Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ten on Tuesday: ten places to find color inspiration

Most of us have certain color combinations that we're particularly drawn to. For whatever reason, we find ourselves repeating them again and again. There's certainly nothing wrong with that, but every now and then, it's nice to expand our horizons and try something new. If you've found yourself in a bit of a rut, color-wise, today's list of ten is for you.

Ten on Tuesday: Ten Places to Find Color Inspiration

1. Nature
It's the original source. Take a quick stroll-- or a long hike!-- and stop every so often to just look. So often, we're too busy getting where we need to be that we don't take the time to see the world around us. Absorb some of the colors. Take notes of what you like, or better yet, snap a photo. If you live in a city and can't make it to a park, you can still find new color ideas by focusing on the hues of the city around you. Buildings-- window displays-- the unusual fashion choices of that girl who just walked past you: all are opportunities to be inspired.

2. Your closet
Say the weather's miserable (like it's been here for the past day or so). You don't really want to be wandering the countryside in search of color today. Well, take a peak into your closet, instead. This is a trick interior designers suggest for finding colors in your comfort zone. The colors you wear are probably the colors you're most at ease around, so they're natural choices for wall colors, etc. Of course, this may mean that you'll see the same color combinations you've been using over and over again in your polymer clay work-- the ones you're trying to take a break from. If so, then it's time to move on to the next suggestion. . .

3. Fashion magazines / catalogs
(Or any magazines, really.) Maybe you noticed, while peeking in the closet, that you need a few new items for your winter wardrobe. In that case, you can tackle two tasks at once. ;o) Any magazine or catalog that is more photos than text is a great place to browse for new color combinations. Those that feature fashionable "ensembles" or carefully decorated rooms are especially useful, since we know that color-savvy designers put them together. If you're not yet confident in your own color sense, you can rest assured that at least someone thought these colors went well together. (g) Bookmark the ones you like-- or tear out the page and put it into a "color/design inspiration" binder that you can refer to as needed. (You can also look at Internet-based catalogs with a similar goal in mind.)

4. Shopping
Internet-/catalog-shopping not your thing? (I like to look, but I'd really rather see things in person, myself.) The next time you take a shopping trip, keep colors in mind, too. This article on Crafty Places, while focusing on scrapbooking, has suggestions that can be useful for clayers, too. Silk floral arrangements and the bedding department provided two sources of inspiration for the author, and the possibilities don't end there. Browse a fabric shop for pretty prints or the interesting juxtaposition of bold solids. Look more closely at the colors used in the china, glassware, and pottery aisles. Even the packaging of products can spark a new idea. Take note of anything that grabs your eye. Shopping with a friend can also be helpful. Notice what s/he gravitates toward. You may tend to overlook things in favor of your tried-and-true colors, so let your friend be another pair of eyes for you.

5. Paper
Are you a paper addict? Scrapbookers, bookbinders, origami artists and others share a fascination for paper. Many of us have a nice stock built up. Take half an hour to page through your collection. Patterned paper can be an instant inspiration-- or spread out several solid colors, layering them in different ways and taking note of the combinations that catch your eye. (It's often easier to know that we like when we see it, rather than visualizing it beforehand.) If you have some scraps to spare, paste them into that inspiration binder I mentioned before.

6. Works of Art
The masters of the art world have this color thing down pat, so why not look to them for inspiration? Of course we can look at the colors polymer clay artists use, but there's no reason to limit ourselves to just polymer clay art. Glass, pottery, paint, metal, quilts-- whatever medium you like can awaken you to new possibilities in color combinations. There are photographs to be viewed for free online, or if you prefer, you can buy or borrow books of photos of works of art. Remember that you needn't use all the colors in a work. You can narrow it down to the two, three, or four most dominant colors, to simplify things. (Here's an entry on COLOURlovers that offers several examples of color schemes drawn from paintings, if you need help.)

7. Color Blogs
The blog I linked to in item #6-- COLOURlovers-- is just one example of a "color blog". (Check out this entry on Hallowe'en colors!) There are lots of color fanatics out there, and many of these folks are quite generous with their color schemes (or "palettes"). Browse them until you find one you like. And don't forget that you can tweak them to suit your tastes. Drop, add, shift the colors as needed. There are a few other cool features on this page, too, in addition to the blog, including color trends, discussions, and a color/palette search function. What a neat, fun resource! I'm sure there are other similarly great blogs out there, too, just waiting to be found.

8. Color Scheme Websites
There are a variety of color scheme-generating websites out there, but I'm going to play favorites and focus on one in particular. (Hey, my husband designed it-- and is still working on it-- and I know which side my bread's buttered on. (g)) This site-- http://www.colorsontheweb.com/-- offers a few different ways to find color combos, in addition to info on color theory and terminology. See reader-submitted color schemes (and grade them or submit your own) in the "Color Schemes" section. Spin the Color Wheel to get random color combinations. (If you like one or two colors, but not all of them, you can keep the ones you like and keep spinning until you hit a combo that is thoroughly satisfying. You can also see how the colors work together in a sample bit of web design. You can even decide which color takes each position in the sample.) Finally, use the Color Wizard to submit your own color (enter a hex code, adjust the RGB sliders to find your perfect color, or randomize the whole thing) and instantly get colors that coordinate with it. Scroll down and select different types of color schemes (i.e. analogous, complimentary, split complimentary, etc.) to see several options. Click any of the hue, saturation, or tint/shade variations to instantly reset the base color. Play around with it and see what you come up with. If you'd like to see some other color tools online, you have only to make a quick search.

9. Color Scheme Books
If you prefer a book to a computer monitor, you can look in your local library or bookstore for books of color schemes. These fall into a variety of categories, so be sure to look around. You'll find books full of color combinations designed for use in crafts, graphic design, web design, house decorating, and so on. They're all fair game! (You can also find a more limited selection of color schemes in or near the pain chip section of home improvement stores. If you have a fascination for paint chips, you might find BEHR's website interesting. The "Explore Color" feature is pretty neat.)

10. Photos (Flickr, Photobucket, etc.)
In the past, I've linked to photos from Flickr to illustrate color combinations I like. Well, you can do the reverse, too. Browse the photos at Flickr (or your photo-hosting website of choice), looking for something that grabs you. There are many, many groups and pools of photos at Flickr-- in addition to the search function-- so it's fairly easy to start your search. When you find a photo with colors that speak to you, it's as simple as deciding which are the most "important" colors in the photo. If you need some help with this, there are some handy tools that take all the guesswork out of it. Copy the URL of the photo you'd like to "decode". (The URL must end in ".jpg", ".gif", etc. If you're trying to find the URL for a photo at Flickr, click on "All Sizes", above the photo, then scroll down to locate the URL near the bottom of the page.) Go to Color Palette Generator (or Color Hunter, which is very similar). Paste in the URL, hit the magic button, and up pops the photo and the coordinating color scheme (complete with hex codes, if you're into that kind of thing (g)). You can also use the Palette Generator at Big Huge Labs, which gives you more colors per photo than the other two programs do. This tool also provides a way to quickly and easily browse the photos in your Flickr or Photobucket without working in another tab or window.

Here's an example, the result of submitting one of my photos to the Palette Generator:

With so many color combinations to discover-- and work into polymer clay designs!-- and so little time, what are you doing here, still?! ;o)


blueskies said...

Hello! I've seen that you make polymer clay food charms~they're wonderful! I'm currently experimenting with making charms myself and one problem I've encountered is the eyepins falling out when I pull them. I like my charms/pendants to be very sturdy, so that when you yank on the eyepin it will not come out( this is especially important when making zipper pulls). How I glue the eyepin is: I pull the eyepin out of the cured charm, dip it in glue, and put it back into the charm to dry. I've tried TLS (and baked it in of course)-no good. I've tried various glues-everyone says E6000 is great, but I've tried that...and it just doesn't work for such small things as an eyepin into clay- the glue is very weak. Superglue is pretty sturdy but can get pretty messy. Krazy glue is the best but one problem is that it "frosts" the cured clay, especially darker colored clays-and I've heard that krazy/super glues can become brittle over time and break! I was wondering which glues do you use for your charms that you have found to be effective or if you have any suggestion for glues? Thanks!

Michael said...

It sounds like you've done quite a bit of experimentation and research. (More than I've done, probably. (g))

From what I've heard about E6000, you have to be careful to use enough that you don't have a "starved bond". The tiny bit that you need to glue an eye-pin in place may not be enough. Maybe that's why it's proven to be weak when you've tried it.

I haven't tried Krazy glue... I've tried using 2-part epoxy glues for pin-backs, but never for charms. Just seems too messy.

Right now, I'm using simple super glue for my charms and pendants. It seems to work ok-- so far. Like you say, it can be messy. I just have to take my time and be careful. Every so often, I do end up getting some on at least one fingertip. So far, no disasters with charms glued to myself, though. ;o) As for its durability-- no problems that I've heard of. However, I don't think anyone's used my charms as zipper pulls.

To improve the "mess factor"-- I've heard that Loctite brand super glue offers one type that has an applicator brush. I haven't tried it, but I know some people like it. I use the regular tube type-- no specific brand-- and apply it either directly from the tube or with the tip of a pin.

Probably the sturdiest solution would be to make some sort of mechanical connection-- use an eye pin that has a loop in both ends or some other alteration that makes it physically impossible for the pin to come out (short of breaking the entire charm). Unfortunately, that can be a bit difficult to get into the charm without distortion.

Have you tried looking at this page of GlassAttic? http://www.glassattic.com/polymer/glues-Diluent.htm

There's quite a bit of information there on a number of glues.

Good luck in your quest for the perfect glue! I'm still looking, too. ;o)

blueskies said...

Thanks for your helpful suggestions! I'll check out the website and will do more experimenting soon!