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Event announcement: Lapis Lazuli: Myth, Matter and Majesty

Event announcement: Lapis Lazuli: Myth, Matter and Majesty

Lecture on Lapis Lazuli next week at the Bodleian!

The Book & Paper Gathering

Lapis Lazuli: Myth, Matter and Majesty

15 June 2015 10.00am — 11.50am

Venue: Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Oxford (Map)

Speaker(s): David Margulies introduced by Anita Chowdry


This lecture and demonstration will be an exploration of the myths, mistakes, and facts about lapis lazuli and the pigment, genuine ultramarine. The intention is to challenge, and investigate the ‘accepted wisdom’ surrounding the stone through geology and geo-politics, mineralogy, etymology, the manufacturing processes, and application in sculpture and paintings.

This event is free but places are limited so please complete our booking form to reserve tickets in advance.

http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/whats-on/upcoming-events/2015/jun/lapis-lazuli

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Preparing Shell Gold

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Preparing Shell Gold

The Book & Paper Gathering

A guest post by Anita Chowdry

My last few workshops on shell gold have been particularly rewarding as my participants have all been up for doing a little extra research and experimentation, which has had the effect of pushing forward my experience as well as theirs. Most participants are motivated to attend because of their frustration with using pre-prepared shell gold, which is invariably too coarsely ground to be useful for detailed work or calligraphy.

storks macro Particles of gold just visible in this close-up detail of a painting

The process that I teach is based on my experiences with an Indian gold-master in Jaipur. Mr. Patel’s workmen hand-beat 24 carat gold foil into very fine gold leaf. Working their mallets all day, they fill the neighbourhood with the music of their hammering. In the early 1990s, Mr Patel would personally grind this leaf into pigment of the finest division, such as…

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How to paint with 24 carat shell gold

How to paint with 24 carat shell gold

Anita Chowdry

The final product: finely powdered gold pigment stored in an oyster shell.Shell gold produced in a workshop with conservation staff from the Bodleian library.

As I periodically offer practical courses on how to make 24 carat “shell gold” pigment, I feel it might be useful to cover some of the applications of this marvellous pigment. The next shell gold workshops will take place on March 20th – 21st  and 17th – 18th April – please follow this link for more details.

Shell gold can be purchased from specialist suppliers and shops, but it is really not ground fine enough to enable you to understand and exploit its full capabilities. In my workshopsparticipants can learn the craft and make the very finest product, comparable to that used in the sixteenth century  royal ateliers of Iran.

The use of paper, as opposed to vellum or parchment,  developed very early in Islamic book arts , and ground gold pigment is more suited to…

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William Henry Fox Talbot and the Variety of the Photographic Archive: Exploring Oxford’s Photography Collections

History of Art at Oxford University

By Dr Mirjam Brusius

Last month’s blog post talked about the strong ties between the discipline of art history and the medium of photography. These ties go back to the very beginnings of photography whose 175th anniversary we celebrated this year. In 1839, photography was announced to the public in France by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787 –1851) and in Britain by the English Victorian scientist William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877). While Daguerre’s images, the Daguerreotype, were unique copies on a silver plate, Talbot’s process, the calotype, was reproducible and became the technique that we used until recently, when the birth of digital photography made analogue photographs almost redundant. Talbot is now primarily remembered as the inventor of photography, but he was an antiquarian and gentleman of science. From the beginning, Talbot’s interests ranged across the natural sciences, classical scholarship and, above all, decipherment of cuneiform script. 1839, when most thought him…

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