The ochre was open pit mined and then washed through this flume to let the sand settle out. The muddy water was then drained out through these holes into sludge pools where it was left to evaporate over the summer.
As well as paint I am interested in dyes and was happy to see these oak galls for sale. They are a traditional source of tannin – used for tanning leather but also in dyeing for their reaction with the irons found in ochres. They are made by small worms living on oak trees.
And this funny picture shows the thing that excited me the most. Found not at Roussillon but in the village of Mazan museum. It is an old fork used for digging up madder root. Before imports of the insect cochineal from the New World and the later invention of chemical dyes madder root was Europe’s main source of red. This fork was so heavy I could hardly lift it. My charming tour guide said that two men were needed to operate it and the guy who had to use his left hand got paid more.
See full post here: Jean Bradbury2013-07-16.