Almost 3 years ago I planted a peach tree in our garden. Then my interest in making my own pigment had not started yet. But after Master Johannis had been at Double wars in May last year I have learned a lot. One of the things I learned is that peach stones was used to make black in the middle ages. Il libro dell´arte and the Brussel manuscripts are two different sources that mentions burned peach stones when making black pigments. So this summer I saved a pile of peach stones and last weekend I decided to make pigment of them.
The peach stones was burned into charcoal with the help of a propane torch. It only took a couple of minutes for them to turn to charcoal and even if this is not the period way to burn something to charcoal it was the easiest and fastest way. This way I also made sure no charcoal from wood was mixed with the peach stones as it might have been if I choosen to use a wood fire.
Broke and grinded the peach stones in a mortar and picked out the pieces that had not turned to charcoal (should have burned them one more time) and then grinded them with a muller on a slab (dry and wet grinded).
To make paint of it I added gum arabicum and a little honey. I prefare to add dry gum arabicum to the pigment and grind them together with water to paint. I think it is much easier to avoid adding too much gum arabicum this way. One does not want to add too much gum arabicum since this will make the paint crack. It is not fun when your working on a scroll and realize that the colour flakes off! Different pigments require different amounts of gum arabicum! I always test paint the colour before I collect it from the slab and into a shell or other storage (if the pigment react with the lime in the shells).
The black turned out really good and I am very satisfied with the result. The shell I used is a thick shelled river mussel called tjockskallig målarmussla in Swedish (Unio crassus). Their is three kinds of painter mussels in Sweden. All of them is protected and forbidden to pick alive (or move). You are however allowed to pick abandoned shells and I got help from Sir Ludvig that picked these for me in the shire of Baggeholm.