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Verdigris fun

For a project I am working on, I have been experimenting with creating a historically correct blue or green stain for some wood. I am attempting to stain a pipestem blue/green such as is seen among many pipestems in the western Great Lakes including the two pictured in Seth Eastman’s Chippewa Indians Playing Checkers.

I know that verdigris was a common pigment on trade lists as well as was obtainable from corroded pots and kettles. So using this, I have been experimenting.

The first bottle (in the images below) has strips of scrap copper that are soaking in vinegar. At the time of the photo, they had been soaking for 10 days. It is a nice aqua-blue, but when applied to the wood, leaves no color. I think I will add more copper (perhaps shavings) and wait to see if it darkens more over time.

The second bottle is bear oil (rendered bear fat) into which I scraped the “verdigris” off of some old copper scrap. It has also sat for 10 days and has now colored the oil. I have not put this on the wood yet and am not sure if it will stain it or if so, how dark.

A final thought is to take some processed indigo, a common dye of the period but possible not so commonly obtained in the western Great Lakes, and create a stain from it. I will await my results with the above verdigris first.


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