Fun Color Facts!

We have covered the origins of several colors before here at Colour Studio but this week we wanted to share a funny and frank infographic that turned up on Reddit. Made by a paint lover, it shows and describes a few of the lesser thought about aspects of turning  raw materials into  colors before the Industrial Revolution. While we don’t know when malachite was first being used as a mineral dye we do know,  like most on this list, fell out of use in the 1800’s.

Malachite is green for the same reason the Statue of Liberty is green: oxidizing copper. The malachite forms as water runs off copper ore  in underground deposits and the sediment creates stalactites and stalagmites. These beautiful stones, which were often used for jewelry and royal crowns, were crushed to make vibrant green dyes and paints.

But wait,  green is not  the only color copper’s got up its sleeve.   Next on the list is azurite. This weathering copper is actually one stage earlier in the copper mineralization time line. Like malachite, azurite is deposited by water, and it too forms those distinctive layering patterns in geode shapes.  Azurite is unstable when exposed to air and itself weathers into malachite.

The origins of black are admittedly banal. It’s made from burnt … anything really. “If it burns you can likely make black pigment out of it,” wood, cloth, even animal bones. But purple is surprising. Purple was made from predatory sea snails that only live in tropical waters. While the graphic does say the dye is produced from grinding the shells other sources point instead to the snails secretions. But either way it’s certainly unique. 

The graphic is fun and eye opening and a must read for all of our fellow color lovers !

– Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
– Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque

The Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran hit the front page of Reddit this week all thanks to its fantastic use of color. The traditional Shia mosque was built  from 1876 to 1888 and thrives as an active place of worship as well as a protected historical site to this day. 

Islam has a tradition of aniconism, the prohibition of depictions of  sentient living beings because it is considered a from of idolatry. These liturgical prescriptions have led to Islamic art and architecture focused on the abstract, with color and texture both playing large roles in the visual vocabulary. 

Geometrical patterns became the popular motif in Islamic art and were and still are considered visual contemplation of the complexity of the universe around us. The circle sits at the center of all Islamic patterns and from there it breaks out in to more and more complex puzzles of geometry with triangles, squares and hexagons all with intricate color of their own. Thus the interior of the Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque is a riot of color, an abstract visual cornucopia of specific cultural nuances with deep ties to Islam.

While the mosque is built with some wood, the majority of the amazing colors and textures are wrought in ceramic tile and colored glass which at the time of construction were in common use.  Persian rugs in the image below  not only contribute to making the tile floors more comfortable for kneeling upon but  also add colors and patterns all their own. The continuous shine of the teal floor glistens in the sun light while the rugs add  beauty and practicality to the space. Interestingly the rugs and the architecture conform  to a traditional pattern and proportion  allowing for a the  alignment of carpets and runners to fit precisely between the columns.   

The beauty and resonance of each of the design elements are all focused on creating a reverent atmosphere inside the mosque. Its so nice to see  color play a role unifying beauty and blessing throughout the world.

– Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
– Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio