Sunday, June 16, 2013

Color My World

Color is, perhaps, the thing that primes my creativity pump more than any other.  When I am driving around the countryside for work (and I have done a lot of that over the past 29 years) and watching the days and seasons change, it is the color of the changes that I notice first:  the bright greens of spring, then the darker greens of the corn and beans and trees in the summer, the wildflowers by the side of the road, and the bare branches of trees against blue and gray skies.   I used to wish that I were a painter so I could capture those colors but now I try to take photos in my brain so I can remember then and try to translate them into quilts and other fiber art.

My eye is getting better at picking out individual colors, having used fabric prints to analyze constituent colors, but I can always use help in "capturing" and recording colors.  (Sadly, my color memory is pathetic.  I can lose the memory of a color when walking just 3 or 4 feet from a piece of fabric!)   I have been exploring some web tools and mobile apps to help me with that, and with discovering new palettes that appeal to me.  These are designed primarily for those who are doing web design work, but they serve fabric artists well, too.

Design Seeds has thousands of inspirational palettes that you can browse.  If I'm looking for a palette with a particular color of combination, I can often find at least a starting point here.  The palettes are pulled from photos so, in addition to inspiration, it's a good place to practice picking out constituent colors myself.    (It also allows you to pin a photo/palette to Pinterest, so you can build your own inspiration library that you can visit on your own Pinterest boards.)

Finding a tool that would let me pull a palette from my own photos took a little longer.  It's not that there aren't any number of tools on the web, it's a matter of finding one that gave me what I wanted.   Honestly, I thought it would be easier than it was.  Taking a photo that I took of bird's nest at my front door (sadly, Mom Robin must have been bothered by all my comings and goings, because she abandoned the nest) I plugged it into several color palette generators, and all but one missed the blue of the eggs entirely--and that was key piece of it for me.  In the end, I liked Color Palette FX; it pulled out all the colors, including the blue.  You can click on any one of the tools in the palette and it will give you the color name,  and the hex, rgb, and hsv values.


I can also export the photo and palette as a jpeg:

What web tool or app do you use for color inspiration or memory?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Designer Respect

It would be easy to think that designing patterns for pre-cuts would be easy, but that would be wrong.  Well, I suppose I should say that would be wrong in my case; there are undoubtedly designers out there for whom it comes naturally--my admiration for that is immense.

Designing has long been fun for me, but until recently I would design the quilt ahead of time, and buy or find the amount of fabric that the design called for.  Over the past few months, though, I have been challenged--by both myself and my LQS to design quilts using precuts.  I've worked with 5" and 10" squares, and 2-1/2" strips and that was...semi-difficult, but I was able to come up with designs that I quite liked.

Recently the LQS owners, however, challenged me to design something for fourteen fat-eights.  (I'm not a fan of Halloween, and these were Halloween fabrics, on top of it!)   They had cut more sets than they needed for kits and were looking another project for them.  I putzed around with design ideas in my head during lunch at work, during long drives for work, while sewing other quilts, while lying awake at 2:00 a.m. (Since I announced my retirement, though, I'm finding that I have less designing time at that hour!)   I was gently, kindly reminded yesterday that I had been given the challenge--Halloween is just around the corner, after all.   I had sketched some ideas on paper and fiddled around on EQ but nothing excited me enough to want to bother figuring out the details of how to do it with the fat eights.

Because that's where the REAL challenge comes in--how do you design something that fits what you have--you can't design something for which there won't be enough fabric but, on the other hand, you don't want something that will leave too much leftover fabric.   Because this is a Halloween quilt and, from a busy quilter's standpoint, there isn't much time to make a quilt so it shouldn't be too large or too difficult.

This morning, with a cup of hot Irish tea at hand and my mind relatively fresh I sat down with my laptop and tried to get myself into the mood for Halloween, which is not an easy thing for me!   Two designs that I tried at the beginning, and one that looked good in my head at 2:00 a.m., just didn't cut it.  From some unknown spot in my head (my Halloween muse?) popped a name:  "Hair on End."  And then a design started to form, and it was one that I liked from the beginning.  It morphed a bit but it ended up being very close to the first thought.  The name has changed a bit, to "Hair-Raising," but it is almost pieced now, later the same day.  The LQS likes it, so it will be ready soon.

Here's the thing about the design--I cold probably show it to someone in about 15 minutes.  Writing it down in a pattern?  Whew.   That will be a whole other challenge.  Wish me luck!

Now, when I look at patterns designed around precuts--prescribed sizes and number of pieces--I have an even greater respect for designers who do it so much better than I do; my hat's off to you, and thank you!