Friday, 29 July 2016

A Tale of Two Colours


Have you ever been asked 'What's your favourite colour?' As an interior designer I was asked that quite often, to which I would tactfully reply 'I love them all!'

Which was not strictly speaking true...I was harbouring a secret...a deep, dark colour loathing secret... As far as a colour that one wore on their person be it clothing, jewellery, footwear or handbag I loved all colours - but one...brown.

 Ask someone what their favourite colour is and no one will tell you its brown. In the early naughties when brown was the interior design colour de jour, we'd call it chocolate, coffee, umber, wood tone, tawny, hazel anything except for what it really was - brown. Lets face it - brown is boring, dependable, stodgy. As Winston Churchill (who can always be relied on for a good quote, even when it isn't his) said "I cannot pretend to feel impartial about colours. I rejoice with the brilliant ones and am genuinely sorry for the poor browns".

You can't really blame me though. In Australia, everyone wears a school uniform and my brown ban began in high school when I was burdened with the twin indignities of a brown, box pleat tunic. The school colours were brown and yellow - a truly heinous colour combination and if that wasn't bad enough compound that with a 'box pleat' which, as the name implies, made even the willowy-est of girls look like brown boxes. The other kids, safe in their ivory towers of navy and burgundy uniform superiority called us 'The Turds'. The humiliation! There wasn't enough therapy in the world to cure me of my loathing for brown.

Then I discovered seed beads and I loved all colours even more, and I made lots of beautiful wearable things in all the colours of the rainbow (even pink, a colour which I also never wear) except, of course, brown. Until I discovered Miyuki colour 458 - otherwise known as Metallic Brown Iris. This colour is better than therapy! This is a brown I can love. Firstly its metallic so it has to be good, it also has glorious iris flashes of violet and electric blue and its great if you need a really dark 'shadow' colour that won't deaden other colours around it like black can. I've used it in lots of pieces that I wouldn't call brown...

For example, in the pendant and chain (left) titled Incandescent, I wanted the entire piece to have an antique gold appearance which is quite bright in terms of its tone. I added just a scattering of the low key, dark 458 beads to contrast with the golds and create visual interest whilst still keeping it 'gold'.

For my 2014 Bead Dreams entry (right) called Through a Glass, Darkly I wanted the whole piece to be black but was worried all black beads would make it look flat and boring. Adding the 458 beads gave it a nice overall bronze sheen 
without changing the colour.

My new found appreciation for colour 458 made me open to the beauty found in other brown coloured things that I could use in my bead work, like smokey quartz and simbircite so I decided to go all the way and make a 'brown' piece. To ensure my monochrome piece didn't wind up too 'how now brown cow' I thought I'd try to incorporate a variety of textures with the use of the smokey quartz chips for their chunky, nugget like appearance and a random placement of beads inside the outline of leaves which created an almost dotted effect which I quite liked, throwing in some pops of colour with Swarovski's Scarabaeus Green and highlights of pyrite coloured seed beads. Here's the result:

I called it Skye because half way through making it I went travelling in the UK and when I came back the colours really reminded me of the colours of the landscape on the Isle of Skye. I like it. I think I can now truly say: I love ALL colours!