Designing color studies

Six days since the last blog post? There must be something wrong with me!

And, in fact, there is – fortunately not anything permanent, just a really virulent cold, the kind where you can’t sleep because of congestion and coughing. I’ve been a zombie the last few days, but this morning I’m feeling a little better. Hope to get over it soon!

When not roaming the street in search of brains to eat, I’ve been doing a little bit of weaving. I have finished my samples and write-up for the 24 More Or Less Complex Weavers Study Group, and am about 25% done weaving projects for an upcoming article in Handwoven. Even with the cold, I should have those done by the end of the week. After that I need to revisit and rework my lesson plan for a two-day workshop on the design process. I’m teaching it at Fiber Celebrations (Ft. Collins, Colorado) in mid-March.

And, finally, I want to get started on some color studies. The topic for this year’s Designing Fabrics Study Group articles is color – and while I could write something abstract, I’d much rather write about something I’ve actually woven. Some of the discussion in the group has been about color “ruts” and how to get out of them. It’s made me realize that I do have my own ruts, and I need to challenge myself a bit more.

What are my color ruts? Well, first, I tend to use very saturated, intense colors. This is partly personal preference – I look great in jewel tones, and I’ve never been a particularly subtle person, so I like colors that make an intense statement. But duller colors are an essential part of the color palette, ones I’d like to use more effectively. I’ve been getting the daily email fromĀ Design Seeds, which gives a photo and a palette of colors used in that photo. What amazes me is that, even in relatively bright-colored photos, there are also a ton of duller and darker colors. They play an essential part in making the photo work.

My second “rut” is that I tend to use medium value colors, black, and white. The reason is that I have a very extensive palette of dye samples, but they’re all dyed at the same depth of shade, about 3% dye compared to the weight of the fiber. On silk, that generally yields a medium to dark shade. Of course I can adjust the amount of dye to create a lighter shade, but that can be tricky – colors shift when diluted, often in unexpected ways. So I more often dye to match the sample, meaning I’ve let my dye samples dictate my color palette. Must get out of that rut!

My third rut is color schemes. I tend to use analogous colors, meaning I use colors that are adjacent or nearly-adjacent on the color wheel. This is partly because I like playing with color gradations, but also because analogous colors are easy to use together, since they all “go together”. Unfortunately, they harmonize a little too well, so an analogous color scheme can easily feel a little “flat”. There isn’t enough tension to make it interesting.

So there are a bunch of other color schemes, like triadic (magenta-turquoise-cyan), complementary, split complementary (e.g. blue, orange-red, and yellow-orange), and, well, lots of others. I haven’t explored them much…yet.

I hope I’m giving you a sense for the ton of things there are to be explored about color. The challenge I have right now is figuring out how to experiment effectively with color schemes…on a single warp, since the deadline is coming up fast. This is not the same as doing a classic color gamp – the usual color gamp shows you how colors blend when woven together, which is different from composing an overall color palette.

So far I’m just mulling the possibilities, but I’m leaning towards double weave with two colors in the warp and two or more colors in the weft. Actually I’m thinking of something more complex than that – something like painting both warps in a collections of colors, and even dividing the warps into two or three sections (as with a regular color gamp), each painted with a different set of colors, so I can weave more samples at once. And, of course, I have to design the threading.

Obviously this could easily blow up into something far too complicated to be woven before the deadline, so I need to tame my natural urge to Try Everything At Once. I’ll probably spend a couple days thinking this through, in between weaving off my other commitments and wandering the streets searching fruitlessly for brains. If you have suggestions, I’d love to know!

Finally, in preparation for these color studies, I’ve brought out the dyepots. Which of course excites Fritz and Tigress tremendously. For, after all, isn’t a dyepot really just a big box? Perfect for sitting in.

Fritz and Tigress in the dye pot

Fritz and Tigress, doing what cats do best!

This entry was posted in Blog posts, dyeing, textiles, weaving and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

One Comment

  1. Ruth
    Posted February 3, 2014 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Thx for the link to Design Seeds. Great site! I’ve subscribed.

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