Once a month, some of the members of the Starving Artists Team (see us on etsy.com and artfire.com) get together and write about the same topic on our blogs. This month, we
decided to talk about color in our work.
Most of my work so far is strung. Oh, I do some beadweaving and some metalwork, and dabble in polymer clay too, but what I really love about making jewelry is the endless shapes, sizes and, yes, colors of the beads. My bead collection is a heck of a lot bigger than my jewelry collection, largely because it is so much easier to buy them than it is to make something with them. Well, faster anyway. My eyes are bigger than my available time supports.
Whatever, the fact is that because the medium is simple, color – and texture – is paramount. What distinguishes my work from the next person’s is what I choose to put in it and how I put those elements together. Although I will produce one- or two-strand pieces to keep my prices affordable, what I really like to do is create multi-strand pieces. Five strands is probably the size I make mostoften when left to myself. With that many strands, I have to manage my color selections carefully. I use different beads for various strands, but they all have to work together in the finished piece.
Usually some particular bead takes my fancy. It might be a focal bead, or it might be a strand
of beads in a great new cut or color. Then I gather a variety of beads that I think might work with my inspiration piece. Unfortunately, this usually takes place in the bead store, as if I didn’t already have a large, varied (and costly) stash back in the studio. It’s okay, though, because when I actually sit down to make the piece, I frequently decide that this or that bead isn’t quite right, so I generally end up browsing through my stash anyway. Of course, I tend to get distracted by making up new combinations as I do so (doesn’t everyone?). I keep Ziploc bags on hand to toss potential future projects into, as a way to keep myself on track with the original project.
I work a couple of days a month at my local bead store, and the number one request for assistance I get is about color selection. It is obviously a tough topic for many. It comes naturally to me (or at least, I think it does), but I have also made something of a study of color theory in an effort to more clearly articulate how I arrive at the choices that I do. This is a work in progress, as I still tend to choose intuitively, without reference to color theory and I haven’t had the time to spend on analysis.
For my very first bead weaving class, we were asked to bring two or three colors to work with. I
brought shades of turquoise and an amber color. The instructor looked at them and said “I don’t know that I would ever have thought of putting those colors together”. Later (years later, really – I’m slow to catch on) I realized that was her way of politely saying that she thought the combination was hideous. Imagine her amazement when the shop assistant interrupted the class to ask me the color numbers of my seed beads. Seems a shopper saw what I was doing, loved it, and wanted to duplicate the colors for a piece of her own. That incident boosts my confidence when I am shaken by sudden doubts about one of my more unusual combinations. Someone out there is going to love it!
Read other Starving Artist Team member blogs at these links: