Monday, December 30, 2019

Azurite Blue / Colour of the month #12

Azurite has been used as blue pigment for centuries; extensively used in Egypt, East Europe and China. It is a soft, deep blue copper mineral produced by breaking down copper ore deposits.

Photo: Azurite stone. Studio Laura Daza

The colour is due to the presence of copper, which is a colouring agent and the way the copper chemically combines with the carbonate groups. Depending on how fine the particles of azurite are ground, it gives a range of blues, known as Armenian stone or Mountain blue.

Photo: Azurite stone. Studio Laura Daza

Azurite has been considered a potent psychic stone by several civilisations; the ancient Chinese who believed it to open celestial paths called it the Stone of Heaven, Greeks and Romans preferred it for its visionary insights and healing powers and for the Mayans, azurite was mystical and facilitated the transfer of wisdom.

Photo: Giotto, 'Madonna and child' painting using azurite blue

Azurite is being recognised as a major source of blue used in Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages. It was the most widely used blue pigment by medieval painters, mixed with egg yolk for making egg tempera and applied onto different painting surfaces. Widely used by Giotto, an Italian painter and artist from Florence during the later Middle Ages. In the image above there is evidence of the use of azurite in his masterpiece.

Photo: Illuminated manuscript using azurite blue

This pigment is extremely important in the history of manuscript painting, for centuries filling the pages of many medieval Illuminated ManuscriptsHungary was one of the primary sources of azurite in Europe; the mineral came from the copper mines of northern Hungary, from places such as Rudabánya. Azurite blue was less expensive than Lapis lazuli so it was a good alternative for use.

Photo: Kkgas for Studio Laura Daza

For artists, skill was necessary to manipulate the pigment and apply several layers of azurite to produce a solid blue in masterpieces.

Photo: Kkgas, Studio Laura Daza. Work developed during the Colour Alchimia workshops

Azurite is made up of astonishing deep blue bits that make up the mineral. Grinding the mineral was much easier and faster than any other mineral due to its softness, although the process of levigation or purification can be slow. 

Photo: Studio Laura Daza

For sourcing this mineral, I travelled to Istanbul in Turkey and found traditional shops that source and sell minerals worldwide.

Photo: Studio Laura Daza

Photo: Studio Laura Daza

Want to learn more about this colour pigment and experiment with it in a sensorial way?

We are offering the first workshop of 2020, February 8th in Barcelona. Learn tips, secrets and recipes for transforming natural materials into the beauty of colour pigments. 

For more information or email