Thursday, October 16, 2008

Burnt Sugar Dye

While cleaning the studio, I came upon an issue of Somerset Studio with an article on antiquing paper. That provided the perfect excuse to take a break, so I sat down with the magazine and a cup of tea. The article by Lea Everse had a recipe for Burnt Sugar Dye. I couldn't pass up an opportunity to procrastinate so I made the dye.

Burnt Sugar Dye

1 cup granulated white sugar

a pinch of salt

enough water to dissolve the sugar.

In a heavy sauce pan, place the sugar, salt, and enough water to dissolve the sugar. I had no idea how much "enough" was so I used 1/2 cup of water. Cook over medium heat until the sugar burns and turns a dark brown. You can judge doneness by the reek of carbon in your kitchen.

Pour the burnt syrup into a foil lined baking sheet and cool thoroughly. I used a foil pie plate. When cool, break into pieces and store in an airtight container.

Sounded simple enough. And it was. What is not mentioned is humidity effects the end result. If the weather is humid as it was yesterday and today, the mixture remains tacky. I've moved the pie plate from the kitchen to sit on top of the dehumidifier to see if that will help to dry it out.

To use, place a lump of burnt sugar in a small container,dish, or whatever you use to mix small amounts of paint. Add a few drops of water until you get the desired shade of brown. Paint onto your paper. The author also suggests you spatter drops to get interesting gradations of color. If applied too thickly the paper will be sticky and can be sprayed with a fixative.

I haven't gotten to the usage part yet. So here is my burnt sugar sitting on top of my immaculate drafting table.


  1. Well heck, burning makes art? I should have known that years ago the way I cook!

  2. By the reek of carbon? Nutter's right...I've been an artist for years and had no idea. LOL