Here is a place we can compile favorite color theory resources\lessons plans, etc. Great suggestion. I am thinking about other possible ways of doing this better.


Posted on Mon, 04/18/2016 - 23:26

I've found that a lot of color theory can be summed up in three "rules":

  1. Colors that contrast (in hue, saturation, or value) tend to intensify each others' contrasting characteristics. So putting a bright (saturated) color next to a dull one will make the bright color look brighter and the dull one look duller. Putting a dark color next to a light color will make the dark darker and the light lighter. Putting a blue next to a green will cant the blue towards purple and the green towards yellow at the border, and putting yellow next to purple (its complement) will intensify both colors. So if you really want a bright orange to pop, surround it with a dark dull blue.
  2. Saturated colors and "warm" colors (red-orange, orange, yellow, yellow-green) advance, meaning they catch your eye and also seem closer, than cool colors (purple, blue, blue-green). Red and green can cant either way depending on whether they're yellow-leaning or blue-leaning. I saw a quilted piece with a blue gorilla head against a bright fuchsia background once; unfortunately, my eye kept being drawn to the fuchsia background because it was so much brighter/warmer, and so it took me almost a minute to realize it was a gorilla head!
  3. Contrast, particularly value (dark/light) contrast, draws the eye and also adds energy to a piece. One way to help establish the focal point is to make it contrast strongly with the background. A bright pink dot against a dull blue background will draw the eye naturally. Conversely, a royal blue dot against a light pink background will draw the eye. The more contrasts, the "busier" the piece. Good or bad? Depends on the visual effect you're trying to create. If you're after a quiet, meditative piece, use mostly low-contrast colors (preferably also dull colors) with maybe a tiny splash of a higher-contrast color to prevent it from being totally dull. If you want energy (think Fiestaware), use bright, contrasting colors.

There is of course a lot more to color theory than that (optical mixing is really important in weaving), but those are the three "rules" that I find most useful.

Posted on Mon, 04/18/2016 - 23:32

The Lunatic Fringe Tubular Spectrum colors are included in color palettes for PCW Fiberworks and Weave-it.  The Lunatic Fringee is also working on a spreadsheet with the RGB colors as a starting point that will be made available on their web-site.

I would be surprised if we don't have study group members and friends who have woven color gamps using Lunatic Fringe cotton.  Experiences to share?

Posted on Tue, 04/19/2016 - 14:24

I have a selected bibliography that I’ve used when teaching a class about color and tapestry.  I can post it here later when I get to my studio computer where my most of my teaching documents are saved.

Here are a few things that come to mind right now--

Kathe Todd-Hooker’s article in the American Tapestry Alliance website Educational Articles:

Betty Edwards (author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and also Drawing on the Artist Within) has a good book about color:  Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors.

Color and Fiber, by Patricia Lambert, Mary G. Fry, and Barbara Staepelaere is a phenomenal resource.

Also there’s Color Works by Deb Menz




Posted on Tue, 04/19/2016 - 15:33

I second the recommendation for the Chevreul book.  It teaches you when you might want to use more saturated colors (or less saturated colors).  It also explains irredescence. 

But, do remember that color studies are usually done with fully saturated colors.  These may not be the colors you want to weave with.  Yes, it is a learning experience, but if you don't want to use these colors for your weaving projects, design a color study that might fit your weaving.  I am a tapestry weaver and color studies are always helpful, no matter what colors you use.

You may want to make samples with the types of colors and yarns that you like to weave with.  This will teach you how you can weave with "your" colors.  You will find that they can dull out a little, so learning to use colors which are just a little brighter may be one thing that you will learn when weaving a balanced weave where the warp is one color and the weft is another.

This balanced weave with warp and weft of different colors is what is happening in the gamp.  But if you weave it in the crayola colors and you do not like weaving with these colors, you might try it with the colors you like.  You might learn more that you can apply to your next projects.





Posted on Tue, 04/19/2016 - 18:42

Here is a list of several of my favorite references for color.  This is from one of my class handouts.  I haven't checked the web links since putting the list together in 2014 so I hope all will still be correct.


Color and Tapestry--Selected Resources

Compiled by Tommye Scanlin


Aimone, Steven.  Design! A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists & Craftspeople. Lark Books, 2007.

Albers, Josef.  The Interaction of Color. New Haven, Conn.:  Yale University Press, 1963.

Albers, Josef.  The Interaction of Color. iPad App, available through iTunes Store.

Edwards, Betty.  Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors.  Tarcher, 2004.

Harlan, Calvin.  Vision and Invention: An Introduction to Art Fundamentals, 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1986.

Hornung, David.  Color: A Workshop for Artists and Designers, 2nd ed. London: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2012.

Itten, Johannes.  The Elements of Color. Wiley, 1970.

Itten, Johannes.  The Color Star. Wiley, 1986.

Kurtz, Carol.  Designing for Weaving: A Study Guide for Drafting, Design and Color, New York: Hastings House, 1981.

Lambert, Patricia; Staepelaere, Barbara; and Fry, Mary G.  Color and Fiber. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1986.

Menz, Deb.  Color Works: The Crafter’s Guide to Color.  Interweave Press, 2004.

Russell, Carol K.  Tapestry Handbook: The Next Generation.  Atglen, PA: Schiffer Pub. Ltd., 2007.

Todd-Hooker, Kathe.  Tapestry 101.  Albany, OR: Fine Fiber Press, 2007.

Selected Web Resources Marg Coe’s website


Posted on Sun, 08/07/2016 - 23:50

with Laura Bryant Is a video offered by

I was convinced to buy it by the fact it was focused on fiber arts. I had painted pictures and people loved my use of color; but, my thread combinations often disappointed me. In the first watching, I did understand more; however, I will need to watch it many more times to grasp everything taught.

I do recommend this video lecture be added to any resource list for weavers.

Posted on Tue, 11/15/2016 - 16:07

Barbara Walker, "Color: The WOW! Factor",, 26 July 2009,

The article explains how adding a complementary color can make a difference in your fabric. Includes how to select the color and how to use it; plus, what can go wrong.

Easy to understand lesson that beginners will especially find useful.