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Playing with Color Mixing

Playing with Color Mixing

I finally had a little time to play with color mixing wool. I don’t usually buy commercially dyed wool but I had some on hand that Patti from Dream Felt had given me when I was writing The Complete Photo Guide to Felting. The wool is Norwegian C1 batts and I had a variety of colors. One of the reasons that I like to dye my own wool is that much of the commercial wool is very saturated in color and therefore really bright. Most of my inspiration is from nature, I don’t see those saturated colors in my landscapes, trees, rocks, lichen etc. A lot of my inspiration is in colors that aren’t as bright and many varieties of one color such as a multitude of greens.

Mixing Color - Three Primaries

So these are the three “primary” colors I started with. I didn’t have a really true red, more of a magenta leaning towards red violet. The blue choices were either this slightly grayed blue or a blue leaning very much to the green side. So these are the colors I chose to mix a color wheel. I used an equal amount of each color and mixed them by hand and carding with hand carders.

Mixing Color - Color Wheel

Here is the resultant color wheel. Up close, you can still see the individual fiber colors but because your eyes tend to mix the colors, from a distance it looks more like a solid color.

Mixing Color - Close Up Color Wheel

If you look at the yellow-green, you can still see some blue bits in it. Norwegian C1 is a fairly short fiber with what seemed like little neps mixed in. So the colors didn’t blend together all that easily.

Mixing Color Two Different Greens from Different Blues

I wasn’t all that happy with the greens in my color wheel. So I thought I would try the blue that was almost blue-green and mix that with the yellow. You can see the two different blues on the top row. The two greens that resulted are below the blues.

Two Different Greens

Compared together, the green on the right looks more of a true middle range green to me. What about you?

Mixing Color - Light Green and Red/Magenta

I didn’t have any black or white to make tints and shades, so I thought I would try to “neutralize” some colors using their complement (the color on the opposite side of the color wheel). Here I started with light green and a bit of magenta. I used much less magenta than green.

Mixing Color - Mixed Light Green and Magenta

And here is the result on the left compared to the original green on the right. Do you think this would work in a landscape for spring trees? Would it look more natural than the solid light green on the right?

Mixing Color - Pink and Dark Olive Green

Then I thought I would try mixing the pink with a little dark olive-green. You can see I didn’t use very much.

Mixing Color - Mixed Pink and Dark Olive Green

And here is the new pink on the right compared to the original pink on the left. Which pink do you think would make a more natural skin tone?

Mixing Color - Blue and Orange

Next was orange and blue. I used a small amount of blue to mix into the orange.

Mixing Color - Mixed Blue and Orange

And here are the results with the mixed on the left and the original orange on the right. One of the things I have learned from reading books about painting is that if you want to paint a shadow, you should mix some of the original color of what is making the shadow with its complement. That gives you a darker, more neutral color of the original color for the shadow instead of using grey or black to make a shadow. So for example if you were making a wool painting with pumpkins and had used the orange on the right for the pumpkin, do you think the color on the left would make a nice shadow on the side of the pumpkin that was away from the light?

Mixing Color - Yellow and Purple

Here I mixed yellow with a light purple. Just a little purple into the yellow to get the color on the top left. Many times when you look at something, say a banana, your mind tells you that it’s yellow. Is a banana truly the color on the top right? Or perhaps it is a more neutral color like the one on the left. If you take a piece of paper and cut a square hole out of the middle, put the paper over the banana to isolate the color, then place your wool next to the open hole in the paper to compare colors, you will probably find that the banana is not as yellow as you think it might be. Different parts of the banana when isolated will be different yellows.

Mixing Color - Magenta and Dark Olive Green

Next I wanted to see if I could make a brown or grey by mixing two complements in equal amounts. So I tried the magenta and dark olive-green.

Mixing Color - Magenta and Dark Olive Green

Here’s the result. What color do you see in the middle? Brown?

I had fun mixing colors and hope you can see why it might be useful to know what wool colors look like when mixed together. I’m sure I must not be the only one that didn’t have the exact color that I needed when making a project. But if you know how to mix color, you can create the color you need by mixing the colors you do have to make an entirely new color.

Have you tried anything for the 1st quarter color challenge? We’d love to see what you’ve done over on the forum.





Dyeing a Color Wheel

Dyeing a Color Wheel

Usually, when I dye, I don’t have the patience to dye the full color wheel. I end up picking colors at random and mixing a variety of colors, usually ones that I neutralize. Then I either end up with threads or fiber that’s all in the same color range or colors that I probably won’t use ever.

Recently, my friend Carole gave me 60 skeins of #5 Perle cotton threads. What an amazing gift, thanks Carole! When I was considering dyeing the threads, I decided that since I had so many threads, I would try dyeing a color wheel. I already had the Procion MX Dyes mixed up and had all 12 colors of the color wheel mixed from turquoise, magenta and lemon yellow.

So I finally did it! I dyed the full color wheel. I had 5 skeins for each of the 12 colors. So what I decided to do was do the full strength color for a dark value, a half strength color for mid range value and a very watered down color for a pale value. Then for the other two skeins I added black to one to make a shade and I made a neutral color for the last skein by adding that colors complement. You find the complement of a color by looking on the opposite side of the color wheel. It took me all day to dye these threads and a few pieces of fabric but I’m pleased with the outcome. If I mix colors again, I think I need to add more blue to the blue-violet and more blue to the blue-green. The blue is the slowest of the dyes to set and attach to the fiber. Therefore, it seems you need a bit more than you think because the other dyes mixed in will attach to the fiber before the blue even starts.

Here’s a close up of some of the threads. Aren’t they delicious? Now the only problem is that I am so enamored with all the colors that I’m hesitant to use any of the threads because then I won’t have my full color wheel. I’m sure I’ll use them but for now I just like to admire them 🙂

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