What makes an ugly Christmas sweater so ugly?  I was shopping a vintage store today where they had a special display of ugly Christmas sweaters. (Not sure how they acquired such a large selection, they were truly vintage, though!)  But I noticed something as I perused the assortment:  the worst had the most traditional colors, closest to what we all consider Christmas colors.  Like this gem:

[caption id="attachment_33058" align="aligncenter" width="417"]Now, I’m not a Grinch. I love Christmas. I just don’t love the traditional Christmas color scheme all that much… Now, I’m not a Grinch. I love Christmas. I just don’t love the traditional Christmas color scheme all that much…[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33052" align="aligncenter" width="663"]I think of these as middle red and middle green. On a color chart, middle red and middle green have the same value—the same degree of lightness or darkness, as compared with a gray scale. I think of these as middle red and middle green. On a color chart, middle red and middle green have the same value—the same degree of lightness or darkness, as compared with a gray scale.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33057" align="aligncenter" width="324"]For caners, this is a serious issue. My first Christmas or two after discovering polymer clay (almost thirty years ago, time flies when you play with clay!) I tried to make detailed cane patterns. What happens when you reduce the cane? It looks brown! Because there is not enough value contrast, the colors optically blend. If you’ve never tried this, you’ll have to take my word for it. (And if I still had any of those early attempts, I would never show you! HaHa!) For caners, this is a serious issue. My first Christmas or two after discovering polymer clay (almost thirty years ago, time flies when you play with clay!) I tried to make detailed cane patterns. What happens when you reduce the cane? It looks brown! Because there is not enough value contrast, the colors optically blend. If you’ve never tried this, you’ll have to take my word for it. (And if I still had any of those early attempts, I would never show you! HaHa!)[/caption]

Understanding Color Gradients for Caning

[caption id="attachment_33053" align="aligncenter" width="663"]So what to do? Make some adjustments. Get creative and move off middle. It can be as simple as shifting one of the colors into higher and lower value: So what to do? Make some adjustments. Get creative and move off middle. It can be as simple as shifting one of the colors into higher and lower value:[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33059" align="aligncenter" width="663"]This yarn ball wreath illustrates my point quite nicely. This yarn ball wreath illustrates my point quite nicely.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33054" align="aligncenter" width="663"]This second variation keeps the middle green but moves the red darker. The darker red color looks richer. Sometimes the darker red is used to convey vintage, like on an old world St. Nicholas, not the modern Santa… I’d put an image here, but I don’t want to infringe on anyone. Google “Old World Santa” and you will see what I mean. This second variation keeps the middle green but moves the red darker. The darker red color looks richer. Sometimes the darker red is used to convey vintage, like on an old world St. Nicholas, not the modern Santa… I’d put an image here, but I don’t want to infringe on anyone. Google “Old World Santa” and you will see what I mean.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33055" align="aligncenter" width="766"]Or you can go with new shades of both colors. This is what I did with the cane for my friend last week: Bright green pearl and Magenta pearl were my Christmas colors for the lighter shade in the poinsettias and for the borders. Or you can go with new shades of both colors. This is what I did with the cane for my friend last week: Bright green pearl and Magenta pearl were my Christmas colors for the lighter shade in the poinsettias and for the borders.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_33056" align="aligncenter" width="599"]Of course, once you pick your red and green, then there are all the accents—white, pearl, silver and gold… break out of the mold and have fun! The possibilities are endless! Of course, once you pick your red and green, then there are all the accents—white, pearl, silver and gold… break out of the mold and have fun! The possibilities are endless![/caption]

So, since I’m waiting for my daughter to finish her finals and come home for college before I finish my shopping, I’m going to see what other Christmas colors I can blend up… happy claying!

Oh, and Merry Christmas!

 

Patti