Friday, February 29, 2008


And when not to colour. Some years ago Maus had a note on the round robin pages talking about doily colours. She pointed out that a doily using dark and light colours can look really pretty and very dramatic but when you lay it down on a dark wood table the dark colours can blend into the background. Similarly the light colours can almost disappear if the table surface is a light colour. None of that matters if the doily is going to be framed. So for round robins it's important for the participants to know where the doily will finally be displayed.

Colour can make or break a doily. A doily that makes good use of negative space can be really beautiful and a designer may use colour to emphasize the design and make it really "pop". Think of a simple ring and chain edging. You can work it all in one colour or you can use one colour for rings and another for chains. Do the ring in red and the chain in green and you go from a ring and chain edging to a row of flowers. Similarly colour in a doily can be used to emphasize one element while another is subdued.

See this pink butterfly? The first one was done all in one colour and while you could tell it was a butterfly, it didn't really come to life until I changed the middle row of split rings to black. It separated both sides and defined the body of the butterfly.

Variegated threads can add a whole new dimension to tatting and the effects can be terrific or terrible. This is the same butterfly using both solid and variegated thread, but the placement of the light and dark sections of the thread was deliberate. The butterfly is made using 2 shuttles. One was wound with the solid blue that is a pale shade matching the palest colour of the variegated thread and the other shuttle was wound with the variegated thread. The darkest sections were used close to the butterfly body which is black just like the pink butterfly. The colour changes from dark to light as it works toward the outer edge of the butterfly wings. You might think that the whole butterfly was done in just variegated thread, but it wasn't.
Sometimes variegated thread can really add a wonderful dimension to tatting and sometimes it can completely ruin a beautiful design. In a doily where very effective use of negative space has been made so that shapes are evident within the design it is best to use a solid colour thread. A variegated thread will usually draw the eye to the colour and distract from the shape. In that instance colour and line would be at war with one another and neither win.
In a doily where the line and shape are simple and repetitive, variegated thread can break up the monotony and bring new life into the pattern. Long stretches of colour with gradual changes can make one effect on a design while another thread with short quick colour changes can bring a totally different effect. Sometimes the short quick changes can make a finished piece look choppy, but if the design warrants that kind of quick colour changes, it can be a very useful design tool.


Tattycat said...

Sharon, this is a nice post on colour - information that we can all use no matter how long we have been tatting. I love the butterflies by the way.

AngelDoll said...

I saw your beautiful blue butterfly and wondered if you do custom orders. You are very talented. If you do I could be contacted via my blog site or flikr account:
p.s. if you would be able to tell me where and if I could purchase a copy of the pattern for the butterfly. I do not tat but I have a friend in Australia who may try to make for me...thank you kindly for your time.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'd be very interested!

BJ said...

While at UC Davis, in the Graphic Design program; I had a Color Theory workshop that lasted 3 days of intense study and producing studio pieces. Color became 'in my face' after that experience. Each student had visceral reactions to color and space. The gestalt of seeing and color is a fascinating subject and one that tatters can benefit from learning about. So thank you for bringing it into the light.
Lately, I bought a HDT from Pamela Meyers called Rainbow Bright. It is the happiest color. I used it to make a Tumbling Snowflake and for the first time enjoyed making a snowflake. We have learned that scent has an effect on our moods and color works the same 'magic'.
Sharon, you have given a wonderful service to those who design for tatters.

Sharon said...

I felt the need to make the comments on colour both because of the round robins and because so many people have been jumping on the HDT bandwagon. Some laces just don't look good in multiple shades and a lot of the newer tatters may use the beautiful threads on inappropriate designs and blame their skills for an inferior piece of work. The best pieces are an artful blend of pattern and colour which sometimes takes practice to recognize.