While some current artists may think that mica is a relatively new art supply, mica powder has been around for thousands of years. Artists and inventors have used it in various projects and industries since its discovery during ancient times. Join in on this incredible tradition and keep reading to get a quick look at the history of mica powder before jumping into your next project.
Ancient Discovery and Uses
As mentioned above, humans have known about and used mica since ancient times. The first use we know about is in cave paintings from the Upper Paleolithic period, which lasted from 40,000 to 10,000 BCE. Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Romans, and Aztecs all used mica as an art supply and the first colors they used were red, black, and white since they’re the most naturally occurring. The people of India also used mica to create stained glass windows in palaces.
Early CE Uses
As we move from ancient to modern times, we see more cultures use mica powder in various ways. People in India and the surrounding area, as well as in the Americas, began using mica powder to decorate pottery. Alongside pottery, traditional Japanese woodblock printmaking uses mica powder to decorate illuminated manuscripts since there are large mica deposits in central Japan.
Nineteenth Century to Now
While mica powder was a popular art supply throughout various cultures that could easily access it, it wasn’t until reserves of mica were found in South America and Africa that its use skyrocketed. As our scientific understanding expanded and we experimented with this mineral, we began using mica to insulate electric equipment and create heat-safe windows in ovens, amongst other uses. We also now know that many forms of mica are skin safe, so we can use it as an ingredient in beauty and body products, such as eyeshadow and bath bombs. However, some cultures have continued to use mica as an important ingredient for pottery and art. As much as things change, they also stay the same.
Our quick look at the history of mica powder covers everything from the ancient uses of mica in cave paintings to our current uses of mica in electronics. If you want to join in this tradition of using mica for various creative and scientific purposes, you can. Eye Candy Pigments offers white mica powder and other colors so you can paint, design experiments, and more.