Future of Hologram technology
As technology continues to progress, we are given the opportunity to explore new and more exotic types of programming, software, hardware, and systems. One innovation that is growing at a rapid pace is hologram technology.
Holography is a photographic technique that records the light scattered from an object, and then presents it as three-dimensional.
Holograms of varying forms have appeared over the years, including transmission holograms, which allow light to be shined through them and the image to be viewed from the side, and rainbow holograms, like those used on credit cards and driver's licenses for increased security.
The development of hologram technology began in 1962, when Yuri Denisyuk, of the Soviet Union, and Emmett Leith and Juris Upatnieks, at the University of Michigan, developed innovative laser programs that recorded objects in 3D. They recorded on silver halide photographic emulsions at the time, but the clarity of the objects was far from perfect. New methods have improved holograms over time.
Holograms are as close as your wallet. Most driver's licenses include holograms, as well as ID cards and credit cards. Holograms can even be found throughout our houses. Holograms come as part of CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, and software packaging, as well as nearly everything sold as "official merchandise".
But, these security holograms - which discourage forgery - aren't impressive. They simply change shape and color when tilted.
However, large-scale holograms, the kind illuminated with lasers or created in a dark room with carefully placed lighting, are phenomenal. They're basically two-dimensional surfaces that show very accurate three-dimensional images of real objects. You don't even have to wear special glasses like when you go to a 3D movie.
Holograms have surprising features. For example, each half contains whole views of the entire holographic image. The same is true if you cut out a small piece. Even a small fragment will still house the entire picture.
Understanding the principles behind holograms, helps you understand that the hologram, your brain, and light waves work together to make clear, 3D pictures.
How to make hologram lables
To make a hologram, you record an object (or person) in a clean environment with a laser beam and apply the information to a recording medium that will clean up and clarify the image.
The laser beam is split in two and redirected with mirrors. One of the beams is directed at the object. A portion of the light reflects off the object and is recorded on the medium.
The second beam (reference beam), is directed toward the recording medium. This means the beams coordinate to make a precise image in the hologram location.
These two laser beams interfere and intersect with each other. The interference pattern is imprinted on the recording medium to recreate the 3D image.
Introduction of 3D holograms
3D holograms are coming into our lives. A 3D hologram is an object that isn't actually "there," but looks like it is, either floating in mid-air or standing on a nearby surface. This "augmented reality" ( AR ) is a revolution well on its way.
Microsoft ( MSFT ) has its HoloLens headset, Apple ( AAPL ) uses ARKit, and Google ( GOOGL ) presents holograms in ARCore. The tech is saturating the tech market, and IT mega-corporations are racing to dominate the AR market.
3D hologram displays are the next step in more human-compatible digital content. The applications for the new technology are limitless.
A hologram projected in a room could show a 3D concept car like it was really there, and 3D presentations for meetings and conferences will wow audiences. And how about holographic telepresence? Yes, a hologram of you projected to a meeting room thousands of miles away!
Holograms have the potential to dramatically improve training, design, and visualization in many business settings and production facilities. Being able to "look at, zoom in on and manipulate 3D versions of in-progress designs radically enhances the design process."
Even marketing departments can thrill customers with holograms through experiential marketing campaigns and 3D hologram interactions.
One product currently in development is called DeepFrame. This holographic tech enables science fiction-like applications, like 3D telepresence. The cost is prohibitive at $50,000, but as the use for experiential marketing and telepresence grows, competition will grow and costs will decrease.
There are also developers like Looking Glass Factory that are working on a display product called HoloPlayer that's currently available for $750 (PC dependent) or a $3,000 version (built-in PC).
A HoloPlayer displays 3D holograms on a sheet of glass, so you don't need special eyewear to view them. As Mike Elgan notes , the device creates "…3D hologram objects that can be manipulated using in-air gestures. When you look straight on, you see the front of the image. Tilt your head to the side, and you see the side of the image. These can be manipulated with natural hand gestures - reaching out, pretending to grab and turning will rotate the 3D objects. In-the-air swiping gestures also work as expected, taking you to the next image in a series."
Holographic imagery is also coming soon to windshields everywhere. A current example, demonstrated at CES by a company called WayRay, is Navion.
This dashboard-mounted projector produces an overlay of navigation data and turn-by-turn directions on the road itself. Navion also identifies hazards, such as pedestrians, and highlights them on the windshield. Navion can be controlled with in-the-air hand gestures or voice commands.
What most technophiles are waiting for is 3D hologram displays for smartphones that project the hologram on or above the surface of the display. Samsung and LG have been developing this technology for several years, but they feel that 3D hologram support for smartphones is still decades away.
Holograms in the Future
The general public is fascinated by holograms. However, holograms are major business. It is suggested that by 2020 the market for genuine, display holograms will be worth $5.5 billion . Here are some of the incredible ways holograms are currently used.
Military Mapping by holograms
Geographic intelligence is critical to military strategy. Fully dimensional holographic images are being used for improved reconnaissance. These 3D holographic maps of "battle-spaces" allow soldiers to view three-dimensional terrain, look "around" corners, and train for missions.
The company takes computerized image data and turns it into a holographic sheet. "Not only can users 'look into' the high-quality 3D image of the terrain stored in the hologram sheet, but the technology is simple to use and can be rolled up for easy storage and transportation." The maps are also useful in disaster evacuation and military rescue scenarios.
Information Storage with hologram technology
Society generates incalculable amounts of data every day. Digital storage capacity increases every year. Our personal computers store hundreds of gigabytes of information, including family photos, videos and documents. Now think about a storage disc being corrupted. The losses are unimaginable.
Though holograms create fascinating imagery, they don't just have to record and present a visual object. Holograms are capable of recording pure data - mountains of it. Holograms have the potential to store absurd amounts of information. The current prototype systems store 4.4m individual pages of information on a DVD like disc. They also offer a unique form of long-term security.
"If you make an optical hologram of a page of information and then smash it, for example, you can reconstruct it from any of the pieces. This makes holographic data storage extremely reliable. Unlike CDs and DVDs, which store their data on the disc's surface, holograms store data in three dimensions and those pages can overlap in the storage space."
Holography usage in Medical science
Holography is on its way to revolutionizing medicine. It can be a tool for visualizing patient data in training students and surgeons.
Current systems like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and ultrasound scans generate complex data using advanced imaging technology. This technology has the capability to produce full color, computer-generated 3D holograms.
Using these 3D images for training and display, holograms require no viewing devices or glasses. Students and doctors can simply "look", unhindered, at the three-dimensional images. These images can include the incredibly complex organs and systems of the body, like the brain, heart, liver, lungs, nerves, and muscles.
Fraud and Security by using hologram
Because Holograms are complex and hard to make, this makes them an incredible advantage in commercial security.
If you have a credit card, you have a hologram. "That small silver rectangle of a dove on your credit card is a white-light, mirror-backed, transmission hologram. It displays a three-dimensional image which is visible as you move from side to side, and changes color as you tilt your card up and down." These holograms are incredibly difficult to forge.
Bank notes are also starting to incorporate secure holograms. In the UK, the newest £5 bank note has an image of Big Ben and uses holography to produce a set of changing colors as you tilt the note. There is also a 3D image of the coronation crown "floating" above the note when tilted.
Art and holography
Artists began experimenting with holography the moment it became a practical process. There are artists around the globe using the three-dimensional of holograms to bend and cut space, combine collections of still images or video to produce animated 3D works, and to sculpt pure light.
Most recently, an exhibition in central London presented a show of creative holography. International groups of selected artists contributed work to an exhibition on Governors Island, New York, and artists from Canada, Italy, the US and UK were chosen for an exhibition using holography and the media arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico this summer.
Holograms used to be the stuff of science fiction that was "coming to a theater near you". However, the practical uses of holographic technology have eclipsed the film industry and become a commonplace feature in our everyday lives.
We are only seeing the beginning of the usefulness of holograms and as the innovators and developers continue to improve the technology, holograms will become an even larger part of society.
The future of 3D holograms
Smartphone-based augmented reality (AR) and the AR headset explosion will bring 3D holograms into our lives everywhere. Meanwhile, though, the real AR hologram revolution is being ignored.
A hologram is a 3D virtual object that isn’t actually “there,” but looks as if it were, either floating in the air or standing on a nearby desk or table.
The “holo” in Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is a reference to holograms. And when we think of these future AR holograms, we think of headsets, goggles such as HoloLens or smartphones running applications created with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore.
The technology is increasingly becoming ubiquitous, and companies are racing to win market domination. A competitor to the HoloLens, the “Lightware” headset from secretive Magic Leap, has been in the news lately, after six years of development at a cost of $2 billion, for two reasons.
The first is that the company unveiled the “Creator Edition” of the headset in December. Now we know what it looks like: something right off the cover of a vintage sci-fi novel.
The second reason is rampant speculation that Apple might buy Magic Leap to accelerate its own AR goggle development, speculation driven by Apple analyst Gene Munster.
In other hologram headset headlines, Dell this week announced that it will start selling, on Feb. 15, the $1,495 Meta 2 developer kits, which include the Meta 2 AR headset, for business deployments. The company said the Meta 2 is supported by several business-class Dell Precision Workstation PCs.
The AR smartphone app experience is emerging now — and the AR headset world is getting closer every day.
So that’s the story on phones and goggles, but what about that “real AR hologram revolution” I mentioned earlier? I will get to that, in the second half of this column. But first, let’s address a basic question.
What are holograms good for
Think of hologram displays as the next step in making digital content more human-compatible.
Humans see the world in 3D. Our computer and phone screens show us a 2D version of the world. It’s artificial.
If I look at a concept car design on my laptop, people on the other side of the room see only the back of my laptop lid. That’s artificial, too.
A hologram projected in the middle of the room could show a 3D concept car for all to see, as if it were a physical object actually there.
The biggest applications for holograms are for enterprises, such as what I described above — 3D presentations for conference rooms and meetings.
And while we’re deploying holograms in the conference room, we might as well beam live remote meeting participants into the meeting — holographic telepresence.
Holograms will also dramatically improve training, design and visualization in enterprises. The ability to look at, zoom in on and manipulate 3D versions of in-progress designs radically enhances the design process.
And, of course, in the marketing department, holograms will thrill customers with experiential marketing campaigns and customer experience interactions.
We’re already seeing applications for all these emerging for smartphone, tablet and headset AR. But the real benefits come when holograms are liberated from such devices.
Holograms without phones or headsets
While dozens or hundreds of major hologram research projects are currently being developed in corporate and university labs around the world, the first examples of this new category are already shipping — or are available to corporate developers.
A company called Realfiction makes an AR product called DeepFrame. The product is basically a 64-inch glass window that you look through to see the real world plus 3D holograms and AR images and text. These objects can be projected to appear a few feet away and a few feet across or miles away and miles across — for example, across an entire city.
DeepFrame holograms can appear to be miles wide, such as this life-size recreation of a rocket launch.
DeepFrame enables all kinds of science fiction-like applications, such as 3D telepresence (making it appear almost as if people are in a meeting, when they’re in fact on the other side of the world).
DeepFrame is currently sold to enterprises but could eventually be used for retail experiential marketing purposes. (DeepFrame costs approximately $50,000.)
Another approach to AR hologram creation is already shipping from HP. That company now sells a special 23.6-inch display product called the HP Zvr. The $4,000 device was made in a partnership with a company called zSpace.
The HP Zvr replaces a standard monitor and adds the ability to cast 3D holograms over the screen.
The Zvr doesn’t require a headset, but it does require lightweight glasses.
The screen works via sensors on the display that track the location of the glasses and therefore your eyes, which enables you to look at multiple sides of 3D objects by leaning to one side or the other.
A special stylus has a virtual laser coming out of the end, and it enables you to grab and manipulate the floating holograms.
Meanwhile, a startup called Looking Glass Factory is working on a display product called HoloPlayer that’s currently available for pre-order as a $750 developer’s edition that has to be plugged into a PC or a $3,000 version, also for developers, that has a PC built-in.
The HoloPlayer shows 3D holograms on the other side of a sheet of glass, and you don’t need glasses to see them.
The HoloPlayer device creates 3D hologram objects that can be manipulated using in-air gestures.
When you look straight on, you see the front of the image. Tilt your head to the side, and you see the side of the image.
These can be manipulated with natural hand gestures — reaching out, pretending to grab and turning will rotate the 3D objects. In-the-air swiping gestures also work as expected, taking you to the next image in a series.
The current version of the HoloPlayer sacrifices resolution for the 3D depth illusion. The light is projected onto 32 different depth planes, which results in a resolution of only 267 x 480.
Holographic imagery is also headed to a windshield near you. The most recent example was demonstrated at CES by a company called WayRay. Its product, called Navion, is a dashboard-mounted projector that creates the illusion of laying navigation data and turn-by-turn directions on the road itself. The company also rolled out an SDK for developers and announced that a Chinese car company would build the technology into its vehicles. WayRay is also working with Honda to develop future concepts for windshield 3D hologram products.
Beyond navigation, the Navion system identifies hazards on the fly, such as pedestrians crossing the road, and highlights them on the windshield. Navion can be controlled with in-the-air hand gestures or voice commands.
A different kind of smartphone hologram
Currently, you can get the illusion of a 3D hologram by using any number of smartphone apps created with Apple’s ARKit or Google’s ARCore.
These don’t create 3D holograms — they create a video of a hologram. They combine real-time video feeds with digital objects. The app shows you what the camera sees, then superimposes digital images on top of that real-time video feed. The hologram appears to be a few feet in front of you when you’re looking at the screen.
Researchers are working on the creation of 3D hologram displays for smartphones that project the hologram on or above the surface of the display. Future technology will be able to project 3D holograms into the air above or even around a smartphone display.
Korean display giants Samsung and LG have reportedly been working on this for years. A professor at Chungbuk National University named Kim Nam told The Korea Herald that 3D hologram smartphones are 10 to 20 years away.
The kind of smartphone hologram technology that enables floating-in-the-air 3D holograms is in our far future. But in-the-screen holograms are coming soon, according to one company.
The popular HD video camera maker RED is working on a $1,195 smartphone called the Hydrogen One that it says sports a holographic display. The screen is being developed with a startup called Leia (named after Princess Leia from Star Wars, who introduced fans to the holographic display idea in the opening scene of the original 1977 movie). Leia is a spinoff from HP Labs.
The difference between future hologram phones and the RED Hydrogen One phone is that, while the 3D effect on the RED happens when you move the phone around, nothing is projected in the air. It all stays on the screen.
Holograms will prove immeasurably useful and powerful for enterprise applications. And this power will be fully realized with technologies more advanced than today’s smartphone apps and tomorrow’s AR headsets.
The job today is to start exploring the solutions now coming online. Several of these offer low-cost development kits, which are ideal for kicking the virtual 3D hologram tires of this emerging new interface.
Holograms have been a part of our imagination since the dawn of science fiction. But fiction is now starting to cross over into reality.
world's thinnest hologram
A team of scientists from RMIT University and the Beijing Institute of Technology have designed the 'world's thinnest' hologram. It is said the hologram is capable of being integrated into everyday products such as smartphones.
The work was led by RMIT's Min Gu led the project and claims the holographic technology can be seen without 3D goggles and is 1,000 times thinner than human hair. The academics dubbed the technology a 'nano hologram'.
At present, the constraints that hold back holographic technology lie in the limits of optical thickness. Regular holograms modulate light to project the illusion of a three-dimensional shape. But this needs to be within the parameters of the optimal thickness limit – computer-generated holograms are too large to fit atop smartphones and therefore have limited practical application.
Now, Min and the team behind the work has developed a 25 nanometer hologram using topological insulator material. It has a lower refractive index on the surface layer, but an ultrahigh refractive index in bulk. This thin insular film can enhance the holographic image without sacrificing its compact design.
Min says that the nano hologram is "fabricated using a simple and fast direct laser writing system, which makes our design suitable for large-scale uses and mass manufacture."
Theoretically, the technology may be able to fit inside smartphones and other devices but there is still work to be done. The next step is to shrink this technology even further, so that it can become suitable for integration upon LCD and smartphone screens, effectively producing a holographic device in your pocket.
The possibilities for portable holograms are appealing for a wide range of industries, Min says. "Integrating holography into everyday electronics would make screen size irrelevant – a pop-up 3D hologram can display a wealth of data that doesn’t neatly fit on a phone or watch.
"From medical diagnostics to education, data storage, defence and cyber security, 3D holography has the potential to transform a range of industries and this research brings that revolution one critical step closer.
When it comes to spiritual enlightenment, it all starts with the self. The Lapis Lazuli crystal helps us go deep within our spirits to awaken our true destiny and divine purpose. That's a big job for a sedentary object, but you'd be amazed at how this dazzling stone shines a light on the soul and its innate ability to heal. The color of water, the life-giving element of the planet, the ultramarine blue crystal meaning represents the many shades of sapphire blue, the color of self-expression and awareness. Considered a sacred color during the Renaissance, Lapis Lazuli was ground into powder and mixed into paint that was used to for the Virgin Mary's robes and other historic cathedrals.
Thanks to deposits of sulfur contained in its matrix, the Lapis Lazuli crystal stands out in the world of gemstones with its deep sapphire blue color. It also contains prosperity and abundance qualities with its unique variations of gold and white specks from Calcite and Pyrite deposits, the good luck stones. Associated with the third eye chakra, the ultramarin blue meaning can be traced back to ancient Egypt where royalty believed in its power to stimulate openness to the spirit world and infinite possibilities of the imagination. Fashion icon and Egyptian beauty Cleopatra used the crushed powder of Lapis Lazuli in her cosmetics to create the signature eye makeup design that symbolizes an Egyptian pharaoh.
Ultramarin blue Meaning
Also used to decorate tombs of King Tot and other famous pharaohs, the ultramarine blue crystal stone meaning helps bridge the gap between the physical world and the spiritual realm that exists beyond the horizon in a merging of the past and present. Take this stone out for a spin on your spiritual journey and get ready to go deep within, the sacred place in your soul where you hide your deepest desires. Take it even further by meditating with the crystal and expanding your mind to a world where anything is possible, including conversing with ancestors from past lives.
If you find yourself drawn to the Lapis Lazuli stone, it could be a sign that you’re ready to open the doors to the magic and wonder of the universe. Meditate with ultramarine blue crystal, a water element stone, and discover the honesty of your spirit, both in the spoken and written word. To set the mood for deep introspection and shamanistic journeying, prepare your space with a cleansing and purification ritual. Borrowing from the Native American tradition used for thousands of years, smudge your environment and crystals with sage to cleanse the energy fields of toxic energy. Like any meditation practice, begin your therapeutic session by focusing on your breath and quieting the mind. This is also a good time to take stock of your current state. If the hamster wheel is in overdrive, focus your mind on the stone and ask it to bring serenity during times of chaos.
Lapis Lazuli helps bring awareness of the soul and your spiritual purpose in life. For the Egyptians it was the great pyramids. For you, it's whatever your heart desires. And although we may walk different paths than our ancestors, our destinations are the same--to walk into the light of divine purpose. In the words of philosopher Carl Jung, "Who looks outside dreams. Who looks inside awakens." If you are drawn to the cool and soothing colors of this vibrant stone, it could be a sign that you need help getting out of a spiritual funk. Climb out of the abyss with Lapis Lazuli crystal properties and bring tranquility and spiritual renewal into your life.
If your emotional forecast is partly cloudy and blocking your inner rays ofsunshine , call on the Lapis Lazuli crystal properties and channel the soothing vibrations of its deep blue color, which inspires images of the ocean, the sky, and the heavens. And when it comes to finding your happy place, these life-giving elements make top destinations for calming the mind and opening the doors to a higher consciousness. The ultramarine blue crystal allows you to keep your feet on the ground and your head in the clouds.
Treasured by the ancient Egyptians for its powerful ability to bring about insight and spiritual transformation, the Lapis Lazuli crystal healing properties also have practical applications. A natural alternative to aspirin, this stone is an excellent remedy for migraines and headaches, especially since it stimulates the third eye chakra. Place on your forehead along with other healing water stones like Turquoises and Sodalite, and inhale deeply while feeling its brilliant rays of light infusing your body with healing energy. On the exhale, imagine all the bad energy being released, like a river of tranquility flowing out towards the sea.
To all the dreamers of the universe, discover your authentic self in the still, deep energy of ultramarine blue
Want to learn which crystal is right for you? Head over to our Crystal Test and let your intuition guide you to your crystals!
Magnificent Lapis Lazuli. I always wonder how someone can create such heavenly pieces of art. Here
I will talk about the marvelous magical objects wonderful hands have made through time.. I will tell you about its use in the Persian and Roman Empire; the Renaissance and the Modern World. The magnificent works of the famous Pietra Dura. The artistic wonders of Lapis Lazuli (lapis for short). Enjoy!
Ancient Civilizations about ultramarine blue
ultramarine blue is a semi precious stone which appears in the most ancient civilizations known to man. Neolithic men were the first who created the first jewelry. They would bore a small hole through the Lapis Lazuli and string the pebbles of blue with a thread.
4,000 years ago, artists created objects like cylinder seals, necklaces. They also made amulets, animal statuettes and inlay on important statues, mostly in the eyes it absorbs all attention to the figure.
It had such an importance in life as well in the after life. Prove of that is that Lapis Lazuli was also found in Neolithic tombs in Mauritania and in the Caucasus. The wealthiest tombs of the first dynasties had lapis. The Egyptians listed it in their funeral items and also used it at the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamen.
The first land vehicle is a queens sledge with lapis from 2100B.C., an interesting fact that made my day. The Sumerian of ancient times created necklaces, belts, headdress, as well as finery, combs and tiaras.
The Palace walls in the Cretan Palace of Knossos from 2000B.C showed how the pulverized stone was mixed to form a blue pigment for painting.
Priests bordered Ecclesiastic Manuscripts with crushed pigment. Artisan painters also used Lapis for religious shrines and decorative elements on the altars of churches.
The Persians controlled the flow of lapis from antiquity. Their art presented itself in the painting of miniatures like Layla and Majnun, Shirin and Khosrav painting and specially the manuscripts of the poet Nizani (1140-1202 A.D). Persian art, especially served two purposes; it inspired beauty and often provided a practical use in vases, containers and also in personal art. These artisans spent their lives grinding pigments by pulverizing minerals. There were various shades of ultramarin blue as pale blue, azure and greenish blue.
Roman Emperor Augustus wife, Livia, in 1A.D was immortalized in a Lapis figurine carved of her face and affixed to a gold cross. It was a gift to Archbishop Herriman of Cologne. Emperor Augustus was one of the founders of the silk route. The silk route connected trade across Asia and he ruled Rome from 100-44 B.C. He was also the grandnephew to Caesar.
Roman Legionnaires wore seal ring set with gemstones. On his deathbed, Napoleon Bonaparte gave his son a signet ring of lapis. It was a token of love. The Roman practice of wearing seal rings continued and became a tradition. This style began in antiquity and merged into western lifestyle. To acquire an elegant and stylish Lapis Lazuli ring you only have to visit our favorite Nammu store.
Pliny the Elder, a scholar of repute, called lapis a star rock for its gold pyrite flecks.
Throughout the Latin speaking Roman World the word “sapphirus” was used when they were really referring to ultramarine blue china.
The Romans also employed lapis in the treatment of circulatory diseases, epilepsy and skin troubles. They also used it as an aphrodisiac and who knows maybe they still do. They used lapis earrings, bracelets and hypnotizing pendants.
Roman artists also immortalized in 1 A.D., the wife of Roman Emperor Augustus, Livia, in a Lapis Lazuli figurine. Livia’s face was carved and affixed to a gold cross.
In the Salle du Tresors in Paris at the Louvre are fine examples of lapis like the manuscripts of Chantilly where the French also used it as pigment applied to the pages.
Application of uitramarine blue in Renaissance
Renaissance! Literally the rebirth. I’ve talked before of Lapis Lazuli and its artistic uses but I deemed necessary to dedicate an exclusive post to its use by the master artisans of the Renaissance and what it meant to the Roman culture. Who hasn’t seen pictures of Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel or Leonardo da Vinci’s? Lapis Lazuli Azzurro is a formidably example of heavenly craftsmanship.
I particularly had the incredible opportunity to admire in first hand the Sistine Chapel. I remember I used to get lost in the blueness of the heavens without realizing at the time that I was also admiring another piece of work in its self, the beautiful and unique uitramarine blue india.
Artisans and painters from the ancient Rome, also used Lapis for religious shrines and decorative on the altars of churches.
In the Salle du Tresors in Paris at the Louvre are fine examples of lapis like themanuscripts of Chantilly where the French used it as pigments applied to the pages. Due to the frailness of the manuscripts one must wear a mask and turn the pages with wooden sticks to prevent decomposition.
In the Renaissance it was more expensive than gold. Michelangelo’s pigments included Lapis Lazuli for the Sistine Chapel (1475-1564). The Sistine Chapel is by far is one of the most exquisite uses of lapis pigment for the blues of heaven where the best stones were required.
Leonardo da Vinci, Fran Angelico and other master artists also wanted the mineral for pigments. They usually reserved lapis for the cloaks of Christ, Angels and especially the Virgin Mary.
During the Renaissance, the Medici of Florence, the prominent Italian banking family, also provided decorative stones to artists like Benevuto Celli and other master artists.
The following is an excerpt from an indepth article on Genuine and Synthetic Ultramarine, written by Paul Robinson, Artist and Painting & Technical Advisor at Winsor & Newton.
Extracting Genuine Ultramarine Pigment
For the best final pigment; the best quality rock must be used. All except the highest quality of mineral produce only a pale greyish blue powder.
Once the rock is selected, the method described by Cennini is the only effective way to extract the pigment:
The rock is firstly broken down into pieces no larger than a 5 pence piece (measurement) . The crushed rock is then finely ground with water, on a mill or in a pot.
This has to be ground finely enough to pass through a 400’s mesh sieve. This is then allowed to dry, before it is passed through a 200’s mesh sieve giving powder that is ready for extraction.
For extraction, Venice Turps, Mastic Gum and Beeswax Pellets are weighed out into a stainless steel pan and mixed whilst the pan is on a hot plate, until mixture is fully combined and of a smooth consistency.
The mixture is then transferred into another pan through a cup sieve to remove any remaining larger lumps. This pan is kept on a set of scales so the final resin weight can be known.
The lapis powder is then added to medium mix (equal parts) and stirred in until a putty like lump forms. At this stage the resultant mass is scrapped out of the pan using a wooden spoon and a pallet knife, into an enamel bowl of water at room temperature.
With hands and fingers coated in a little refined linseed oil the lump is massaged, constantly immersing it into the water. The linseed oil being re-applied to hands when necessary.
The lazurite contained in the rock is hydrophilic, meaning its molecules are typically charge-polarized and capable of hydrogen bonding, enabling it to dissolve more readily in water than in oil or other hydrophobic solvents.
The whole principle of the refining process is based on these water seeking properties of lazurite. The mixture of rough lapis lazuli and its ever present iron pyrites and granite is dispersed in the thick resinous putty. Massaging this putty under water combined with the hydrophilic property of the lazurite causes the blue particles to pass into the water; whereas the particles of colourless granite together with the iron pyrites adhere to the resin within the putty.
After approximately 2 hours of massaging, a fine blue powder should start to bleed out of the lump. The process is continued, swapping for a fresh bowl of water approximately every 30 minutes.The contents of each bowl are poured through a 400’s mesh before allowing to settle.
This process is repeated until no more blue bleeds from the lump.
The blue powder in the bowls is allowed to settle overnight, when any clear water is tipped off and the powder allowed to dry slowly.
The finished powder is added to boiling water to remove any medium residue, and the powder allowed to dry again.
Genuine Ultramarine has always been an expensive colour to produce because of the very high quality of stone required, because of the very high losses incurred in refining, and because of the long and tedious method of extraction. Ultramarine was the supreme blue in medieval times and also, possibly because of its intrinsic value, the use of this pigment in conjunction with gold was popular as an expression of wealth and elegance with patrons of the Renaissance.
Ultramarine blue originally signified pigment made of lapis lazuli - a super-precious paint made from a semi-precious stone from Afghanistan. Genuine ultramarine was so expensive that a prize was offered to whoever could develop a synthetic alternative that was a tenth of the cost. Not one, but two, individuals met that challenge in 1828 by creating a silicate of sodium and aluminum with sulfur. Shades from green to violet could be made by tweaking the production process. Manufactured from 1830 onward—and called french ultramarine, artificial ultramarine blue, new blue, or permanent blue—the pigment PB29 became one of the most popular colors on artists’ palettes.
Chemically, lapis lazuli paint and ultramarine blue paint are identical, but they do look distinct. Ultramarine blue has small, uniformly sized particles of a single color, but (being a ground-up natural stone) lapis pigment is a mix of colors and irregularly shaped particles, which have a different texture and reflect light differently. Today, we often mean the synthetic version when we say ultramarine blue, tacking on the specifier “genuine” if we intend the much rarer mineral version. All below reference is to PB29 paint.
Limn Colors ultramarine blue is a saturated, semitransparent, dark, violet-leaning blue. It makes clean violet mixes with cool reds and magentas and is nicely neutralized with siennas or raw umber. Ultramarine's unique property of flocculation—the tendency of its particles to clump up together—give it a lively granulating texture in washes. Interesting effects can be achieved when mixing ultramarine with a micronized pigment, as some of the heavier blue particles will sink a bit while the lightest particles will float above. You can try this by blending ultramarine blue and quinacridone magenta, then applying in a very wet wash. By the time the violet dries, there will likely be some separation of the two paints.
GOT THE BLUES
Lapis paint was too pricy even for Michelangelo; synthetic ultramarine blue pigment brought affordable, bright blue to every palette.
ULTRAMARINE BLUE USAGE
Ultramarine blue is a safe, lightfast pigment used for ultra-whitening fabrics and papers, achieving that Liz-Taylor-in-Cleopatra eye look, dramatic interior decorating, and of course fine art.
•One of the hues in Pablo Picasso’s blue period was ultramarine blue.
•Ultramarine blue is the base for International Klein Blue, the vivid blue invented in 1960 and used extensively in 2D, 3D, and performance art by Frenchman Yves Klein. His formula included a resin that added a lapis-like luster to the synthetic pigment.
Vincent Van Gogh painted the deeper blues in Starry Night with ultramarine blue.
•Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The Umbrellas was painted in two stages, the earlier portion with cobalt blue and the later with ultramarine.
•It’s a who’s who of blue: John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Piet Mondrian, J. M. W. Turner, Claude Monet...
WARM BLUE VS COOL BLUE
This is not a trick question: do you think ultramarine blue is a cool blue or a warm blue? A blue can lean more green and thus yellow, like phthalo blue gs, or more violet and thus red, like ultramarine. But not everyone agrees which direction is warm and which is cool. Itten’s color theory defines blue-green as the coolest color on the wheel, so that would make blue-violet warmer. Plus, the rule of "cool colors recede" would indicate ultramarine is a warm blue as it seems to come forward in a painting. Others say violet, the coolest color on the ROYGBV spectrum line, should mean purply blues are cooler; and if yellow is the hottest color, then greenish blues are warmer. Books, artists, and color theorists don’t see eye-to-eye on this one. Brain melting.
LAPIS LAZULI PIGMENTS
Lapis Lazuli pigment (Lazurite, Natural Ultramarine, Azzurro Oltramarino, Fra Angelico blue pigment, Lapis Lazuli genuine, Ultramarine ash)
Natural pigment suitable for icon painting (egg tempera), oil painting and watercolor painting without additional grinding.
Cennino Cennini "Il Libro dell' Arte" - "Ultramarine blue is a color illustrious, beautiful, and most perfect, beyond all other colors; one could not say anything about it, or do anything with it, that its quality would not still surpass."
Lapis Lazuli is a blue semiprecious stone mined in the Badakhshan province of Afghanistan for centuries. It can be found in other locations in Asia and America but only a couple of Afgan mines produce the highest grade (a very deep purplish blue) of this unique stone. It is a complex mineral composed of lazurite, calcite, sodalite and pyrite. It has many varieties of color in ranges from a light blue denim to a deep dark purplish blue tone depending on the value of lazurite in the composition. The highest values have dark blue rocks with a solid blue area (blue meat) with tiny veins of pyrite. This type is called gem grade or AAA grade. Other grades are not that high in value and are easy to obtain. These are mainly used for carvings. Some dealers alter natural rocks by dyeing to improve the color. Because there is no standard on how to grade these rocks they can all call their grade gem grade or AAA. The high grade of the mineral is difficult to obtain and often requires traveling and personal selection.
Master Pigments Lapis Lazuli pigments are prepared from gem grade rocks. It took years of looking and learning about grades of rocks and people around them. The preparation of the pigment starts with cutting raw rocks to a smaller size and eliminating as much calcite and pyrite as possible. Then the size of rocks is reduced by a jaw crusher into coarse sand. Lapis Lazuli rocks are very hard, with it being the hardest material I have ever experienced. The distinct smell of burned matches accommodates the crushing process. Marble or glass collapse in the crusher like butter compared to crushing Lapis Lazuli rocks. After crushing, the sand is washed in the water. The cleaned Lapis Lazuli sand is further wet milled in a metal free environment to prevent contamination. The milling time is extended due to the hardness of the sand. First the sand is milled with big media then is milled again with smaller media to reduce particles to a size under 50 microns. Because of this long milling time, non-contaminating milling is very important. I can't imagine how hard this process must be and how crushed powder looked in the 14th century. Makes me wonder about the studies of paint recipes from the masters and their additives to paint and how many “additives” were intentional and how much contamination was actually from pigment and paint preparation. Cennini wrote to crush the rocks in bronze mortar and then to do the powder on glass with water. By the time they were done with size reduction, there must have been quite a lot of contaminant in the prepared powder. The size reduction is the key because all blue crystals have to be separated from colorless contaminants and produce smooth pigments instead of a sandy, gritty, powder. But again not too small, because the final color of extracted pigment needs to have a purpulish toned 'glow' significant to this special pigment. This is also the step where all nice blue particles temporarily disappear in the sediments and the color of the mixture is more gray than blue. There is no resemblance to the rich blue color of Lapis rocks at all. The solution is left to settle. Multiple washes of the powder follow, until the wash water becomes neutral in pH. Then the solution is left to settle and air dried. This is the Lapis Lazuli powder – fine 303030. Then the pigment extraction follows.
Now the real alchemy takes place. The process is based on the recipe from the book The “Craftsman's Handbook” by Cennino d'Andrea Cennini which is translated by Daniel V. Thompson, Jr. The original Italian text was a great help. Many thanks to the great guidance of 'maestro'. Due to extensive research and multiple try-n-fail experiences, Master Pigments can extract this unique pigment. After years of looking for the right ingredients and steps in the preparation routine, the procedure was developed. Different grades of the pigment are extracted. A plastic dough formed of resin and powder is intact during the whole extraction process. There is no disintegration of dough or wrapping in the cloth. Just oiled hands, dough and water. The preparation begins by melting raw beeswax, gum mastic and pine rosin. The previously prepared pigment is mixed in. Then the mixture is kneaded in hands until an evenly textured of dark grayish-blue dough forms. While still hot and elastic, the mass is divided into three parts and these are formed into sticks.
That way they are easier to knead. Each stick is kneaded by hands in hot water in a specific routine, repeated number of times. The dough keep impurities locked in while pigment particles fall out and descend down to the bottom of the container. This is literally a 'hand made' pigment. The first routine produces the best grade. Vivid, deep blue, but not dark, hypnotizing. Every-time an uplifting and purifying feeling arises almost like there is more to see but our vision is limited to go so far in blue range. This is the Fra Angelico blue pigment (303001). The second and third routine sticks release a very high grade of blue – this is my Lapis Lazuli – Pure grade 1st pigment (303005). Fra Angelico blue and Lapis Lazuli pure 1st grade are grades of pigment which require huge patience with the preparation of the dough and extraction itself. From the fourth to the seventh part of the routine the dough releases nice blue particles of pigment which are the Lapis Lazuli - Ultramarine ash (303010). This is a nice blue, not grayish but not as vivid as higher grades, valued by the painter for its transparent properties. It is free of impurities and much more vibrant than the raw powder.