PLUS, there’s one particular shade of blue (or indigo, depending) that is derived by extracting the blood from thousands of little ocean snails, oxidizing it, and dyeing fabric with it to create a mystical hue known as tekhelet, Tyrian purple, or (as mentioned above) murex purple, which was once more valuable than gold–partially because it became brighter when exposed to sunlight and weathering.
In the beautiful mosaic of 20th-century art and science, it was discovered how and why the blood of many earth critters can manifest so many beautiful hues.
Hemoglobin is what we humans (and most mammals) have as a means to carry oxygen to the cells in our bodies. It uses iron molecules to get the job done.
Hemocyanin, on the other hand, uses copper to do this same job in many sea creatures, including crabs, lobsters, and of course, sea snails.
Wait, copper? Like, the stuff pennies were made of?
So how do we get blue dye from copper? I bet you’re asking.
Oxygen, and sunlight. Really! When copper oxidizes*, it turns a greenish-bluish shade.
What do you mean, you don’t believe me? You’ve seen the Statue of Liberty, right?
That French beaut is made of 3/32 in copper, protected by a lovely patina. Totally rockin’ that look, Lady Liberty!
There’s no mention of animals being able to draft, though. I thought for sure there would be some mention that dissection revealed these creatures were packing luxin… Huh, I just realized sub-red drafters give whole new meaning to “packing heat”!
Okay, I’m gonna stop there.
*Thanks for making us do all those redox equations in AP Chem, Ms. Johnson! That knowledge finally came in handy! 😉
Holy crow! Fan Even Ennis commissioned this ASTONISHING Lightbringer v. Night Angel tattoo, featuring Kip and Kylar:
Evan says it took an entire YEAR to complete (uh, not in one sitting, but you get the idea). Major props to Evan and his tattoo artist for having the patience, pain tolerance, and perseverance to make this beauty!
If you’re in Maryland, USA, you can tell Rob Zeinog at Evolved Body Arts that he does spectacular work.
In our last installment of RLF, we talked about the history of the color blue, which hopefully was enjoyed by my fellow art history enthusiasts out there.
If you were not one of those fine folks… You may not find this one intriguing either. It’s more about the color blue, along with how artists have procured and created it.
The first link is from Fast Company, specifically focusing on Prussian Blue (HERE). It is considered the first synthetic color, in that it wasn’t extracted from minerals or plants (or animals, as we’ll discuss in a bit). Prussian Blue was discovered in 1704 by German chemist Heinrich Diesbach; it’s cochineal + iron sulfate + cyanide = C18Fe7N18. (The Wiki page on Prussian Blue is a fun little rabbit hole for chemists out there.) As the article points out, this new shade of cerulean meant that the ultra-expensive ultramarine was no longer necessary for painting with blue. Which basically means without Diesbach, Picasso would probably have been some schlub painting everything Rose.
“Wait,” you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with chromaturgy, or the Seven Satrapies?”
The second link is from the LA Times, about Murex Purple (HERE).
“Wait!” you say. “I recognize that phrase… Isn’t it the color
Liv wears to signify herself as a superviolet drafter once she joins the Color Prince? *shakes fist at our favorite misunderstood traitor* And then becomes her signature color once she becomes Ferrilux?”
Yes. Yes it is.
Murex purple, or tekhelet in Hebrew, is created–long story short–by extracting the blood from thousands of Murex trunculus snails, then exposing it to full-spectrum sunlight. Without the sunlight, the purplish “ink” turns fabric yellow. We know that this is because the blood contains hemocyanin, a respiratory protein that delivers oxygen to organs in many species of mollusk, including Murex trunculus.
Astute readers will notice the similarity of the word “hemocyanin” to “hemoglobin”… and will recognize that “cyan” in the middle is also the name of a shade of blue.
“WAIT!” you shout to your screen. “What is hemocyanin again?”
Ah ha! Patience, grasshopper. We are building the foundation for that.
Hi friends! Thanks for sending me your SPECTACULAR Hitchhiker’s Guide/Lightbringer or Night Angel fan art. You each made my 42nd birthday extra-special, and you managed to spark a little joy into our brittle, obsidian hearts.
This one is from Victoria, who asked: “[could Durzo] handle the best drink in existence? Or if the ka’kari would ruin the full experience? Maybe it’s just me.”
The next [delicious] one is from Deana, who said: “I hope you all enjoy Kip Guile in his Turtle-bear form holding Hellfang. He’s falling along with petunias made of various luxin colors, including white. I made the turtle-bear of 3 different icing colors, and 2 different fondant colors to make it more dynamic. I hope the Chromeria doesn’t knock me for this. The cake is Devil’s Food, with chocolate filling and luxin color sprinkles, covered in buttercream icing. The “Don’t Panic” letters were drawn freehand with melted candy. Turtleback and flower pot are made of rice-crispy treats covered in icing and fondant.”
This one is from Zsuzsi, who said: “So, did you guys know that under the RESTAURANT AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE, there’s a blue cell with a prisoner inside? And there’s an android called MARVISIA, who has to throw a blue bread down a chute every single day? …It’s a diorama with some discussions. The dolls, the blue cell and the bread are planned and crocheted by me for this mission. But I have to say special thanks to my 4 year old daughter, who did not draw all over my notes. 🙂
Sentences with blue – are from the book Restaurant at the End of the Universe…
Sentences with red – those are from Blinding Knife… well, a bit modified 🙂
Oh, and I know Gavin’s hand is on Blood Forest, but let’s say, he’s pointing at Ru 🙂
Next we have this bit of hilarity from Tim:
And finally, an excerpt from the short story created by Sophia:
“The Wight in question was the strangest red wight or wight of any color that [Gavin had] ever seen. The halo around its eyes had clearly broken and the red had gushed through, drenching the oddly triangular eyes in an even, scarlet glow. The body was made with a strange kind of silvery luxin. Silver! Gavin had not known about the existence of this metallic silver luxin. It was strange behavior, particularly in a red. Why would a crazy, hot-headed red choose a silver body? And how? Still, its physical aspects were not even the strangest thing about it. That would be the fact that it looked depressed instead of angry and passionate. A red.”
The color blue has a pretty awesome place in human history. Many professional smartypantses [archaeologists, evolutionary biologists, historians, et al] believe humans evolved the ability to perceive the color, in a gradual shift from bichromatic to trichromatic vision. Last time we shared a bit of Real Life Fantasy, it was mentioned that there’s no word for the color blue in ancient languages (including Hebrew, Latin, and Greek, among others). The coolest evidence of this lack is in Homer’s version of The Odyssey, in which he describes the sea as “wine-red” rather than any shade of blue. And if our man Homer didn’t even have a word for blue, it seems safe to expect that none of his friends had the word either.
But luckily for Ironfist, and Cruxer, and Samila Sayeh, blue started showing up in Egyptian jewelry around 4,000 BCE, and in pigment (known now as “Egyptian Blue”) around 2,200 BCE.
Multiple shades of blue–including ultramarine and cobalt blue– were being used by artists centuries before the era of the Seven Satrapies. By the time Gollaïr and Solarch show up around 142 anno lucidonius, they have a full complement of blues from which to choose.