Monday, October 17, 2011

What I Look for in a Stone: Part 2, Colors

part 3, part 4, part 5

Most people are aware that color will affect their moods and thus perception. There have been countless studies done on it. Color psychology is not an exact science, but as artists we use it all the time. A good example would be from my last post which demonstrated how color effected design.

There are some stones in which the color is the lone inspirational quality. I tend to like solid colors. I like them because they stand up to whichever design I choose. Solid colors are a good backdrop for wires. They create a nice contrast and interesting negative space. A combination of colors in a stone create a medley of emotion the way an orchestra might.

Emotionally, for me, purple says regal, confident and timeless. It is centuries of successive monarchs ruling through time. It is the color of a romanticized past. I would be more apt to wrap a purple stone in a visually commanding way, taking risks and adding flourish. It might be classic in the oldest sense, more Egyptian or Grecian than say, Deco or Victorian.

Red, to me, is control. It has deep seated power ready to burst, turmoil. It is more mysterious and potentially dangerous. Red has secrets that want to be held. It is the epitome of geological forces. My favorite would be a fine, red jasper. It is a common, inexpensive stone, but so inspiring. I'd be apt to wrap it tightly to contain and concentrate it's energy.

Blue is the playful side of the palette, at least it is for me. I am more apt to to wrap it in a visually unselfconscious way, open to all and unashamed. It may seem bold, but not risky. It is fun. Blue reminds me of childhood, it has a certain naivety. Different shades have varying degrees of these qualities. Sky blue would be most naive, where azure or lapis blue would be more defiantly playful- they would color outside the lines- on purpose. 

Shades of green always make me think of nature. From grass, to jungle trees; from backyard lawns to the Amazon, green is Mother Nature. Green is moist, it is pure, it is life giving. It is unassuming, it is frank. It has always been. I am more apt to wrap green in a straight forward, no pretense way. Green speaks for itself. It can be a simple border wrap or anything else that it wants to be because it can stand up to anything. 

I do enjoy earthtones, too. I have been on a color kick, lately and I don't have many earthtones in my collection, at the moment. They will be under represented in this post, but certainly not to be forgotten. I love browns, for instance, because they seem very sturdy, earthy and warm. They seem condensed. Browns seem to actually have a tactile quality. They are rough like bark, they invite you to touch. I would be more apt to use coiling with brown or textured, forged wires and definitely copper. I would try to incorporate a visual texture.

Now that I have shared some of my color emotions/perceptions, I invite you to explore your own. Look back through your work and see if you can pick out any trends in how you wrap certain colors or how you feel looking at them. Writing this has been really interesting to me especially when I think back to older pieces. I realize that I wasn't even aware, at that point, that color was actually influencing me. Of course, all the other qualities of the stone come together to influence, also, but you get the idea. :)

Orangy, red Cuprite from Sonora, Mexico with flecks of pea green chrysocolla

Another orange stone, more tangerine than in the picture. This is a natural, quartz gem.

Gemmy, Caribbean Larimar with "turtle back" pattern. Beautiful color!
Sonora Sunrise (cuprite and chrysocolla). Large, nice example.
Olmec, Guatemalan blue jade. This is a very subtle, creamy mint blue color in person.
Tiffany stone, a good example of a medley of colors. They all seem to work together. 

The new, Crayola Jasper. Is this not awesome? Only one I have so far, but I'm in love.

A small, gemmy, lepidolite in mauvy, lavendar pink or raspberry with sparkles.
Fabulous Afghan lapis, the undisputed King of Blue. This is even more fabulous in person. The camera just couldn't pick up its intensity.


  1. What an interesting, thought-provoking post! It makes me want to go through my collection of stones and listen to the mood they evoke. So far I can agree about blue - I'm thinking of denim lapis, it is so easy and fun, and will take any playful and improvised wrap.
    And green is mysterious for me - at least the transparent or translucent green stones. They are mysterious like the deep sea, or a misty forest.
    Thanks for the great article!

  2. Hey Tela, What a wonderfully expressive post. I love the way you described each color and the responsive feelings that color evokes. So many of your thoughts ring true for me too. It is interesting to think back on color choices made in the past. How subtley was the design influenced?

    This series is definately food for thought. I will think more on what color means for me and the choices I make in color and design. One thing that really stands out is Blue/Playfulness. I rarley work with blue and rarely feel playful except with my grandson. Coincidence??

    Your stone examples are outstanding. Looking at each one, an internal response is felt. The Crayola Jasper is incredible.

    Thank you for this informative and thought provoking series.

  3. Hi Renate :) I 'm glad you like it. Actually, it really made me stop and think, too.

  4. Hi Christine :) Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. Writing this has been thought provoking for me, too.

    I'm glad we three feel the same about blue. It would be interesting to see you do a blue wrapped stone off the cuff to see what happens. Maybe, with your grandson around. BTW, speaking of grandkids- Since the kids settled in, my muse seems to be in overdrive, just as you suggested it might be. Good call :)

  5. Such good info... and I would think like that about colors.. I think it makes a person feel better too, like a healing part of the gems... Lynn

  6. Hi Lynn- I totally agree! Certain colors definitely make me feel better. We all have our favorite wardrobe colors and I like to think it has as much to do with how we FEEL in them as to how we LOOK in them. :)

  7. I need to chew on the color points. I think that shades of color or even context of other colors can alter the dominant emotional tone of a color. Generally I am so fixated on pattern, and subordinate color to pattern. As long as the color is not drab or unattractive in some way, I appreciate it in the pattern without thinking too much about the emotional/tone pallet of the colors themselves.

    I guess you post is going to walk around with me for a while. Thanks.

    BTW, that Tiffany is a wonderful stone. the colors complement well, and the size of the pattern elements fit the size of the stone, and what I would call ordered chaos in the pattern - but there I go talking about pattern again.


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments.