Ultramarine Blue Pigments and Lapis Lazuli

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Lapis Lazuli and Ultramarine Blue Pigments

One of the most valuable and fascinating art supplies and painting mediums since antiquity is naturally produced ultramarine blue pigment. The name of this blue coloring goes back to the Latin words "ultra" and "mare", what means "beyond the sea" (the Mediterranean Sea), because ultramarine was imported from the Orient to Europe in those times.

For natural production of ultramarine blue pigments people had used the gem lapis lazuli. Therefore the ultramarine paint of the "Old Masters" is genuine lapis lazuli.

Ultramarine blue pigment was made from lapis lazuli

During a procedure, that took great pains, people had to heat up the pure gem lapis lazuli and grind it with water and another harder stone.

The pulverized pulp had to be dried. Then the dry powder was molded with lots of water, wax, oil and pitch.

Finally the whole dough had been washed in warm water until the liquid became blue. Now the mix had to rest until the more heavy blue particles could deposit.

During this process the pigment ultramarine blue, a so called inorganic pigment, was created. After pouring away the water very carefully, people could filter the ultramarine blue substance and dry the just gained coloring.

Together with painting medium the blue paint particles could be used as ultramarine paint for paintings or could be mixed with other artists pigments.

Painting mediums and bonding agents should not change the impression of the deep blue pigment. Most of those reduce the dull intensity of pigments and give additional gloss to blue coloring. Today ultramarine, a sulphureous natrium aluminium silicate, is manufactured synthetically. You can buy ultramarine blue painting material as pure pigment, oil colors and acrylic paint in tubes, cans and bottles. Further synthetically made ultramarine blue tempera, watercolors, silk paint, pastel, crayons, color pencils and various other painting mediums.

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Ultramarine Blue Pigments