I’ve had a wonderful week! I was invited by David Stuart and Sander Bouman of Colormaker (the makers of Permaset, the best textile pigment printing ink around) to visit the ultramarine pigment factory Holliday Pigments in the town of Comines on the French / Belgian border. It was a magical experience! The process of creating synthetic Ultramarine is extraordinary and I was delighted to have seen the process from start to finish. By far the best aspect being the cast off, the ultramarine dust that lines the entire factory. It was truly beautiful, especially when you’re a tinsy bit of an industrial junkie, all that amazing equipment coated in ultramarine blue.
Humans have been producing synthetic Ultramarine for close to two hundred years. It is a process of turning a white brick composing of clay, sodium carbonate and sulphur into the a blue brick of unprocessed pigment then processing this brick into a pure, rich pigment. The final pigment product is used in a phenomenal range of products from cosmetics to plastics, paints, inks and coatings. It gives the blue colour to water bottle lids manufactured all over the world and allows manufacturers to produce the richest, darkest blacks, would you believe that ultramarine is a component of mascara and car interior plastics?.
At the bottom of this post I have embedded a short film I found on YouTube to show you a bit about the process and production of ultramarine at Holliday Pigments.
*UPDATE* I have been asked (very nicely) to remove a number of photos and the link to the short film which I believe were the heart and soul of this post so I apologise for the lack of coherence and a good sense of the Holliday factory. The pictures that depicted the shear beauty of the factory have been removed and unfortunately the effect will have to be left to your imagination. Take an image of any factory situation and then cover every square millimeter in ultramarine pigment dust. Astonishingly beautiful.
Hundreds of changing textures adorn the floor from boots and rubber tyre tread.
A poor photograph but it captured the true richness and depth of the colour perfectly.
The company also manufactures Manganese Violet which is created using a different process to Ultramarine production and I managed to get a couple of photos whilst the technicians were working on its creation. A unique colour indeed!