Tags: classes, Make Your Colors Sing

I must apologize for having disappeared for awhile. I was teaching my course “Make Your Colors Sing” for the first time, and because I care ferociously about my students’ success, I spent most of the course intensely focused on giving the students the best possible experience. Thus, the radio silence.

And, if I may be allowed a little bragging, it paid off. In the post-course survey, 85% of the students rated the course 9 or 10 out of 10, and student after student said wonderful things about the course, like this:

I learned so much in this class, color in blended drafts have always been a challenge for me. Now instead of color choices being a struggle, I know the steps to take to make my projects pleasing to the eye. I had no idea it could be so easy.

– Brenda Gauvin-Chadwick

This class has totally changed the way I will approach my weaving projects, in so many ways. This is not your typical color theory class. This class teaches you how to use colors to achieve the effect you desire. It is one revelation after another. Along the way, you not only learn about using color, but about design and how these two interact. In 3 words: Take this class!

– Joy Pate

But words are much less fun than pictures, so I want to take you on a visual tour through part of the class, showing you some of our collective work. (I was typing “my students’ work, but that didn’t seem quite right: the class never felt like me lecturing a bunch of students, but more like a collective effort, something that we all put together as one giant community.)

Here’s a sampling of some of the things that we did together in the last few weeks.

In Week Four, Color Mixing, I did a lesson on color gradients, and Anneke Kersten took the concept and ran with it. She posted a photo in the class discussion group with sixty color gradients she had created in a systematic exploration of different combinations of hue, value, and saturation. Here’s one trio of her color gradients:

Color gradient draft by Anneke Kersten,  in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Color gradient draft by Anneke Kersten

Another student, Anne Gould, took the idea of color gradients and used it in one of my “Colorista Challenges” in Week Five. These are little color puzzles I include for more experienced students, or those who simply love playing with color.

This particular “Colorista Challenge” was about combining visual textures in the draft with color changes to create an effective design. Anne created a beautiful color gradient that complemented the stripes and patterning in the draft beautifully. Well done, Anne!

Week Five Colorista Challenge draft by Anne Gould, in Make Your Colors Sing class by Tien Chiu
Week Five Colorista Challenge draft by Anne Gould

Anne then took the idea of the color gradient into her towel design. In Make Your Colors Sing, each student was provided the drafts for two towels on the same warp, then designed the colors for and started weaving the towels. Warp stripe layouts were specified but the students could choose any colors and weft stripes they wanted.

Here’s one of the towel projects that Anne designed in Week Six:

Anne Gould's Project Two Towel Two draft, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Anne Gould’s Project Two Towel Two draft

Another student, Kate Friesen, also decided to explore color gradients on the same threading. She had to leave on a trip, but she wove this beautiful sample before leaving – I can’t wait to see what she does when she returns!

Sample for Kate Friesen's Project Two Towel One, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Sample for Kate Friesen’s Project Two Towel One

It was fascinating to see the many different interpretations that students created using the same draft. Below is Sheila Roberts’ creation, using the same draft as Anne’s towel. Here, she is using rhythmic stripes (which I taught about in Week Three) to create an intriguing design.

Draft for Sheila Roberts' Project Two Towel Two, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Sheila Roberts’ Project Two Towel Two design

Make Your Colors Sing wasn’t just about color, but also about design. One thing I taught was that you can make a pattern more irregular without confusing the eye, as long as the pattern follows a pattern with visual “logic” – for example, in Sheila’s towel above, the stripes get gradually bigger (and so do the spaces between them) as you move from top to bottom, giving a sense of organization to the piece.

Janene Driscoll used this sense of rhythm and underlying visual logic to put a subtle sense of orderliness into her towel design, which otherwise might have looked catastrophically complicated. The green lines alternate in a predictable rhythm and get progressively larger as they go towards the bottom, giving a great sense of movement without feeling totally chaotic.

Draft for Janene Driscoll's Project Three Towel Two, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Janene Driscoll’s Project Three Towel Two design

In a different twist on the same set of colors, Joy Pate solved a Colorista Challenge by demonstrating how lovely color changes in the ground cloth – warp and tabby weft – can be in an overshot piece.

Draft for Joy Pate's Colorista Challenge solution,, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Joy Pate’s Colorista Challenge solution

And then she presented another solution, only in the pattern weft and the ground cloth:

Draft for Joy Pate's Colorista Challenge solution, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
Another “Colorista Challenge” solution by Joy Pate

This has been a pretty lengthy tour, but I want to share just one more Colorista Challenge with you. This one was to take a rectangular grid-style draft (a draft with the potential for a great deal of complexity) and use it with multiple colors to create something interesting, but not chaotic.

Lana Holmes Holden rose beautifully to the challenge. Here’s the original draft:

Black and white version of Colorista Challenge draft, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
original Colorista Challenge draft

And here is Lana’s interpretation of the draft. Because it is quite different on front and back, I’ve shown you both sides.

Lana Holmes Holden's solution to the Colorista Challenge puzzle, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
“Colorista Challenge” solution draft by Lana Holmes Holden – front side
Back side of Lana Holmes Holden's Colorista Challenge solution, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu
“Colorista Challenge” solution draft by Lana Holmes Holden – back side

Isn’t it amazing how different it looks from the original draft? Lana has worked some serious magic here!

Finally, here is a beautiful draft that Anne Gould posted near the end of the course:

Anne Gould's Project Three draft, in Make Your Colors Sing color in weaving class by Tien Chiu

Anne, this is why I love to teach. You have totally made my day!

Wishing you (and everyone!) a lifetime of color empowerment,

P.S. I’ll be teaching Make Your Colors Sing again in early 2022! You can sign up here to be notified when registration opens.


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  1. I did not take the class this time and am glad that you shared some of the results. However, there is very little cloth to see. Although the designs are intriguing, I would prefer to see more finished work. Thanks.

    1. Hi Robin! Totally understand. The class is just now finishing, so students haven’t had a chance to weave their designs yet! As more projects are woven, I’ll post photos!

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