Friday, May 05, 2006

A Value Scale for Fiber

Each medium, whether it be photography, paint, watercolor or fiber - each has its own value scale. Part of my Value Study is to develop the actual value scale for the yarns that I use in my tapestry.

What we actually see in nature is the maximum value scale. But with other mediums the value scale is compressed. In my yarns, my whites are not the pure white you see in nature. Nor are my blacks pure black. They cannot be made in yarn. In addition, due to the texture of yarns the shadows distort the values depending upon where the light is coming from.

I need to develop a value scale that will depict nature as close as possible given this compression of values due to the nature of the fiber. Somehow this 'ideal range' of natural color must be squeezed into this smaller range for fiber. By doing this, my colors will appear more natural and accurate to the viewer.

My scale will have nine categories. There must be a perceptual interval change and each should seem half way between its neighbors. The mid-value should be roughly between the darkest and lightest values.

So far, I have worked diligently to get the yarns in the best value order that I can. The pictures are below. This took awhile, because the values had to line up in value order based on what they looked like woven, not on bobbins or in balls. It's pretty easy to see if something is mid-value or light. It is harder to determine the distinctions between two categories next to each other or for yarns within the same category. You may remember a similar picture...this is my second attempt - better results plus I added more yarns to fill out my spectrum.

I have also taken a first stab at putting them into the nine value categories that I plan to use. The scale was developed by Denman Ross in 1907 and uses descriptive phrases to identify each category verses other scales that use numbers or percentages. I find this easier to use and remember. If you would like to read more about the scale and the High Minor Key - click here.

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