Blue bice is the name given to a pale blue artificial basic copper carbonate with approximately the same chemical composition as azurite. Blue bice was used in watercolors and distemper during the 17th and 18th centuries. Our blue bice is made according to an English recipe of the 18th century.
English: verditer; blue ashes, cendres blue, Sanders blue; mountain blue, copper blue, lime blue French: cendres bleu; bleu de montagne; bleu d'Allemagne German: Verditer; Aschblau; Bergblau; Kalkblau Italian: ceneri blu di pasta, azzurro della cenere; azzurro della magna Portuguese: azul da cinza; azul da montanha Spanish: azul de la ceniza; azul de la montaña Latin: lapis armenius; azurium citramarinum
Origin and History Prior to the 17th century, the name bice was used to designate the natural mineral azurite. In the 18th century and afterwards, bice was understood to mean a pale blue pigment and finely ground smalt and copper carbonates were sold under that name. It also found use in watercolor and distemper paints in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Source Numerous early recipes for the preparation of basic copper carbonate are known; the best types appear to have been prepared at relatively low temperatures with a copper salt. This sky blue, slightly more greenish than natural azurite, lends itself well to consistent applications of color. Microscopically, blue bice appears as tiny, rounded, fibrous aggregates, even in size and blue by transmitted light. It is similar in color to finely ground azurite.
Permanence and Compatibility Blue bice is stable in lime and is well suited for tempera and watercolor, but is liable to darken or become greenish in oil.
Oil Absorption and Grinding Blue bice absorbs a medium amount of oil (23 g oil per 100 g of pigment).
Toxicity Blue bice contains copper, which can be toxic if inhaled or ingested. Care should be used in handling the dry powder pigment to avoid inhaling the dust.
Pigment: Blue Bice
Pigment Blue 30 (77420)
Basic Copper Carbonate
ASTM Lightfastness Rating
α=1.73, β=1.758, γ=1.838
23 g oil/100 g pigment
Natural Pigments is a limited liability company based in Willits, California. We manufacture and distribute rare and hard-to-find materials for fine artists and decorators. We specialize in supplying artists' materials that were used in historical painting since pre-historic times up to and including the nineteenth century.
We constantly search for materials and products of the finest quality so that we can bring them direct to you from the source. To do so, we travel the world to find materials specifically for use by professional artists and decorators. We obtain minerals from mines in Afghanistan, Chile, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, to name a few places, processing these into natural pigments. We purchase resins, gums and plants from India, Kenya and Malaysia to make natural varnishes and painting mediums.
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