For our second Festival of Creative Learning workshop, we decided that it was time to break out the vellum and quills! We wanted to have a session that was drop-in so that people could come in, play with colour, relax, and spend as much time as they wanted to on their take-away project.
So, we provided small bits of vellum (a mix of animal hides, including deer, cow, and sheep), quills, instructions and ideas, and the pigments. The first group of participants were lucky in that they got to be our assistants in mixing the pigments for use with vellum.
We ordered the oak gall ink so that we wouldn’t have to worry about collecting enough galls and mixing it ourselves. However, the indigo, verdigris, cochineal, and lead tin yellow did need us to mix it. A few volunteers were brave enough to try their hands at breaking the eggs and getting out the yokes!
Lead Tin Yellow
Mixing it with a little water and the pigments, we had the colours ready to go in no time. Then it was up to the participants what they wanted to draw (or colour)!
For three days in early October, we hosted workshops on Weld with P4 and P5 classes from the area as part of Rosslyn Chapel’s Schools’ Programme ‘Working with Weld’. The workshops were part of the Midlothian Science Festival.
We started each of the workshops with an introduction to medieval colours, including what colours were most common and how they were made. Students got to handle our wool and vellum samples before doing their own dyeing!
The workshop table set up.
Talking to the students about what we’d be doing.
Our pigments! Including cochineal, indigo, madder, and weld!
One of our goals of the workshop was not only to introduce key facts on medieval colour to the students, but to let them get to work with it! So, we made sure that each step of the dyeing process was divided so that each student would get a chance to help out in some way – from mixing pigments to adding wool to the vat to deciding it was time to pull the wool from the vat.
Mixing more pigment.
With some of the down time while we were waiting on the wool to dye, we discussed another pigment: cochineal. Some of the students got to crush a few of the cochineal before we added a little water to show them the colour that the bugs yielded. On the last day, we added the week’s cochineal dye to the vat to see what would happen. It changed the colour only slightly since the wool was only in the vat for a few minutes after the addition.
As a takeaway, we sent the students home with a handout on weld, as well as their own weld seeds and sample of dyed wool. We also bagged up some of the wool they had dyed for their teachers to use how they deem most appropriate.
Stirring the weld, and noticing it’s unique fragrance.
Adding more weld to the vat.
We loved working with the children at Rosslyn for our first schools’ workshops! They were all engaged and curious, and challenged our own thinking about colour. And we think they – and their teachers – enjoyed, it as well!
We’d definitely improve some of the smells if we could!!
Our faces change, too, when we realise what we have to do!
All hands up for volunteering!