How To Quilt With Color
Color The Most Crucial Aspect Of Any Quilt
Color is one of the most
crucial aspects of any quilt. Working in
connection with fabric texture, these two
elements constitute a quilt's personal feeling
or story. But what exactly is the "story" of a
quilt, and how does color inform that
Creative quilter and all around artist Wendy
Nash lends insight into these questions.
Nash explains that she
always wants the colors of her quilts to open a
dialogue.She begins the process by laying all
her available colors out on a large table or
surface. Then she simply sees which ones
naturally accent the others. When colors are
particularly heightened and vibrant either on
their own or due to the relationship with
another color, she calls that "making the
colors sing." Needless to say, Nash wants her
quilts to sing.
Once she has established
which colors open up a desirable dialogue or
song, she builds the quilt around that idea.
Perhaps it's a deep purple trimmed with a soft
pastel peach. Perhaps its inky black accented
by shocking white. Whatever the colors, this is
Nash's starting point. She then proceeds to pin
these colors together and hang them in a
prominent place in her home. She simply tacks
them on a bulletin board and picks a place she
knows she'll walk by frequently. Nash calls
this stage of the process "living with the
colors." She gauges how the presence of the
colors affects her mood and feelings, and if
the evoked feeling is desirable, she proceeds
with her quilting project.
For Nash, color is a very
interactive part of the creative process. When
she's determining which colors to use, she
doesn't even solely rely on sight. Instead, she
brings in the more esoteric element of feeling.
According to her, the most important job of a
quilt is that it conveys certain feelings to
The interesting part of
quilting is that the particular feeling doesn't
have to be the same for every viewer. Each
person can interact with the colors and the
finished product in varying and different ways,
but so long as the experience is interactive
(opens up a dialogue between the viewer and the
piece) Nash feels she has created a successful
piece of art.
Colors can be such a rich
and rewarding part of a quilt. They lend so
much substance to an artistic project, and
color has that unique ability to evoke strong
emotions or remind us of important memories.
But there is an aspect of color that is both a
major benefit and a major drawback. It is the
quality of color which allows it to change so
easily with different lighting.
Firstly, the benefits of
this quality can be breathtaking. A quilt in
one light can look like an entirely new quilt
in another light. Even moving the quilt back
and forth in the same light can lend the piece
different shades nuances of the same color
scheme. This makes the finished product
incredibly versatile and interesting. It almost
takes on a human like personality, altering and
changing in different situations. This allows
for a piece with tremendous character.
However, the downside is
that very same quality. Because colors are so
susceptible to change, what looks pleasing in
one light can be very unattractive or
undesirable in another. Therefore, quilter
Wendy Nash suggests always picking out your
colors in a very well-lit room or area. If you
don't, you're only going to be surprised when
the product is finished. Perhaps that surprise
will be good; perhaps it won't. This is another
reason Nash suggests "living with the colors"
before you put the final product together. That
way you have a chance to see how the colors
interact with light and shadow at different
times of the day.
Nash even cautions against
buying fabric in different parts of the world.
For example, she once bought fabric in
However, when she returned home, the pieces
looked so drastically different. This disparity
was due to the fact that the light in Finland
is inherently different. (At differing times of
the year, Finland experiences days with
practically no sun and days with practically no
darkness.)The important thing is not to
understand how every color is going to behave
in every situation. It is merely that you as a
quilter understand that color possesses this
propensity to change and that you plan
Creative quilter Wendy Nash
always emphasizes the importance of color. She
preaches using varied and interesting colors
and always ensuring that those colors interact
in a meaningful and artistically significant
way. However, so much about color is personal.
If it weren't, everybody would immediately have
the same response to the often asked question
"what's your favorite color?"
So it is important to note
that the vast majority of colors carry
universal connotations. Black is almost
exclusively associated with the mysterious or
even dangerous, while white typically embodies
everything pure, clean and angelic. These are
feelings and emotions that the colors naturally
evoke. However, it is the personalized element
of color that is so important to keep in mind
when quilting. Everybody responds to colors
differently. Despite so many of these universal
connotations, it is still common that what one
person deems beautiful can conjure distasteful
emotions in another. This is especially
important if you are making a personalized or
custom quilt for a customer.
Therefore, make sure that customer is
absolutely involved when picking out a color
The second thing to keep in
mind is that personal tastes naturally change.
Whether it's just because you grow up or
because your preferences have altered for some
other reason, it's perfectly natural and
expected for colors to say different things to
you at different times. Understand that colors
have the ability to either stimulate or relax.
Make sure that in the moment you're creating a
quilt for somebody, the colors accomplish the
The last point is not to
fear experimentation. Some of the most
brilliant and unexpected color couplings have
resulted from simple trial and error. If you
place all your available scraps on a large
surface and simply start shuffling pieces
around, shocking and delightful pairings will
While color seems like a
fairly straightforward part of any artistic
project, it is actually very complex. Consider
the aforementioned suggestions and tips, and
you may truly surprise yourself with the
beautiful and personal work you create.
About the author:
Michelle is a quilting enthusiast who has
turner her hand to helping other quilting
enthusiast's make money from quilting.
Her free membership site http://creative-quilting.com
offers both quilting howto and quilting