Colour is often the first thing that attracts us to a piece of fiber art whether it is handspun yarn, a knitted item or a woven creation. Texture and pattern are fundamental to the overall design of a piece but if we are not attracted to the colour of the item we may never look close enough to appreciate the finer points. The photo to the left may look drap except for the bright gold center of the cone flowers but a closer examination would show curving lines of green, pink and dark purple in the background.
Even experienced weavers and spinners are continually exploring colour in their works.
Colour has special challenges for those that work with fiber and yarn. We cannot mix pure colours on a palette or obliterate an undesirable colour spot by painting over it. We work with dyed materials and have to content with variability including dye lot variation in commercially prepared yarns, natural dyes that have a high degree of variability or uneven take up in the dye bath you prepared yourself. Variability of colour is charming in some situations but it can be a disaster in other situations.
Weavers have to consider how the eye will see the colour resulting from the interaction of the warp colour with the weft colour. The products from a single warp may look quite different depending upon the colour of the weft thread. The structure will also play a role in the final colour as it can alter the relative amount of warp colour showing through the weft. Linda's four towels are a great example of how the weft material alters the final look. These four items are based on the same warp.
In the blanket, the lovely multicoloured warp is altered by the dyed blue weft and twill structure. The bright warp peaks through in places to give the piece greater depth.
Spinners come the closest to mixing paints when they blend fibers with a carder to achieve a final colour. They also have the ability to vary colour along the length of the yarn as they spin it and finally they have options to mix two different yarns when they ply them. They can also change the reflective properties of the yarn by adding fibers that shine or sparkle.
The reflective properties of the yarn will alter how the colour is viewed and given the right combination it can lead to iridescence as with this scarf woven with a painted bamboo warp. There are many variables to consider before you even begin to think about the overall colour design. It is no wonder that colour is a popular topic for workshops and study groups.
Earlier this year, Mary challenged us to explore colour by creating a single piece of weaving that has a minimum of 3 warp colours and a minimum of 3 weft colours. At our october meeting, she brought in an example, a double weave place mat with coloured "windows" and black "window panes". It has inspired us to start a group to study colour in weaving.