Tiny Mining

Day Two – diary

filed under: Lead written by: Martin
Context: >

I’m waiting in the studio with the window open for the test-tube in the water bath to cool down. The tube contains a copper strip immersed in 10ml urine and 2ml concentrated, fuming HCI, hydrochloric acid. This forms part of the quite simple Reinsch test for heavy metals such as arsenic and antimony. This is not my metal, which is lead.

With the window open I can hear the crows outside in the trees. As I was setting up the water heater or hotplate near the window I was struck by the flat grey of the early evening sky. I went outside to photograph it and observe the crows grouped in the tree. The old street lights alongside the river path slowly glowed brighter and hotter, switching on, as I was about to record the crows. This reminded me of the glowing blue flame of the piss dream the night before last. So a sensitivity to the flame, to a switching on and glowing.


As I set up the silver nitrate experiment next to the nightshade and datura plants on the windowsill a crow was watching from the railing by the riverside. Black and grey front matched the silver grey of the silver nitrate solution which the paper was dipped in to. I scanned the two silver nitrate papers from the previous day and night. Contrary to what I imagined the dark impressions, shapes influenced by the new moon came from the top of the paper. Not from beneath.

I scanned these.Within traditions of metallurgy, mining and alchemy lead is associated with darkness, darkening and the first phase within the work – as the prima materia, the scorned or overlooked dross or mud from which the gold will emerge as from a mire or a swamp. Silver and gold were traditionally separated from lead ores by a high heat process called cupellation – the precious metals do not oxiside or undergo a reaction – like the leaden lead which would form a slag. This is the process which apparently the first key of Basil Valentine describes – the image of the king and queen with Saturn:

“Take the ravenous grey wolf that on account of his name is subjected to bellicose Mars, but by birth is a child of Saturn, and that lives in the valleys and mountains of the world and is possessed of great hunger. Throw the kings’s body before him that he may have his nourishment from it. And when he has devoured the king, then make a great fire and throw the wolf into it so that he burns up entirely; thus will the king be redeemed. If this is done thrice, then the lion has conquered the wolf, and nothing more to eat will be found in him; thus is our body completed at the start of our work.”

These have been interpreted by historian of science Lawrence Principe in relation to Stibnite/antimony here:


Twelve Keys – Clavis I

And from Michael Maier’s Atalanta Fugiens (emblem XXIV) another grey wolf to look further into but maybe this is also antimony, they seem to share something grey and wolf-like:


Illumination, glow. This matter is everywhere – the cubes in Michael Maier’s engraving in the air, on land and in the waters.

I made the second sensafe strip test which looks very close to yesterday’s:

The second voltammetric test was made with today’s urine sample (I took 3 samples in the morning: one frozen for posterity, the other for this test and the third for the Reinsch test).

The second test today shows no expected or unexpected peak for lead:

I’m not sure if this is disappointing. The negative result. Drinking grape juice all day today and the same diet tonight of fresh oysters, tuna sashimi perhaps with cabbage/kale.

The Reinsch test strip of colour is cooling. I’m not sure if this was boiled long enough as I was worried about fumes and passersby outside the window.

The first evening meeting (sadly Dennis couldn’t make it). Theun will maybe [lead/lead dual meaning] us through some exercises in the final days relating to the focus on internal organs. On trying to find out the correspondence between Jupiter and a metal (tin it is) I see that organs are also associated with metals:

Sun Heart
Moon Brain
Mercury Lungs
Venus Kidneys
Mars Gall bladder
Jupiter Liver
Saturn Spleen