A Treatise Concerning the Arte of Limning – Nicholas Hilliard (ca. 1600)
Blackes. (p. 90 & 92)
Blackes. (p. 90 & 92) Blacks. (p. 91 & 93)
/ The best blacke is veluet blacke, wch is Iuory burnt in a Crucible and luted that Ayre enter not, mix therfor yr lutting with a littel salt, and let it nealle redd hot a quarter of an hower, then lett it coole, and grind it with Gume watter only, and washe it, in this maner, power watter to it by littel and littel, still stirringe it, and when it is as thine as Inke or thinner, let yt settele a whole afternoone, and poure from it the uppermost, wch is but the Gume and fowlnes, good to put amonge Inke, the rest let drye, and keepe it in a paper or boxe, and use it as aforesaid, wth soft grinding it againe, or tempering, but one the grinding stone wth watter adding Gume in powder to it againe at discretion, ffor yo shall by using it, perceive if it haue too little gume, for then it worketh ill, and dryeth to fast, if yo put too much gume, then it wilbe some what bright lyke oyle callor, wch is vylde in lymning Take this for a generall rule, that Lymning must excell at all Painting in that point, in that it must giue eury thing his proper lustre as weel as his true cullor light and shadowe. / Other blackes are made in lyke maner, as of Chery stones, Datestones, Peachstones, and common Charkecole, willowecole, or any thinge that burneth burneth blacke, these burnt and grinded as aforesaid, but they need no washinge / Noate also that veluet blacke after it is drye in the Shell, it worketh neuer more soe weell, as at the first grinding or tempering, wherefore for principall workes, and euen for the Centor of the eye, being but a little tytle, I use alwayes to temper a lyttle one my grinding stone, hauing it alwayes in powder ready grinded, washt, and dryed for store, Soe use I to haue most of my other cullors, that I may easely temper then wth my finger in a shell, adding Gume at discretion / soe haue I them always cleane and fayer, and easyer to worke. / Thus a limner should doe, but for sparing time and cost, some use to worke out of theire ould Shells of cullors, thoughe they be naught and dusty.
The best black is velvet black, which is ivory burnt in a crucible, and luted, that air enter not ; mix therefore your luting with a little salt ; and let it anneal red hot a quarter of an hour, then let it cool and grind it with gum water only, and wash it in this manner: pour water to it by little and little, still stirring it, and when it is as thin as ink, or thinner, let it settle a whole afternoon, and pour from it the uppermost, which is but the gum and foulness, good to put among ink. The rest let dry, and keep it in a paper or box and use it as aforesaid with soft grinding of it again, or tempering, but on the grinding stone with water adding gum in powder to it again at discretion ; for you shall by using it perceive if it have too little gum, for then it workest ill and dryeth too fast ; if you put too much gum then it will be somewhat bright, like oil colour, which is vile in limning. Take for this general rule, that limning must excel all painting in that point, in that it must give everything his proper lustre, as well as his true colour, light and shadow. Other blacks are made in like manner, as of cherry stones, date stones, peach stones, and common charcoal, willowcoal, or anything that burneth black ; these burnt and grinded as aforesaid, but they need no washing. Note also that velvet black, after is dry in the shell, it worketh never more so well as at the first grinding or tempering ; wherefore for principal works, and even for the centre of the eye, being but a little tittle, I use always to temper a little on my grinding stone, having it always in powder ready grinded, washed and dryed for store. So use I to have most of my other colours, that I may easily temper them with my finger in a shell, adding gum at discretion ; so have I them always clean and fair and easier to work. Thus a limner should do ; but for sparing time and cost some use to work out of their old shells of colours, though they be naught and dusty.