Saturday, March 9, 2013

Adventures 'round the colorwheel

Combining secondary colors is a great way to expand your color horizons.

The main secondary colors are violet (mixed from blue + red); orange (mixed from yellow and red); and green (mixed from blue and yellow).

Combining secondary hues will also give you colors that are more muted than the primary colors. This is because mixing fiber reactive dyes is a subtractive process. Every time you add a hue to your mix, more light is being absorbed or subtracted. So a mix of four pure colors (made from mixing two secondaries) will be significantly more muted than a pure primary or a secondary (two primaries). 

This is good to remember when you are looking for colors that are duller or have a lower chroma.

By dialing down the amount of dye you use at the same time, you can obtain colors that have both a lower chroma and a lower value.

Try combining your secondary colors in different ratios to see what you come up with. Major tertiaries are olive (green + orange), rust (orange + violet) and navy blue (green + violet), but you will find that by changing the ratios of your secondaries, you will get an interesting range within that color family. Easy ratios to mix are 90/10; 75/25; 50/50 and 25/75.

To make your dyeing life easier, mix up your solutions for each secondary in multiples of 10. That will make mixing your ratios simple. So, try mixing together 18 mL of violet with 2 mL of orange; 15 mL of violet with 5 mL of orange; 10 mL of violet with 10 mL of orange;  and so on.  Make sure to label your mixtures -- Rust A, Rust B, etc., so you can keep track of them.

Then weigh small swatches of fabric and dye your swatches in different depths of shade. Using a 5% solution, a 10 g swatch of fabric dyed at 4% depth of shade will require 8 mL of 5% solution; 2% depth of shade half that amount, 4 mL.  With 20 mL of 5% solution, you can dye four 10 g swatches in four depths of shade, a great way to see how each color might change as the value changes.  

Here are some hues I made recently using orange and green. I dyed these at a low depth of shade, because I wanted a really light, breezy effect that I think works especially well on linen. I'm calling this my air palette.  



Thanks for reading. As always, feel free to ask questions.

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