• Kathy Mattes

About the Use of Color ...


I just completed a necklace where my color selections were done instinctively and were not colors that I ordinarily combine. I was interested in how that happened for me, so I thought it would be interesting to try to explain it here.


In traditional color planning, a designer would go to the color wheel and start to think about what combination of colors to use.


There are some traditional options to consider:


Bold – select complimentary colors, that are across from each other on the color wheel, as shown on the left above. This adds some “pop” to your design. Black and white is a traditional option for opposites and you can also add some metallic colors to create contrast.


Traditional – select analogous colors next to each other on the color wheel, or even different shades of the same color to create a harmonious look. When I combine different metallic beads it creates a very rich harmonious combination.


Mix it up – this 3rd option is where the real creativity comes in. In this case, you can start with a color you really love and then look for colors to work with it. Use your own judgement to determine if you think the combination is working.

My usual color selections are what I call earth tones.

I like working with and combining various metal colors - silver, gold, copper and bronze, and I like working with the colors of nature – blues, greens, golds, reds, and all shades of brown and gray. Greige was my favorite color for a while, as it combines beige and gray. You will find several pieces on my website that I describe as “greige.”


I am currently focusing on making beaded ropes for the pure silver pendants that I make. I recently completed a silver pendant that includes an orange cubic zirconia (CZ) stone. The bead design for the rope is one that I purchased from AVA Bead Designs. Her beading pattern calls for a combination of 4 beads -1 size 8, one size 11 and 2 that are size 15 (very small!).


When I started looking for beads to include in the rope, I of course wanted a color that would tie to the orange CZ. What I ended up with is a combination of orange, yellow, a multi-colored (rainbow) bead and black. This combination not only ties in with the orange CZ, but also speaks to the black in the oxidized silver and adds some contrasting colors. When the eye blends these colors the result is a rich and textured orange.



This video shows the early thought process that went into determining just how much black I wanted in the rope. While I thought I might want to add more black than the original bead pattern called for, I did a test strip and decided that too much black would detract from the other colors. So I ended up with the original combination of 4 colors.


The original design by AVA Designs also calls for adding large beads every inch or so throughout what she designed as a very long necklace. I prefer 18-20 inch necklaces, so I modified her design further and in this case used the large beads in only 2 places, on either side of the silver focal. The beads I used are carnelian, which combine nicely with the orange CZ and the orange size 11 beads.

And here is the finished piece ...


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