Mat from Guatemala


I bought this cotton mat while in Guatemala, before I began weaving. I look at it now with different eyes. The design is weft floats, many of which are too long. But, the reason for posting it is the colors.

All are bright colors. The warp is black. The black separates the colors, either a row of black or a black outline. Things to think about. A cultural or design decision? What would be the effect of leaving the black out of the weft?



Hi 10ashus, I'm up for a challenge:) I'm only going to talk about color And design , not structure. First if you didn't have the black where it was , there wouldn't be much of a design ,it would not be as dynamic, intricate,  would have to substitute another color. So it might be interesting to think about what different colored plain weave (?) weft would do to those  bright weft floats. First, black intensifies colors , makes them brighter. White in most cases washes colors out. Grey tends to absorb color and give you almost the  complement of what's around it. For instance, I have a double weave piece I did, it has a gradation of red orange through yellow warp. When I wove with yellow the colors blended well ( analogous) however, when I switched the weft to medium value grey, most of the blocks look like variations of medium to light green.  For the piece above, a dark weft seems to be the answer, but black? I have found that there are many more interesting colors than black that give subtle nuances/ shifts to your other colors. Dark forest green, eggplant, dark, dark, brown, maroon, many of these colors are used instead of black for dark grounds. It takes experimentation and some color theory/ color wheel to know what to use where. Suggest warp stripe wrappings. Hope this helps! 


ps if you don't have a stash built up, do experiments with colored papers, pencils, pastels, water colors , to see how colors react. Of course, fibers react different than pigments, but you will still get a very good idea of what is going on. Remembering you have 2 elements, warp and weft to consider with color:)


I liked your suggestions on the rich, dark colors to use as an alternative to black.

I thought white would also intensify. Now that you mention it, I think of the kitchen towels. A white weft woven over a bright red warp stripe would dull the red. White next to another color would intensify; when interwoven with a deep color it creates a tint. Black intensifies; except when interwoven creates a shade of the color.


I'm thinking about your assessment of black.....I wasn't going to talk about structure but it's relevant. In a plain weave, I think you're right. A red weft interlacing a black warp, would look like a shade. ( I wonder what it would look like with eggplant warp!) but I think, if it starts to have any kind of float, simple twill, it will be brighter. Fewer interlacements.

great assessments though, also good questions ! Makes us think:)



Also, do you do needle weavings ? This is one of the tools I like to use. I get med. to heavy card stock , then use embroidery floss to do the color weavings. If you have a choice in color of card stock , grey is a great choice, white is good. I can check colors, proportions, even structure.  Of course the fibers are shiny, which intensifies color. ( reflection ) But if all the fibers are shiny , they will give you much information. Remember though, if you go to then do your project in unmercerized cotton or wool, the effects will not be as pronounced as the embroidery floss, because those fibers are matte ( absorb the light) .it just occurred to me you could also use embroidery wool/ cotton from the embroidery store. Not shiny.

texture and color, is another great area to study, so is proportion of color( how much yellow vs. how much purple)  

if you don't have Color and Fiber by Patricia Lambert, can't remember the second author, it's a college level textbook about color. Expensive but you most likely can get it from the library. Maybe used from Powells books, they have pretty good prices.( all these books add up!)  It's so good for teaching yourself in depth color, great photos, plus excercises in the back. 




Coffee anyone? I looked at Amazon, they have quite a few used copies at great prices, in case you're inclined:) no more posts today, I promise!


That is a beautiful ethnic textile - so alive!  I agree with Cathie that the black intensifies color, and that it makes the relatively big blocks of solid color really pop!  I had not thought about how white interacts with color, because I seldom use a real white.  I think I'm more of a deep saturated sort of person, shades not tints.

And Cathie, I'm really fascinated by your comments about an eggplant colored warp. Back home (I just arrived for 8d in Austin) I am setting up my 4-shaft loom with ... wait for it ... an eggplant-colored warp!  I will do a few inches of color play and report back, but likely not until the beginning of August. 

Color interactions are endlessly fascinating, aren't they? 


this photo of a color study since it illustrates the affect of different warp color choices. The one on the left was woven using weft that echoes the warp. The one on the right was woven using a black weft. I was hoping they still had an example of the warp woven with a white warp but it was already gone.


Excellent samplers in the photos. Shows me the importance of using the same threads, in this case the multi-color warp. It is easier to do a comparison by only changing one thing.

Designing. Am I on the right track?

In a balanced weave, with the same size fibers, you see equal amounts of warp and weft. If shaded colors is the goal, you could use black in warp or weft.

Using a thicker black fiber, would reduce the shaded color effect because you would no longer see the colors as blended.


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