Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Stumped by Color?

Well I have finished sixteen taquete bookmarks and it looks like I will have enough warp to do three perhaps four more color palette/beetle patterns. I am a bit stumped as to what colors to select for these remaining ones. I finished the color combinations in the suggested colors from all of you. So now, I stare at my thread stash wondering what to do next...

Yes, in addition to my weaving yarn stash and my knitting yarn stash I have a thread stash. In fact the thread stash is larger than my knitting stash in both color selection and volume. Are you familiar with those plastic thread containers that hold hundreds of sulky threads? Well, I have two of the containers and they are both completely filled with colors. Plus I have an 'overflow' basket with more bobbins of thread. I always seems like the more choices you have in color...the tougher it becomes to create the 'right' combination.

I recalled this morning I had written an article a year or so ago about my favorite color books which gave me an idea on how to proceed in color selection. I pulled out the book Living Colors...it was hidden under a pile of other books. I had forgotten it was one of my favorite books - out of site out of mind. I am going to select 'palettes from history' for my remaining bookmarks. I will let you know later as to what I select.

But for your reading pleasure here is the book review I wrote for our local weaving guild's newsletter awhile ago. It provides more details about the book. Having jus re- read it, I realize I have progressed quite a bit in my ability to select good combinations of colors since I wrote that article. But I still find it easier to design the structure than select the colors, so I still must be a structure person.

"My Favorite Color Books

I have always heard that there are two types of weavers; color and structure. The color weavers are those who can easily select yarn combinations that speak volumes to their audience. Their colors blend, sizzle or harmonize at their command. But that's just not me. I am a structure person. I get quite stumped when I need to choose yarns. I have a whole queue of designs just waiting to be woven if only I could find the right color combination from my stash. If you are like me, often struggling with color, then these books might be for you.

This is my first suggestion. Living Colors; The definitive guide to color palettes through the ages by Margaret Walch and Augustine Hope, 1995. Available from the LA Public Library.
Why re-invent the wheel when you can use a color palette that has survived the rigors of history? I figure if a color palette was successful historically then it should work on a contemporary piece woven by me. Living Colors provides 80 color palettes from history. They are set up like paint samples from Home Depot with
5-10 color chips on each palette.

Examples of palettes include those of famous artists like Matisse, Albers, Whistler, Seurat and many more, by historical periods like The Twenties, or Thirties, by place like Egypt, the Southwest, Japan, SoHo and Hawaii plus palettes representing Tiffany, Liberty, Wedgwood & Bakelite and other niches of history.

Here is how I use these color palettes:

1. I periodically flip through Living Colors and put stickers on those palettes I find attractive or appealing.

2. Later, I match the yarn in my stash with the colors of the palette, cutting a piece of yarn from each color and attaching them to a key ring that I have labeled with the palette's name.

3. I keep all the key rings on my bulletin board for inspiration.

4. When a loom becomes available to turn one of my doodles into a woven piece; I take a look at my key rings of palettes and select one; knowing the colors will work well together. Often I will use the same palette for a series of pieces; this frees me from the ongoing worries of color and leaves me more time to focus on design, technique, contemplation and the joys of weaving.

Here is one more book to consider. Color Harmony Workbook; a workbook and guide to creative color combinations from Rockport Publishers, 2001. Easily available from Amazon.com and other places.

We all know that color is what sets the mood or emotion of a weaving. The workbook Color Harmony contains information on various color combinations to achieve twenty two specific moods. Let's say I want my weaving to express power, magic, softness, calm, energy or perhaps elegance. Color Harmony shows various monochromatic, complimentary and analogous
color combinations to achieve these moods. For each mood, there are small color chips that can be torn out of the book and used like swatches. With 60 swatches for each mood,there are more than enough color combinations to mix and match with the yarns in my stash to achieve the desired effect.

Both books have provided a good starting point for color selection in my weavings; Color Harmony to achieve the right mood, and Living Colors to achieve a pleasing palette. If you are not satisfied with your color selections, these books may provide a new perspective to take your weavings to the next level. "


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your article! The color books appear to be wonderful resources. I also like your stash idea - nice way to keep things available when you're designing.

You've probably already heard of these inspiring women, but if you're interested in thoughtful & unusual knitting, you may want to look at "Unexpected Knitting" by Debbie New and works by Katherine Cobey.


Emma said...

I liked your review of these books so much that I just ordered both from Amazon.com.

I came to your blog via a link from Charleen's Fiberblog and have been reading everything from the beginning. You do interesting, beautiful work.