D is for Dragon’s Blood: A-to-Z Challenge

Ljubljana_dragonDragon’s Blood is a pigment that was widely used in furniture finishes before and in the early 19th century.  Synthetic dyes and a shift to different preferences in wood species moved makers away from this very popular finish, and of course, the dying off of dragons, the source of the dye . . .

Okay, just kidding.

Socotra_dragon_treeDragon’s blood comes from the crimson red resin produced by several trees in the Dracaena family, a genus of trees and succulent shrubs.  The favorite source was from Dracaena cinnabari, a dragon tree native to the Socotra Archipelago (four islands) in the Indian Ocean.  This resin produced a pigment also used in fabric dyes, lipsticks, and medicinally.

800px-Dragon's_blood_(Daemomorops_draco)As a varnish, it fades considerably, and this can be seen below (clockwise) in a game table from the McLoughlin House, in a decorative part of an Irish linen press, in an American Pembroke table, and in a very faded Hepplewhite chair.  Sometimes it is hard to know that a piece was dyed using dragon’s blood until we open the doors or pull apart a piece and see the original color.

It is still used today, most widely by makers of violins, and, of course, by conservationists!

 ©MPF Conservation.  May be printed for your own use ONLY,
not for use on blogs without permission.
Image of the tree, resin, and of the Ljubljana Dragon is from Wikipedia!

About dkatiepowellart

hollywood baby turned beach gurl turned steel&glass city gurl turned cowgurl turned herb gurl turned green city gurl. . . artist writer photographer. . . cat lover but misses our big dogs, gone to heaven. . . buddhist and interested in the study of spiritual traditions. . . foodie, organic, lover of all things mik, partner in conservation business mpfconservation, consummate blogger, making a dream happen, insomniac who is either reading buddhist teachings or not-so-bloody mysteries or autobio journal thangs early in the morning when i can't sleep
This entry was posted in antiques, pigments, restoration techniques, shellac, traditional varnishes and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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