For the first time in 200 years, a new shade of blue is on sale. In 2009, scientists developed YInMn Blue, which derives its name from its chemical components: indium, manganese and yttrium. It absorbs red and green wavelengths to produce the bright azure shade, which is unique because it’s a hybrid of ultramarine and cobalt blue.
Even though it’s been over a decade, consumer access to the pigment had to process through the usual myriad of government regulations – particularly the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In 2016, the Shepherd Color Company received a license to sell YInMn Blue and sees the color’s potential industrial usages. The pigment reflects most infrared radiation; thus, keeping building exteriors cool.
The color blue has a lengthy history of discovery and innovation. It is the first human-made pigment; dating to roughly 2,200 B.C.E., when Egyptians created cuprorivaite, known simply as Egyptian blue. Its developers ground limestone mixed with sand and a copper-containing mineral, such as azurite or malachite, then heated it between 1470 and 1650°F. This produced an opaque blue glass, which then had to be crushed and combined with thickening agents such as egg whites to create a long-lasting paint or glaze.
Thousands of years ago the ancient Maya developed their own shade of blue. Known simply as Mayan blue, it’s a vibrant, durable and fade-resistant blue extracted from the leaves of the indigo plant (Indigofera) and palygorskite, a clay mineral. Researchers believe Mayan blue was used in more ceremonial situations than artistic.
YInMn Blue is available to American consumers only through Golden Paints and Italian Arts Store. Now anyone can purchase a tube of it for USD 179.40. I don’t know if that’s retail or wholesale, but artists have another reason to struggle in the name of their craft.