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Course & Subject Guides

Studio Arts: Materials & Process Research @ Pitt: Historically Used Materials

A library guide created to assist Studio Arts students at Pitt with materials and process research.

Medieval & Renaissance Europe

Helpful Keyword Searches:  
  • Medieval AND art materials 
  • Middle Ages AND art materials 
  • Middle Ages AND paint techniques 
  • Medieval AND art guilds
  • Medieval AND decorative arts
Search Tips
  • Search for specific materials, like bronze, glass, or lapis lazuli 
  • Search for specific guilds or works of art 
  • Search for specific artists who used a material that you're interested in 


Finding Articles

Through our library system, students and faculty have access to many Art and Architecture Databases. The following databases would be the most helpful when doing research on historical materials and processes. 

The Ancient World


Searching WorldCat

If there is a book or other resource that our library system does not own, and if that book is unavailable through EZBorrow, WorldCat is a great option for searching libraries worldwide, who you can request the book from, have it sent to Pitt, and borrow it for a short amount of time. 

One great way to search WorldCat for resources would be to compare subject headings by searching the same subject headings contained within our catalog that you used previously to search for materials in our library.

Visual Research with Artstor

One technique for historical materials research is to expose yourself to the way materials were used by artists and artisans in the past. A great place to start is the Artstor database. 


I'm just starting my research and want to see how lace was used in different ways throughout the Early Modern period before deciding on my research question.  

  • Navigate to Artstor by going to and searching for "Artstor" under the "Databases" tab, or click the link on the bottom of this section
  • If you do not already have an account, getting one is fast and free with your Pitt email address. Simply click the Artstor Digital Library link and register in the upper right hand corner
  • One the left of the Artstor homepage you will see and click the Advanced Search link
  • In one of the keyword search boxes, type in the keyword "lace"
  • In the date range boxes, put 1400 in the first box, and 1700 in the second box.
  • Carry out your search. 

Each image will have extra information regarding the object when you double click an image and click the small "i" button.