Postcards to the Past: Local color

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A palette of natural colors. Clockwise, from left: Charcoal lump and powder (in shell); two hues of yellow ochre; red ochre powder in shell, and on ferruginous sandstone; between is a small stone container of water-based red ochre paint, with brush; manganese nodule. From left to right, paint streaks are charcoal, manganese, red ochre, pale yellow ochre, dark yellow ochre.


Ferruginous sandstone can be used as pigment and as an abrasive surface.


Ferruginous concretions known as "Indian paint pots" often contain naturally occurring pigment.


Digging sticks, rabbit sticks, and adze handle showing a variety of decorative color treatments.


Pileated woodpecker effigy vial stopper. Painted with natural pigments using hide glue binder.


Rawhide sheath for stone knife. Though somewhat faded, the lizard design incorporates dots and punctations.


Variations of this easy-to-make primitive airbrush are frequently seen at primitive skills events. It consists of two short lengths of cane or hollow reed, and a small gourd, ceramic, or cane container. Water-based pigment slurry should be thin enough to be vaporized by blowing across vertical reed with the mouthpiece.


Using the airbrush


Negative hand print image produced with the airbrush

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