I had accumulated a large pile of fabrics I collected for collages and it was growing uncontrollably. I decided to organize them by value. That was too foreboding at first so I sorted them by color (hue) then I took each pile and took out the light ones for the box of light-values.
Next I pulled out the darkest value ones for the dark box. That made it easier to fill the medium box.
The fourth box was for larger pieces of cloth.
What fun. But I sure had a backache after all that working with piles on the floor.
I was busy over the holidays making this piece. All the fabrics were dyed with black walnuts I collected in early December. Some I put in iron water for a short time to “sadden” or grey the colors. There were two different fabrics which were shiny so I could play with the color differences when I turned them 90 degrees. I cut the squares and turned them 90 degrees from each other to get the same effect as changing the nap in corduroy or velvet. I mounted the pieces on cotton fabric strips and moved them around to make the composition. Then I mounted all the strips on black fabric. Everything was joined with long straight pins. Some time ago I realized the straight pins in my pin cushion were too fat for silk fabrics so I got “Extra-Long Satin Pins”.
Last night when only one light was on in the room, the pins themselves shimmered for further effect.
When I got started I wanted to know what fiber my fabrics were made of. I went to my files to look up “burn test” and there was a page from my own book! I’m still not exactly sure of what I have—it came from a warehouse sale I went to in November. I think they are silk. Here is the chart from my book, “Weaving & Drafting Your Own Cloth“.
Many years ago I took a class in damask and learned about satins and I focused on warp face and weft face and color. I don’t know why I thought I needed 11 yards, but I made the warp that long. I would say it was about 15” wide. The warp was blue and grey out of 20/2 pearl cotton. The threading was 2 blocks and then I played with how colors mixed and looked next to each other. I still have a large stash of a lot of colors and shades of sewing thread which I used for wefts.
Since I was playing, sometimes the “right side” was on top and sometimes the “wrong side”. Of course there was no repeat!
When I showed it to my students one day Antione Alexander said he could make a coat out of it. The next week he had a muslin and the next week the completed coat! WOW! Later I had a seamstress put in interfacing and a lining. I wore it to the symphony a few weeks ago and have gotten nice compliments every time I wear it. I really feel I lucked out! I think he did a great job.
Each composition is made up of fabrics that were in the same dye pot. The differences in the tones are due to the different fabrics I put into the pot. I love these subtle “colors”. The yellows were from woad plants. The browns were from green persimmons over dyed with indigo. I especially find myself liking things that have almost no color at all. One of these is from oak galls. I can’t remember all the specifics but I like to put dyed fabrics in a bath of iron water to “sadden” the color.
I discovered these oak galls under an oak tree. I have always thought they were gorgeous—and that they make a nice dye, too. I’ve given away all my dye chemicals and pots but wanted to see what color they would give. I smashed some of the less-beautiful galls and poured boiling water over them and let them steep with a couple of scraps from my boro project—silks and cotton flannel. I soaked them over night and was not impressed with what I found the next morning. So I went to the internet and of course there were entries about dyeing with oak galls (and more about the galls). I discovered I needed to soak the cloth in a solution of rust and vinegar or lemon juice after soaking the cloth overnight in the gall and water solution. You can see what I’ve gotten so far. [click photos to enlarge]
I’m seduced with the subtle colors so far and want to continue experimenting with longer gall-soaks followed by longer rust soaks. So far I’ve just done overnight. The info said I should get black with this recipe but I’m very far from that. Greys and darker shades would be fine. The two darker pieces were light indigo dyed before I did the two oak gall processes. I think they have a lot of possibilities, too.
This before-and-after photo show the silk crepe cloth I wove before and after dyeing. It took the dye much stronger than the other silks. The cotton flannel hardly took any color at all. I think it was darker because the threads were undegummed silk—silk organza is made of this type of silk. I clamped the middle to make the resist that formed the diamond in the center.
You can see my “dye pots”. Dying in my tiny kitchen(ette) in the retirement place where I live is a challenge. I found a chipped latte glass and glasses from Starbucks and The Oakville Grocery. That way I can keep them separate from the glasses I drink from. I heat water in the microwave and stir with a chop stick. This is perfect for the small scraps I want to use in a new boro piece. On the left is a solution with just the pulverized oak galls and galls. The right glass has just the solution of rust and lemon juice (and some water) and some rust before it was pulverized. Getting the rust was a lucky break for me. I told a friend I needed some and her son chipped off a jarful of it with 2 cups of gorgeous rust. When I pounded the rust into a powder it worked much better giving darker results. Rusty nails or steel wool is supposed to work for the rust. Taking the photos was a challenge. Bob, my photographer and web guru, had me lying on my stomach to shoot me pounding the oak galls.
Last weekend I bought this gorgeous blue scarf made by the artist, Jean Cacicedo of Berkeley, Ca. Then I couldn’t decide what to wear with it. I painted these samples to see what I liked and what I had in my closet. I love the yellow-green, but don’t own anything that color. The reds I have and found this red jacket. It’s much bolder than anything I usually wear so the color class is making an impression. I never really liked the red in the jacket until now that it has its blue scarf around the neck.
I’m taking a color class for ordinary people in an Osher Lifetime Learning class at Sonoma State. It’s mainly for people to be able to put colors together in their own lives–clothes, furnishings, etc. I’ve taken dozens of color classes and hoped this would help mesh all the rules I’ve learned. It has. The teacher is a quilter but she knows how to teach people who have no innate talent for color. Last week we talked about Intensity–and its two aspects. Saturation is how much dye there is (weak or strong) and also how “clean or dirty” the color is.
When everyone else in the world was watching the Super bowl I went to my studio and tried to paint light colors (unsaturated) as well as a little bit “muddy”–not kindergarten colors. It was fun. I found a page to copy in a book by Gunta Stolzl. It was a challenge to try to mix my paint to match her colors. You can see I didn’t get nearly light enough. Oh well, the next time. My next assignment to myself is to try different values of colors mixed with their complements. She didn’t use the word complements but said they were mixtures of the other 2 primaries. These should be neutrals or colors that are not easy to name.
A color wheel that was introduced to us in our guild program on Optical Mixing is the first one shown here. It is called the Magenta, Yellow, Cyan (turquoise) color system or color wheel and the one more suited for weavers. Our speaker told us it was better to use this one than the one we all learned and are familiar with which is the Red, Yellow, Blue system or color wheel (which is for mixing light). This is the second one shown here.
If you look at my previous post showing my own stash of colors, you won’t see anything like on either wheel. That’s because the color wheels show us intense colors. In real life, most of us don’t stick to only those intense colors—we darken, or lighten, or dull them, or mix them optically with other colors.
So, how do you use a color wheel if the colors aren’t what you like? The colors on the wheels are NAMED. That is what is important. You need to name the colors or read them first. For example, red and red-orange and red-purple are names of three colors (officially called hues). Then you can use the wheel for relationships of the hues to one another or to put together color harmonies. For example, harmonies might be hues that are opposite one another or beside each other on the wheel. THEN when you know the names of the hues you are looking for, you can “doctor” them us (so-to-speak) so they aren’t so intense and to my mind, more beautiful or interesting.
You can change a hue these ways:
Change the value,
Change the intensity
Change the temperature
One of my teachers, Cameron Taylor Brown, had us make different color wheels. We named the colors from the regular color wheel we were used to. Then made these: one color wheel with all the hues being light in value (pastels), one with all dark hues, one with duller hues, etc. You see, we named the hues but then made up color wheels (like pallets) with the same hues but changed in the ways I listed above: value, intensity and temperature. There were some I liked better than others. Using the yarns from one wheel makes your work look coordinated: to add punch, she suggested adding something from a completely different pallet (color wheel).
For our talk on Saturday about Optical Mixing, we will be talking about value. Threads that are of the same value will blend or mix.
One important thought: You don’t need to have all the colors in the wheel—just work with the ones you like or have.
Use what you like and used the color theory color when you are stuck.
My mentor, Helen Pope, always used to choose what ribbon for her pony tale by using a color that was one step from the opposite of the color of her outfit. In other words she used the harmony “split complementory”
I’ve been planning a little lesson for my weaving guild about color—especially optical mixing. I’m going to show color wheels we are used to seeing and talk about using yarns and threads that aren’t on the wheels, per se. That is, not the vibrant, intense colors you see but what I think are more beautiful colors. I’ll show how beautiful colors are made and how to use them, using the information on the color wheels.
Here is my color stash of sewing threads. I just picked spools of colors that I liked when visiting a shop in the garment district of Manhattan on several trips. I expected to mix them together and whenever possible I took colors with different dye lots. Variations in colors make them more beautiful, in my opinion.
A few weeks ago our guild had a speaker who explained the theory of optical mixing. When I got home, I noticed I’d been doing that without knowing it for a long time. I kept finding pieces that were examples of taking two colors and mixing them to form a third color. I was excited to see several examples so decided to do a study group after our next meeting to discuss optical mixing and show some examples.
I’m also going to talk a bit about using complementary colors. The table runner is woven of oranges and blues.
There is so much to learn about color theory that I get overwhelmed easily and not much sticks in my brain so I just want to talk about these two subjects.
This runner I wove for my mother-in-law but I knew she wouldn’t appreciate it so I never gave it to her. It’s one of my very favorite pieces. The linen fabric is thick because I put together the two warps from a previous double weave project into a single layer.
I ironed it hard with a rolling pin on a bread board while it was damp. I love the weight, the sheen, and the subtle colors.
The idea of putting two warps together as a single layer happened when I was sampling for making some table runners. I ran out of color combinations to try, so just wove the warps together for a warp face structure where the warp was completely hidden. It still made a thick cloth which I wanted and I loved the way the two warp colors mixed.
I made this post yesterday–but suddenly the blog software isn’t allowing me to post any images. You” have to imagine. I hope when I get back at the end of the week it will be fixed.
Here is the back of my loom–weights are holding the purple supplementary warp and also the selvedges. I’m sampling to see what the colors in the warp will be like and to see if I can get sheer again. The extra warp isn’t threaded in the heddles, but between every 8th warp thread. They are in the same position as floating selvedges–in the middle of the sheds. When I want the supplementary threads on the top, I shoot the shuttle under them. When I don’t want them to show, I put the shuttle over them. I learned this technique as “split broche.”
Here is my new warp–sewing thread–for some art pieces. More ruffles, probably. You can see the 10 spools that I used on my warping reel with a heck block. Otherwise, for 10 spools you would definitely need to use a paddle (which is a good idea). See my book, Winding a Warp & Using a Paddle). The warp is on its kitestick, ready to load the raddle.
I’m using sewing thread and hoping for sheer again. I increased the sett a bit from the yellow warp so I won’t have to beat so gently to get the wefts not to pack in too much.
I’m making separate selvedges out of white rayon and using a supplementary warp (egg plant color) for the punch. The technique for the supplementary warp I’ll use is split broche. The threads will not be in the heddles as they are threaded amongst the warp threads which on are 4 shafts. More on this when I get started. For now, you can see those threads on their own small kitestick.
I think I’ll put in some horse hair–I love the color of it.
I wove what I hoped would be a narrow band to be sort of a border separating parts of my wavy wefts cloth. I used white because that was what the warp is and it would blend in since a lot of white shows in the wavy wefts cloth. I forgot that light colors really advance and actually look larger than darker ones. I made my “border” 2 inches tall–it looked much wider. In fact it sticks out like a sore thumb.
What to do–it came near the beginning of my proposed hanging. Well, since the lam broke, it made me stop and think about it. I cut off what was woven and made narrow hems which look much better. In the illustration the wide border is a little rigged up, but it shows an inch of white. Originally the border was 2″ tall and really looked too big. But that lesson of light colors looking larger really came home to me.