Laura is a passionate designer and, believe it or not, a color maker. She investigates pigments and the provenance of colors: where they began, what natural (and strange!) places that pigments have come. Colors tend to evoke moods and emotions, but it’s easy to remove ourselves and forget to ask where different shades come from on this earth. There was a time when the story of where the color came from was integral to the use of it. Laura is a bit of a color hunter looking to find colors lost in history and bring them back, using ancient alchemist techniques and creating a little magic along the way. In her current work, Laura looks into the story of 8 colors: Whiteshell, Saffron, Ochre, Verdigris, Malachite, Azurite, Mummy Brown, and Lamp Black. She’s worked with bones, eggs, minerals, shells, and even…. mummies.
I had the pleasure of a short interview with Laura, where she tells me a little more about how she got started and how she works with the origins of colors.
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What first sparked your interest in colors and pigments?
This project started with the curiosity of understanding how colour works and its provenance. I’ve always worked around colour: natural dyes and synthetic ones. I believe people take colours from granted without knowing the science behind it, the story and origin. While researching, I just fell in love with the Egyptian colour palette, which are considered to be masters in alchemy and colour making. Many of the colours we use today were first invented by them; they introduced green and blues to the colour palette.
I love that you are bringing back what could be lost in time. From the history you’ve researched, what has spoken to you the most?
While studying Egyptian history and historical pigments I found an incredible and scary story behind one of these pigments. Mummy brown, Egyptian mummy or caput mortuum, which means dead head in latin, was a pigment favoured by Pre-Raphaelite painters. Literally it derives from its source; Egyptian mummies, both human and animal, which were ground up and mixed with myrrh and pitch.
Your travel a lot as part of your work. How does it benefit your process?
For me, traveling and sourcing materials is fascinating as been part of my design process and research, this helps built the narrative and story of my projects.Getting to a new and unknown place is a great way to get new inspiration and connecting with the environment physically and mentally.
Laura will be publishing a book soon on DIY Color Recipes, follow along to see when it’s released!