Creating color is a delicate, time consuming process. The synthetic colors we know from our everyday products come from chemical factories, but up until the nineteenth century producing colors was a laborious process. The master painters of the renaissance would have a team of apprentices to grind pigments using an entire recipe book, gathering the natural and sometimes expensive hard to find ingredients to produce the colors. But that was a long time ago. Nowadays we have lost touch with the origins of color but product designer and textile specialist Laura Daza has taken the challenge of reinvigorating the skills of color creation.
People experiment with making their own colors more often, but usually they’ll stick to one color, one ingredient to experience what it’s like to make color. Daza on the other hand is creating an entire pallet of colors by experimenting with different ingredients. Her tested recipes from before mass production will be published so anybody can recreate them. In this way Daza preserves the craft of creating color for good.
Laura Daza has been places. She is passionate about textiles and constantly searching for new things to learn. Daza is from Colombia where she used to teach. She moved to New York to learn more about the fashion industry and moved to London to specialize at Central Saint Martins College of Design where she’s learning to create her own colors.
Daza feels like she’s going back in time, not using elaborate machinery to remain true to original processes. Cleaning the ingredients, grinding, filtering. A lot of grinding actually. And it’s painful to endlessly grind by hand. Daza has worked with minerals such as Lapis Lazuli (which is very hard) for blue or egg shells (not as hard) and bones to create whites . Daza did a lot of research in early Egyptian color production. They would have even used urine or mummies, the latter also having been an ingredient for the colors of Renaissance painters. But that’s going a bit too far for Daza. So she sticks to ‘cleaner’ ingredients like rusted lead to create whites or copper to get a turquoise green.
With all this work, she gives back the meaning of color, it once being an important craft. You can learn to make your own colors by recycling the egg shells, egg yoke or chicken bones you normally throw out when cooking. Or ask your butcher for his leftover bones. In her book, due to be published this summer, Daza will share ten of her color recipes. Keep an eye on Color Objects as we’ll be sharing some of her, now still secret, recipes.