02.10.2014 § Leave a comment
I was searching for a color name and ran into the word “anomite,” got intrigued and looked into it further. I started amassing photos of these amazing fossils and also discovered an amazing museum, the Museum of the Earth. Although it’s out of the way, I will definitely try to visit the museum the next time I find myself in the area. If I had known about it when my children were young, I would have gone during our trip to Niagara Falls. What a great children’s camp opportunity! « Read the rest of this entry »
11.09.2014 § Leave a comment
I have always been fascinated with dyestuffs—what all the natural dyes can do, how the synthetic dye industry got started and how it replaced natural dyes. I found this wonderful story and extracted excerpts below:
During the Easter break in 1856, William Henry Perkin—an 18-year-old chemistry student in his second year at the Royal College of Chemistry in London—was doing experiments at his family home in Shadwell in the East End of London. His professor was Wilhelm Hofmann, a German chemist who was very interested in the chemicals that could be made from coal tar.
His efforts to make quinine, however, only produced a black tar. He then decided to try the same reaction with aniline, another « Read the rest of this entry »
06.05.2014 § 3 Comments
My Chinese name includes a word that means the color of jade. The same word also means the color of the kingfisher, so I have always been curious about the color of the kingfisher’s feathers. I have seen them on ponds in action, where they suddenly touch down on the water and fly directly upwards with fish in her beaks. It usually happens in a split second, so I hardly ever get a good, close look at the color of their feathers.
In the old days in China, the feathers of the kingfisher were used as inlays for women’s hair accessories. For those intricate hairpins with dangling beads that were pinned onto highly raised, decorative buns, the main component was often kingfisher feathers inlaid among gem stones and precious metals. It makes the birds romantic and mysterious to me. « Read the rest of this entry »
02.12.2013 § Leave a comment
We are forecasting interior color trends again this season. There are always nuances of differences in the colors used in different sectors of interior design (homes, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, offices, etc). However, if you look at them over time, the overall color cast does show a consistency across the sectors. Colors were warm with a yellow cast during the 1990s; the 2000s were a transitional time; and now they have definitely cooled and have a red cast. During the 1980s, mauve and plum were big in the contract market, so we can see the pendulum has swung back to red again except now we are seeing different hues with a red cast. « Read the rest of this entry »
15.02.2013 § 2 Comments
I bought this antique lacquer in a small antique store for china and lacquer ware in Kyoto. The store was so small, the aisles so narrow that I felt like I was knocking things off the shelf with every turn or movement. Especially with bulky coats, etc. Anyway, this lacquer ware caught my eye. The color has such elegance and depth that a plastic imitation cannot reproduce.
I used to call this orangish red color “Ming red,” meaning the red color of the Ming Dynasty red lacquer. Some of the rare Song Dynasty lacquer ware I have seen in museums may not look that different to an untrained eye, but their colors are even more elegant and have more depth. The Song Dynasty was about 1000 years ago while the Ming Dynasty existed during the 1500’s. Is it because the older an object becomes, the more patina it develops? Or that the ancient artists had better taste? It is neither. It is because … please guess.
29.06.2012 § Leave a comment
One of the subconscious reasons I started to study Japanese was to be able to read Japanese textile-related articles. The Japanese people’s ability to maintain a catalogue of their traditional color names throughout history with actual colors samples is most amazing to me. I brought back five of these kinds of books with me from Japan. My fever of studying color names was reignited when I purchased a Japanese-English dictionary last year at the Mizuwa Marketplace bookstore in Arlington Heights. At the front, there are about five pages of color blocks with name identifications. I was in awe to see that a common little dictionary would have such a professional level of color work. « Read the rest of this entry »
21.06.2012 § Leave a comment
About 25 years ago, before I started Brentano, I was studying the vegetable dye color names of ancient China. This interest was first initiated by the incredible color descriptions in a classical Chinese novel depicting the lives of the aristocracy. I wrote a lyrical prose piece about “color names in literature” that was published in a Chinese publication and have been hooked on the subject ever since.
I wrote to a textile historian once who was a professor at the then Hwa Tung Textile Academy in Shanghai. To my surprise, he wrote me back and awarded me with many texts with old Chinese weaving references and some of their vegetable-dyed scarf samples to identify the names of the dyes that I had questioned him about in my letter—such as Su Fong, Madder and Gardenia, etc. Some of those color names were among the early product color names I used when the color inspiration derived from this lineage.
These two scarves are dyed with Shiso Leaf (lavender), Gardenia (yellow), and Su Fang Wood (red). My notes about the dyes are in pencil.
« Read the rest of this entry »