Thursday, May 23, 2019

Today's Red Ochre adventure: from bucket to board, an experiment!

We've been doing some research here on the traditional use of red ochre (you can read our preliminary research right here) and how people used to mix it with some type of oil (linseed, seal, or cod liver) as a paint for outbuildings in Newfoundland and Labrador.

A while ago, Heather Fifield, the Coordinator of Laboratories and Services at the Department of Biochemistry at Memorial University, emailed me about some seal oil that Dr. Fereidoon Shahidi's lab no longer needed. So today, I picked up a bucket of the stuff and carefully transported it back to our office.

As an experiment Michael Philpott in our office treated one side of a piece of wood with the pure oil, and then we mixed the oil with some powdered red ochre I had been given by Pete Porter of Change Islands. Michael coated the other side of the board with the red ochre/seal oil mix, and now we'll see how long it takes to dry. Even just a small amount of oil and ochre gave us a beautiful first coat stain, and we're looking forward to seeing how it looks after another coat.

We've been floating around the idea of doing a bigger project, mixing up a larger amount of red ochre paint and testing its effectiveness on an outdoor project like a stage or store. Stay tuned!

If you've got a memory of red ochre (or have some in your shed) send me an email at

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