of pitch pine, and when they turn to charcoal, put them out, and pound them in a mortar with size. This will make a pretty black for fresco painting.


4. Again, if the lees of wine are dried and roasted in an oven, and then ground up with size and applied to a wall, the result will be a colour even more delightful than ordinary black; and the better the wine of which it is made, the better imitation it will give, not only of the colour of ordinary black, but even of that of India ink.

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  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), ATRAMENTUM
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), DOMUS
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), FORNAX
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