Archive for the 'Colour' Category

Skills building

A non-creative obligation took a lot of my time through November. I decided to use what making time there was on focused building of specific skills.

Hélène Jeanclaude – Madras cotton technique

Hélène has shared quite a few videos on youtube, plus she has some PDFs of specific techniques for sale. One effect I really like is her “madras cotton”. Straight to results, used in a bangle of hollow beads.

Dan Cormier – Relief Beyond Belief

Dan’s on-line book Relief Beyond Belief is a detailed presentation on silhouette dieforming, including bead design, construction, and finishing. My immediate goal was the ability to create my own forms, rather than using existing bowls etc to support clay in forming and baking. For that I focused on the earlier sections of the course. The initial experiment used one of Dan’s templates, then a regular form of my own for the bangle above.

It was quite straight-forward to create a template and move to a small irregular form, as pictured on the left.

Next was going up in scale.

Form made from a postal box
Base made – shown prior to baking
Veneer made using Madras technique layered onto baked base.
Colours based on kookaburras on our back deck. I was aiming for a neutral palette, but my hints of blues and orange (from wing and tail feathers), only 3 of 11 colours, took over visually.
The baked … let’s call it a tray form … is about 21 x 12.5 cm.
Edges still to be finished.

Dan’s course has some great information on finishing techniques, but at the moment such refinement isn’t a priority for me. What I’ve shown above provides enough enticing leads for the moment.


Cathie in the creative group circled an area towards the top left of the photo of the Madras tray – particularly liking one of the few surviving neutral areas. I took it as a challenge (of the positive, growth-producing kind). Could I make something using only the four “Cathie’s neutrals”?

It just doesn’t make my heart sing.

Perhaps something in between. Three Cathie neutrals plus one colour zing.

Top – original “kookaburra” colours – 11 colours in total
Centre, bottom row – Cathie’s neutral. 1 dark, 2 medium, 1 light
Left, bottom row – blue replaces 1 medium neutral
Right, bottom row – orange replaces light neutral

In my eyes bottom right is the least appealing. The loss of the light neutral dulls the whole. The other two simplified schemes are fine, but the original dish is my personal favourite. There are quite a few process variables available to play with – I suspect Hélène’s madras technique will reappear quite frequently. And probably more neutrals…

Extruder, stamping

A start was made on a systematic review of shapes produced by the various extruder dies. Quite a few seem to be sized so they can be used together to build up patterns. The review has been paused for the moment. I’m still using Kato clay, made a bit more supple with the addition of liquid clay, but still too difficult to work with using the extruder especially during a very cool start to summer.

It was fun to use the baked clay as stamps, as a first step in thinking about pattern combinations. I plan to get back to this. The only extension so far was to take an impression in clay of the incised design on a large pot I have, then use the baked impression as a stamp.

Text and graphic marks

Next I used some of the 3D text from the Wildly Constant experiment (22-Mar-2021).

Impression of 3D text pressed into clay
Thin dark top layer pressed into clay with 3D text, then top shaved back.

I also bought SaffronAddict’s Jungle Flowers tutorial.

Very early results, still unbaked, using marks suggested by SaffronAddict plus some more 3D text impressions. A lot of promise here.

The space between orange and turquoise

I’ve been using kato clay, a brand specifically encouraging colour mixing with 8 “spectral” colours and a detailed colour mixing page ( But that only circles the colour chart. I love the colours in between as well.

With my first packs I made colour chips of blends with white and black for each colour. It took a little longer, but I now have a set of samples for every pair of colours. For each pair three strips – 100% colour, adding in half as much white, and adding in the same amount of white.

28 pairs mixed with the same amount of white.

If I want green, I could start with the clay labelled green
or the olive green hidden between yellow and black
or yellow mixed with greens or blues

just the beginning of greens

or I can start being a bit more adventurous. In fact the “green” clay turns out to be a very exciting mixer.

some of the green mixes

Green and magenta looks pretty. For each of the light strips I have the same colour pairs with 50% and zero white.

green and magenta

They are a great head-start when trying for a particular colour.

The “Skinner method” (named after the woman who developed and shared it) is a core polymer clay technique. As well as making the colour reference chips I used some of my results when attempting some kaleidoscope cane building.

These are enormous fun, created in a very free and exploratory way. Each set shown above uses just a pair of colours plus white. These are based on videos from Fiona Abel-Smith and Teresa Pandora Salgado.

On an aside, the power of the reflection/mirroring of the kaleidoscope and the pattern-finding of the human eye is amazing. I gave my husband a little clay demo, talking and fairly randomly grabbing scraps on the worktable. The end result:

Yellow and violet were used in a tutorial from Alice Stroppel

Purple and violet
Blend in progress
cane pretty much done

Actually that colour mix was a blast from the past – some silk thread dyeing ten years ago (27-Jan-2011 and on, concluding with final gamp shawl 20-Feb-2011)

A lot of the experiments remain in cane form, with just a few slices taken to make the kaleidoscopes, however I did have some fun combining an earlier Alice Stroppel experiment with some basketry techniques. The central clay medallion was baked with wires already in place.

OK, full disclosure – some earrings appeared too.

Leftover clay from pair mixing blends was used to make a cover for my latest research notes.

The research is around poignant / evocative and objects / things / stuff / sculpture… so I found it amusing to make the folder/holder of readings and notes into an object in its own right. (obvious future making note is to consider shrinkage).

Back to colour exploration, I should have mentioned making a series of chips showing values from white to black.

samples ready for baking in the oven

For that I somewhat laboriously cut out multiple squares.

In most mixing I’ve used the cutter while developing a colour, but when replicating in bulk a mix that was 1 part Turquoise, 32 parts Orange, 48 parts White and 16 parts Yellow I baulked. Happily the graph paper under my glass allows for more efficient cutting of sheets of clay. A 4 x 12 cm rectangle of white takes a matter of moments to cut.

That mix recipe neatly segues to my title topic. The beautiful space between orange and turquoise. It’s dawn or sunset, not mud.

A raw patchwork clump

became a beautiful little dish, about 7 cm across.

There are plans and experiments for making it into some other things,

possibly in combination with a cane made of leftovers, based on Alice Stroppel’s signature method

But I got distracted by a Clay Zoo tutorial (making a tree leaf necklace) using colours in this space, but with some very clever techniques along the way. One is the use of 3 colours in the blending, which has the effect of emphasising the turquoise end and reducing the oranges. The second is creating a leaf cane with colours changing down through it, meaning thick slices cut give leaves of different colours in the final cane.

This meant I needed to revisit my blend samples to get more precise mix ratios for my start colours.

The numbers are drawn into the clay before baking, and index to my colour mixing note recipe book. Across the top is a controlled set of mixing steps, at the bottom, the colours I eventually used.

Yesterday’s end-of-day results


Restless Knitter mentioned seeing what I’m going to do with the dyed yarns. Hmm. Yes. Well…

There isn’t A Plan as such. It’s more swirling possibilities. I like this part where anything is possible, and all the possibilities wonderful. I know I want to learn more about colour, and to me it makes sense to focus on that and keep with a structure in which I have at least some experience.  Blog reading provides lots of inspiration/aspiration (note: “inspiration” doesn’t mean these are the only people doing such work. They are weavers I admire, whose blogs I follow, and who have shown items that have stuck in my mind):

  • Painted warp

    Maybe select some colours for warp stripes, dye/paint  other stripes of warp using the same (? or other) colours. Inspired by Bonnie Tarses. Relevant experience from warp painting with Linda Coffil (although that was warp-faced plain weave, not what I want now since I’m interested in colour interaction between warp and weft).

  • Painted warp plus supplementary threads

    Add complexity to plain weave with different texture threads. Inspired by Daryl Lancaster. Relevant experience another warp created in Linda’s workshop. Clearly I’m in pre-school and Daryl post-graduate in this.

  • Huck lace

    Colour interaction in lace. Inspired by Cally Booker. Relevant experience scarves in huck lace and my swedish lace sampler.

  • "Freestyle rosepath" runner

    A mix of plainweave and rosepath with areas on inlay. Inspired by Susan Johnson. Relevant experience my various experiments with “freestyle rosepath”.

  • double weave

    Double weave. I don’t have a specific inspiration, but relevant experience was the scarf done in Liz Calnan’s class.

  • 8 shaft colour & weave

    Colour and weave. Inspired by Meg Nakagawa. Relevant experience:  samplers on 4 shafts and 8 shafts.

No decision as yet, although this review has helped me focus on the need to give myself the opportunity to learn. The sophisticated work of experienced weavers can be inspirational/aspirational, but they have invested in and built their skills. I need to do the same – build the colour knowledge I want before I try to apply it.

Swedish lace sampler

At this point I’m leaning towards a lace sampler. Having experimented with mixing colours when dyeing, it would be interesting to see the same colours mixed optically in warp and weft. From what I’ve read/heard/seen I’d expect a red warp/yellow weft combination to give a more lively or complex visual effect than using orange warp and weft which happen to be based on the same red and yellow dyes. A layout like the sampler would give me areas of plain weave and lace (not necessarily swedish lace), and a colour gamp arrangement would give a lot of information. The dyeing triangle I’ve just finished (should have a photo tomorrow) really excites me. Ideas percolating….

Colour assignments 3 & 4

I’m continuing with the colour exercises, but have been thinking more about how these can be interpreted in weaving terms. The plain weave (or perhaps I should see them as blocks) I’m using on the assignments brings a lot of constraints.  Of course there’s surface design after weaving – a few well placed stitches or maybe experiment with patches.

I found a quote from Sharon Alderman, from a Weavezine podcast:

“…painters, if they want a little dot of crimson right there on the canvas, they just put it there. But if I don’t want it to appear in the warp direction and in the weft direction, I have to be ingenious to make it happen.

“And there are things that are different about weaving from others. Now, having said that, colour theory is colour theory no matter what your medium is, but the way that you handle getting the harmonies that you want is different for a weaver.
“The pointillists were trying to duplicate nature by making little dots of colour. Because when they looked at things closely, they saw the colours weren’t flat, that they were made of many, many colours.
“Well, that’s something that weavers can do better than anybody because if you use small threads you can have variety of colours and make a new colour by crossing one with another that is richer and seems to have more depth than what a painter can do.”
There’s another interview with Michael Rohde, which seems in my current state of mind to be all about colour.
I’d been thinking about the possibilities of double weave, then saw this piece by Elisabeth Hill. A few ends of a different colour has such an impact!
Is it wonderful or daunting, the way the world of weaving keep getting bigger?  Some days I just enjoy the wonder of it all, knowing I see and understand just a small part. Other days I focus down on my little corner and say “this is enough for me for now”.

Assignment 3 in David Hornung’s colour – a workshop for artists and designers is prismatic studies. “Prismatic” colours are high saturation, pure hues. I had mixed success.

prismatic, wide range of hue and value

Prismatic, narrow value range (high key)

Prismatic, narrow value range

Failed!! attempt at prismatic low key values

The major problem is the low-key violets. Dull, dull, dull! However not unexpected or unusual – in the book Hornung comments that mixed “pure” violets will always be disappointing. However, he recommends that despite this one should stick to mixing in the first four studies of the course. Ever obedient (hah!) I mixed, but have bought commercial violets and turquoise for the the later studies. The Lanaset dyes I use have particularly gorgeous violet and turquoise, and there’s no point learning about colour with that gaping hole.

Assignment 4 asks for Combined Saturation Studies.

Broad range of saturation, hues and values

On review I could have included something with stronger saturation.

Broad range of saturation and hue, narrow value range

Plus an extra for fun, since I often don’t like the studies I’m producing.

Broad range of saturation, hue and value

Assignment 1
Assignment 2

Colour Assignment 2

Assignment 2 in David Hornung’s colour – a workshop for artists and designers
is muted colour studies. The first study should show a broad range of hue and value. The second study a broad range of hue and a narrow value range. Here are my attempts:

muted colours, broad range of hue and value

muted colours, wide range of hues, narrow range of values

muted colours, wide range of hues, narrow range of values

I’ve continued mixing and preparing colour swatches for the strips but still need to do lots more.  I decided to go to 6 strips wide and deep which means 12 different colours for each study. I didn’t have enough to really narrow the value ranges.

Previously: Assignment 1

Weaving resolutions

Executive summary: lots of rambling thoughts about learning and goals, and a few photos of colour at the end. Not really general interest. Skim or skip as suits!

I don’t do new year resolutions. I actively and deliberately avoid them. And yet …

I’m emerging from a period of change and stress, am looking forward to more time and energy for textile pursuits, have a week off work, and “just naturally” started jotting down some ideas on where to focus next. Then I read this post from Sue at Life Looms Large. Drat and double drat! By random accident of the calendar (or so, still in denial, I tell myself), I have New Year’s Weaving Resolutions.

Maybe. I’m not totally convinced yet.

The question is, as a 2-and-a-bit year old weaver am I at a skimming the surface/general orientation/basic skill building stage? There’s an argument to deepen as well as widen skill and knowledge. I have a feeling of urgency and I can’t keep calling myself a beginner forever. I don’t want to be a dilettante, a dabler.

And yet… I’m not ready and I don’t want to specialise.  Yet. I’ve decided (provisionally) to aim at ongoing broad exploration and gradual deepening of a number of areas, but no intensive study and focus.

  • Colour. I’ve restarted the exercises in colour – a workshop for artists and designers by David Hornung (first start was last October), with a slight variation to make it more weaving related.
  • Weaving learning. Attempt a wide range of structures in continuing classes with Liz Calnan at the NSW Guild plus catchup samples on previous class work. No particular yarn focus, no exploring variations, just what is required to get a taste, an inkling of the possibilities.
  • Other weaving. Some bits and pieces planned and some un-christmas presents (this christmas I asked what people might enjoy receiving before next christmas.)
  • Reading. The Primary Structures of Fabrics by Irene Emery arrived in the post today. I have a habit of buying more books than I read and I think it will take some discipline – but this I want to read.

So overall, continued general skill building. I have a couple of other classes booked – in January 2 days with Linda Coffil dyeing painted warps, in April 5 days with Kay Faulkner “Imagery in woven fabric”. Apart from that I will allow myself to get distracted and sidetracked. Serious, systematic study and in-depth exploration will wait (sorry chenille).

These aren’t really new year plans because I’ve already started working through David Hornung’s book. The slight change mentioned above is that where the exercises specify “make a small gouache painting or painted-paper collage…” I’m attempting mini paper weavings.

Over the past few days I’ve had a lot of fun mixing paints and painting rectangles of paper in literally hundreds of colours. The photo shows a couple of rectangles where I tried to match colours of some cottolin yarn (the dark green is a better match in life than the photo shows). The paper weaving result is meant to simulate to some extent the visual effect of the actual weaving (swedish lace, blogged here). Not a good predictor of an actual outcome, but I think a technique useful for learning purposes. At some stage I might try scanning things in, then changing scale and copying to see if that looks any more fabric-like. Probably not – paint and paper is so flat.

These are assignment 1 – chromatic gray studies. The book categorises levels of saturation in a way I haven’t met before – prismatic colour, muted colour, chromatic gray, achromatic gray. I’m having difficulty with the muted colour | chromatic gray divide. I think I need to mix a heap more colours!

There are 16 assignments in all plus free studies, so one per week should take me until April. That’s if these New Year Resolutions (shudder!) last longer than most!


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