“Cobalt blue is a divine color and there is nothing so beautiful for putting atmosphere around things.” Vincent Van Gogh (from Pigments through the Ages)
If such a thing as the perfect blue exists, it would have to be cobalt blue. Cobalt has the richness of sapphires and the beauty of stained glass. As Van Gogh said, it is a divine color. But that was not always the case. Cobalt was found as a by-product of silver mining and thought to contaminate the silver ore. Cobalt’s interference with silver ore led to the belief that it was from an evil spirit or goblin. The name derives from the German word Kobald or Kobolt, meaning underground evil spirit or goblin and the Greek word for mining, cobalos.
The western world first began exploration of cobalt’s use in the early 18thCentury. Swedish chemist Georg Brandt isolated Cobalt Blue in glass making in 1742 according to the encyclopedia Britannica, but the 13thCentury Yuan Dynasty used cobalt as a glazing tint in fine vases and other pottery long before Brandt. French scientist Thernard is credited with the first artist’s pigment of cobalt blue in 1802. Cobalt Blue is also known as Thernard’s Blue and Dresden Blue.
Gamblin says cobalt is a “true blue” and worth the price because its properties cannot be mixed. Daniel Smith’s website says Cobalt Blue is “a neutral, non-staining primary blue,” and “its transparent nature will cast a giant reticulating shadow.” Daniel Smith also says Cobalt Blue is “considered transparent and non-staining (low-tinting) and ideal for glazing methods.”
If you love Cobalt Blue and don’t wish to paint with it, you can purchase a Hammer’s Cobalt Blue lobster for your aquarium. Live Aquaria says the lobster is “generally peaceful, except with its own kind” so be sure not to put it in with your other lobsters. Not in to lobsters but still loving the Cobalt Blue? You can get an African Cobalt Blue Zebra Cichlid for your aquarium from Live Fish Direct. If you prefer spiders to fish, you can go for the Cobalt Blue Tarantula. Jefferson Lab says the Cobalt Blue Tarantula is “one of the rarest, most beautiful” of all tarantula species. Personally, I can’t see any spider as beautiful, but that’s just me! A Cobalt Blue Tarantula may be viewed at the Oakland Zoo for those who really want to see one. I’m taking a pass on that.
For the less daring who love all things Cobalt Blue, the wax can be purchased from Brambleberry.com to make lovely Cobalt Blue candles. The powder for Cobalt Blue soap making can be obtained from Wholesalesuppliesplus.com. But the easiest way to get your Cobalt Blue fix for bloggers is to go with the WordPress Cobalt Blue Theme on your blog. It’s a lovely theme.
Cobalt Blue is a stunningly beautiful color. The evil association is very unfair. Van Gogh was right about Cobalt Blue’s divine appeal. Perhaps there is a divine goblin somewhere. Cobalt Blue is a fabulous color for any artist’s paintbox if you can get around the images of lobsters, fish and spiders. The spider name seems particularly unfair. Why couldn’t they call that thing an Ultramarine Tarantula? Perhaps an association with the brilliant blue of a male bluebird can change the brain picture of fish and spiders. Cobalt is the only color that will give me the shimmery blue of a male bluebird, especially against the backdrop of a Cerulean sky. The Bluebird of Happiness is definitely divine. Presto! New brain image! Now go paint everything divinely blue!!