Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lapis Lazuli

We at Colour Studio  want to help educate our Clients about the importance of color in their projects. Color is a sometimes over looked and undervalued after thought that can bring distinction to an otherwise bland space. But despite our modern preoccupation with steel, glass and white paint,  materials rich in color have been prized for ages all over the world. Lapis Lazuli, a semi precious stone, is a great example.   When light hits the surface of the stone it actually interacts with its chemical composition at the atomic level. It rearranges its electrons  to higher energy levels by absorbing a slim portion of the lights wavelengths. All of the light not used to energize those electrons is reflected and can be seen by the eye as a rich powerful blue.

A beautiful piece of raw Lapis via Laynedesigns
Mining and trading of the stone dates back to predynastic Egypt and 3rd millennium B.C. Afghanistan. Victoria Finlay in her book Color describes the birth place of lapis.

"With the exception of a few Russian icons which may have been painted with blue from Sibera, all the real ultramarine in both Western and Eastern art came from [Afghanistan] - from one set of mines in a valley in north-east Afganistan, collectively called Sar-e-sang, the Place of the Stone. It was where the Buddha's topknots came from [and] it was where the monk painters of illuminated manuscripts found their skies."
Mesopotamian lapis lazuli pendant circa 2900 BC via Wikipedia
For a stone with poor utilitarian qualities it traveled far and wide, Egypt, Rome, Iran and China to name a few. While is can not be used for bright blue spear heads, Lapis Lazuli but can be used for jewelry and other aesthetic carvings as well as crushed in to pigments and paints, even Cleopatra's eye shadow !  Humans yearn for ornamentation, and not just for our bodies in the form of jewelry, fashion and tattoos. We ornament our spaces to better reflect and influence our lives, and color is one of our favorite ornaments. But why would we decorate ourselves and our spaces with blue exactly? What's the draw? Again from Victoria Finlay's book Color:

"It is curious the in English the word "blue" should represent depressing as well as transcendent things; that it should be the most holy hue and the color of pornography. Perhaps this is because blue recedes into the distance - artists use it to create space in their paintings...- so it represents a place that is outside normal life, beyond not only the sea but the horizon itself. Fantasy, depression and God are all, like blue, in the more mysterious reaches of our conscienceless."
 Elisabeth Taylor playing Cleopatra via Makeup Mac
- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

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