Thursday, September 1, 2011

Contrast and Compare

My instinct with colour is to blend and tone and mix it up with textural and surface finishes, rather than to look for contrast in either value or hue.

It turns out that many of the beaded beads and pendants and components I've been fooling with for the past few months or year or whatever, contrast makes them much more interesting, so it's been somewhat of an exercise in fighting the path of least resistance to get the best effect I can.

And honestly, I'll teach a class from time to time and be blown away by the wild contrasts and unexpectedly fabulous colour combinations.

Although I haven't participated in years, I decided to hang my shingle at the "Bead Art" show that my local bead store holds twice a year, and see if kits (and possibly patterns) do better than finished pieces, which tend to not be good sellers, as the show draws in people from the neighbourhood (who are looking for bargains. Cheap handmade stuff) or else other beaders (who would rather look at wares very carefully and then go inside and buy the beads to make the jewellery themselves). To that end, I thought I might wake up some old kits with new colour-ways.

One of my favourite colours in seed beads, is the Czech colour often called something like "Silk Dark Bronze AB", a delicious mix something like the patina on silver from liver of sulphur, or like the colours I've seen on copper which I think is done with electrical currents. Or something to that effect, if I recall correctly.

It's a colour that can move around the colour wheel, and my first thought was (perhaps in part because of its name) to put it with brassy, bronzey colours.
Too much contrast, and not in a good way. It's too stark, too harsh. Turns out a more blended, more monochromatic approach was far more effective in this seed bead only design.
Nothing is especially darker or lighter than anything else, and except for the very tiniest beads, have a large overlap in terms of colour. Purpley browny somewhat colour-shifting with either matte or shiny iridescence. Just like that liver of sulphur patina that will stop at one colour but present flashes and hints of something not quite the same that doesn't actually read as a contrast.

My favourite type of colour requires a few paragraphs to adequately describe it.

Mission accomplished.

And then I finished Yet Another knitted project, a version of (Ravelry link alert:) Norah Gaughan's Shell tank. I've said it before and I'll say it again: her designs are not only genius, they're gorgeous as well. Intellectual aesthetics. What could be better?

I used a silk and dralon (yes, dralon) blend that I picked up back in the decade of my fiber obsession on eBay (in the nineties). It was pretty intense, and actually, if I hadn't bought another skein of yarn or fleece or piece of roving since then (I have though), I'd still have had enough to last me into a very, very long retirement (which at this point in the economy makes me wonder if I'll ever get there).

On the other hand, I scored some very excellent bargains and got burned once only, and the seller deactivated her account before I could file an official complaint. On the other hand, if I'd put all that into college funds for my kids, I could impulsively get a new floor in the room where the cat peed even with two kids in college at the same time.

Make no mistake, I have neither regrets nor plans to give up my fibre stash or anything. It's very, very useful. Come the apocalypse and my kids and I are clothed and warm, though global warming may render that slightly less necessary than say, the next ice age, but who knows? Climate science really isn't my area of expertise, not that I claim to have one.

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