Exploring Complements

Hello Friends,

A couple of people gave me interesting feedback on last week’s newsletter about using complementary colors in weaving.

Gloria Jaroff, author of the book The Nature of Color in Interior Design, said that complementary color combinations can cancel each other out. They combine to create a neutral. She suggested using a red/blue with a green/blue or a red/yellow with a green/yellow. And she noted that complementary colors can create a jarring effect.

Gloria also said that in textiles, begin with darker colors and the combinations will appear lighter. If you begin weaving with colors that are too light the resulting colors will appear washed out.

Anna Zinsmeister, a long-time weaver and weaving instructor in the Burbank area said that “in weaving you have to think like Seurat.” She’s referring to Georges Seurat, the French pointillist painter from the 1800s. In Seurat’s paintings, dots of many different colors combine to create the effect of a single hue. Here’s an example from a detail of his work.

Georges Seurat painting

I noticed that Seurat uses mostly analogous colors to create these shapes. There’s a little pink in with the greens, but not a lot. And a little blue in the rust browns of the dog, but again, it’s used judiciously.

I got curious and decided to weave some samples to explore these ideas.

Following Gloria’s suggestion, I chose complementary pinks and greens that are both a little on the bluish side of the spectrum. The palette needed something else, so I added a golden yellow to bring it to life.

Cassandra Tondro weaving

First I wove a sample piece using equal amounts of pink and green. It’s what Gloria said. The pinks and greens cancel each other out, creating what appears to be a muddy brown. It’s not a pretty look!

Cassandra Tondro weaving

Next I used the same mostly pink warp with only a small amount of complementary green.

Cassandra Tondro weaving

This piece is more pleasing, but not as interesting as a Seurat painting. So I decided to try one last piece with single strands of green used throughout the pinks.

Cassandra Tondro weaving

This one is my favorite so far, but it’s kind of hard to work with those single strands. How do you weave in the ends without them looking like more than a single strand?

What’s your favorite color combination? I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts. You can share them with us in the comments section below.

With love and appreciation,



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