Two spinners messaged me today wanting to know about the hues of my sari silk slivers. That was a tough call because these recycled, carded silk threads seldom present as one solid block of colour, so I usually identify the colour family and then try to describe the multicolours of the secondary hue. For example, I started off calling this ‘Blue’, then ‘Royal Blue’, then ‘Blue/Red mix’ – but nothing adequately covered it.
The camera does lie! Trying to take good photographs of shimmering silk fibres on a dull winter’s day flatters nothing. Neither does harsh artificial light with its cast shadows and bleach out spots.
You could simply label these silk fibres as ‘multi-coloured‘ but that doesn’t help a spinner decide if these threads would blend with their chosen wool yarns to create a harmonious art batt or yarn. You can grab a colour glossary and meticulously describe every other colour strand by strand to give an honest account – but this does not capture the overall effect of how the colours make you feel. Simple terms like red and blue and green can’t convey the texture, tone and mood.
Van Gogh called them carmine, Cobalt and emerald in a letter to his brother Theo.
I dubbed this ‘Ocean mix’ because it reminds me of the turquoise and azures of Cornwall’s coast. I’m not even sure what that secondary colour is as it changes according to the time of day. I called it teal, but it could be light blue or even silver-grey. Oh heck!
Vincent van Gogh on colour
This silk fibre has a gorgeous green shimmer running through it, but a close up shows the mixture of background fibres to be mainly red. I placed it next to one of my handmade ceramic tiles containing rich red tulip, green stem and Cobalt blue edge. The red threads in the silk come forward to match the red of the tulip. Luckily the green shines out strong like an emerald.
I look at this… and I see Red! But, what do you see? How would you describe it accurately to someone elsewhere? I can see the blues, the greens, the golds – yet all I can feel is the lustrous vibrant red.
Fiesta is my favourite silk fibre!
I think this is pretty much perfect. I named it Fiesta. To call it a mixture of pink, blue, yellow and green didn’t cut it. I borrowed from the lexicon of gems with topaz, amber, blue sapphire, pink tourmaline, garnet red, lapis lazuli and rose quartz. I dipped into the spice box and found pink peppercorn, turmeric, nutmeg, saffron and green chili. It was all too much! It’s up to you. I’m going for a little lie down in a darkened room.