9th Experimental Archaeology Conference demonstration – Smith Corby and Pettit

CookBook of Secrets: Making Color in the Studio and Through the Kitchen

Candice Smith Corby (Stonehill College) & William Pettit (John Cabot University, Rome)

Our proposal takes into consideration the combined interest of the origin of natural pigments and their connection to culinary traditions. Within an academic setting, contemporary studio courses often focus on process, based on a modern and post-modern conception of artmaking. Although this format and line of thinking is commonly accepted, it can remove a deeper understanding of how artists today make aesthetic decisions. Historically, artists were the sole proprietors of their practice and their materials. They not only knew where each ingredient and tool came from, they may have had to construct or make their own materials.

Material sources such as pigments were available through apothecaries and had dual purposes in medicine, cooking, and art making. Artists, alchemists, scientists, and physicians shared knowledge and sometimes occupations. Today, the ready availability of mass production and standardization from large art supply companies has resulted in a loss of historical knowledge. This demonstration aims to share examples and insights of how and where artists procured their ingredients as well as how they put them into practice. We will share techniques such as egg tempera, encaustic, gilding, and how illuminated manuscripts were painted in relation to their relevance within history. Participants will be able to touch, mix, and apply materials to understand original artists’ intent within the given techniques. Historical examples and contemporary references will be provided. We will also share recipe examples, which include studio and kitchen ingredients and how they are symbiotic.

The Craftsman’s Handbook Cennino Cennini

The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting

The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy by Odile Redon and Francoise Sabban

Apicius Cookbook (ancient Roman cookbook)

A Taste of Ancient Rome


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