Tom Snyder

May 2002




1. Alum – aluminum potassium sulfate used as a mordant.

2. Alkanet Root – from Alkanna tinctoria (Anchusa tinctoria). A plant from

Southeastern US, although other French and European sources were used as well. Soluble in turpentine or alcohol. When alum is mordant gives gray color. When steeped in linseed oil gives red mahogany color. Fugitive.

3. Archil - (orchill) fugitive blue stain from lichen that grows in Mediterranean. Litmus was made from the same plant or others like it by the same methods of soaking the lichens in alkali.

4. Aquafortis – nitric acid.

5. Aqua Regia – nitric and hydrochloric acid.

6. Biborate of Soda – borax.

7. Bitartrate of Potash – cream of tartar.

8. Blue Vitriol – copper sulfate, used as a mordant.

9. Brazilwood – (Caesalpina sappan or C. echtinata) S. American tree extract. Depending on mordant gives red, brown or purple. Can be fugitive depending on mordant.

10. Copperas – iron sulfate. Term originally applied to blue vitriol and later to all metal sulfates. Used as a mordant.

11. Chair-Maker’s Copper – a copper trough used to soak wooden parts in before bending. Used to take advantage of the copper leaching from the pot to mordant (react with) the stain.

12. Cutch – extract from Acacia tree resin (Acacia catechu) gives brown color.

13. Dragon’s Blood – originally a dark red resin from stems of Dracaena (Agavacaea). Now it comes from the Daemonorops species of Palms grown in East Africa. Alcohol soluble only.

14. Fustic – extract from Chlorophora tinctoria heartwood, relative of Mulberry and Acacia. Fugitive yellow to greenish color depending on mordant.

15. Glauber’s Salt – sodium sulfate. Used as a mordant.

16. Gamboge yellow resin from Garcinia tree from India, S.E Asia. Alcohol soluble.

17. Indigo – blue dye from plants of Indigofera tinctorum. Woad is related.

18. King’s Yellow – see orpiment.

19. Lamp Black – soot collected from flames, used for black pigment.

20. Litharge – lead monoxide from roasting white lead. Can be found as an orangish pigment or as a drier.

21. Logwood – also called Campeche wood. Red dye from Haematoxylum campechianum, a Caribbean tree. With mordants can give brown, black, blue or red colors. Reasonably lightfast.

22. Lunar caustic – silver nitrate.

23. Nitre – potash nitrate.

24. Oil of vitriol – sulfuric acid.

25. Ornato – literally "adorned", may have been a synonym for annato, a natural red coloring agent from Central and South America.

26. Orpiment – yellow pigment from arsenic trisulfide. Also called King’s Yellow, was (is) poisonous.

27. Pearlash – potash.

28. Plumbago – black lead or graphite.

29. Potassium dichromate – mordant used to stain tannic acid containing woods. Poisonous.

30. Prussian blue – ferric ferrocyanide. Also called Paris blue and Berlin blue, first made in 1704.

31. Quebracho – extract that naturally contains tannins.

32. Roman or Blue Vitriol – copper sulfate. Poisonous.

33. Rose pink – red colorant made from brazilwood extract precipitated onto whiting.

34. Safflower – safflower produced a red dye from the plant Carthamus tinctorius. Grown in southern Europe and Asia. Often confused with saffron by early writers. Fugitive dye often used for textile dyes but used as a lake as well. Also called assiette rouge or saucer colour.

35. Saffron – yellow dye from Crocus sativus. Also used as a spice.

36. Sal ammoniac – ammonium hydrochloride.

37. Saltpeter – nitrate of potash.

38. Sander’s Wood – sandelwood or sandalwood (Pterocarpus santalinus) produces reds and purples. Needs to be soaked and heated to extract colorants.

39. Sugar of Lead – lead acetate.

40. Spirits of Hartshorn – ammonia solution.

41. Sweet oil – olive oil.

42. Sulphate of Iron – copperas or green copperas.

43. Tumeric – crushed rhizomes (roots) of Curcuma longa, used for yellow color and also as major ingredient of curry.

44. Verdigris – blue/green copper acetate.

45. Verditer – copper dissolved in nitric acid deposited on whiting. Inexpensive green pigment.

46. Vermilion – red mercuric sulfide. Also called cinnabar when it naturally occurs.

47. White copperas - zinc sulfate.