Did you know that, once upon a time, the color green killed people? Up into the latter half of the 1800’s, arsenic was used as part of the green coloring process for different textiles, with deadly results.
These days, thankfully, we don’t have that particular worry when we use greens in textiles.
There’s another notion of “poison” in color theory, too, that can be helpful when choosing colors. Quilters use this approach quite often – adding a “poison” color to a main color scheme by choosing a color directly opposite on the color wheel to the main color scheme. This makes the main color scheme spring to life in a curious way and can add a certain vivacity to a scheme that may otherwise seem somewhat lifeless.
Today, let’s chat about a shade of green that was the springboard for a discussion I had last week. It comes across as a kind of poisonous shade – something you might expect to find glowing eerily through the heavy mist on a dark night when that radioactive thingamabob from your nightmares comes lumbering after you.
Here you have two shades of green, out of the floche selection I showed you last week from Colour Complements.
You might be mildly tempted, as my cohort was during the discussion we had, to say, “I would never use those two greens together in the same project.”
And you could be right.
But you could also be missing an opportunity.
The green on the left has a good bit of blue in it, and it is cool and calm. Very evergreen-tree-ish. Spruce-ish, even. (Try saying “spruce-ish” ten times fast!)
It’s an overdyed thread, which means that it’s dyed in a series of colors over each other, so that the colors blend and meld together, but in some areas, some colors retain their own character. You can see subtle and sometimes dramatic changes in the shades along the thread.
The thread on the right is also overdyed. It exerts much yellow, and is almost neon in its brightness. It’s vivid. It’s crazy green! It evokes, to me, the newness of green. New green in spring. It’s surprising.
On the sample I’m stitching and photographing along the way right now, I used the spruce green floche as the basis of the green vines and as the fill on the leaves throughout the design.
I stitched the vines in chain stitch, to give them a bit of heft. And the leaves are fishbone stitch. I always seem to go back to fishbone stitch.
I like the way the overdyed floche works its way along the vines, slipping in and out of various shades of green. It makes a nice base for the vine, and the changes in shade will add something, I think, to the overall finish of the piece.
…taken by itself, it can seem somewhat dull.
Since this piece will feature vivid and lively colors, there should be a bit more vivacity to the vine, I think.
To really bring the greens out – to bring that whole vine to life – that’s where the neon green comes into the picture!
It doesn’t take much.
Using the neon green, I whipped one side of the chain stitch line. (You can read about various ways of whipping embroidery stitches here.)
By adding just a touch of this bright-bright yellow-green to the previous chain stitch vines, the whole vine brightens up, but not in an obnoxious, glaring way.
The vine comes to life, but it retains the blended characteristics of the darker, bluer greens. The yellow green barely highlights one side of the stitching as it runs through the whole vine.
As I add more growth to the vine and surrounding areas, I’ll find places to touch in the brighter green.
I’ll also most likely mix in solid greens, too. The sample twists of the floche I have don’t go too far, so I’m almost out of the base green, anyway. In a piece like this, a mix-up of greens will work well.
Adding other vivid colors to the embroidery will make the duller green in the vine more valuable, too, as the whole thing develops. It will retain its role as the “foundation” of the design.
The vine will be visible, despite the vivacious growth around it, thanks to the darker green.
Never underestimate the power of a color you might be tempted to reject! Try it. It just might bring your embroidery to life in an unexpected way.
Hope your week is off to a good start!