color as a starting point : beginning with black

black paper mache teacupDid you know mica comes in black?! Well it does – blackish anyway and it’s lovely ( I got some here). I made a paper mache teacup and gave it a fancy, sparkly interior. The teacup reminds me of the black milk glass on my mother’s little shelf of treasures (P. S. – teacups make sweet  Mother’s Day gifts).

dastardly owlFind the owl sewing pattern here.

Black is the color on my mind right now. I finished this scoundrel last week – he’s made of several antique bodices and a ancient moth eaten shawl – all in shades of black. I love the subtle variety in tones and the effect that limiting the palette has on my thinking and process. It made me wonder – what if I applied that same constraint to other ideas? I wandered around in my mind for a while and looked through my big note book of ideas – thinking about everything through a black lens. It was shockingly effective. That shift gave me lots of new ideas and curiosities and  fresh eyes on so many that had stalled and gotten back-burnered. It was a great illustration of the massive creative power of constraint.

The simplest thing – the smallest shift can guide you to new paths, new ideas and new places in your mind – shine a light on something that has been just out of reach in the shadows….. I am on a life long mission to shine a light into each and every one of those shadows.

I think it could be interesting to do a series of color studies (maybe teal next). But here I am so I’ll begin with black. Right now I’m in the collecting, hunting, gathering, percolating phase.

black antique garment fragments

black antique notions

For me percolating means – digging through treasures, making collections, experimenting, taking photos and generally messing around. I’m having an energetic and marvelous time. I’ll share what I come up with soon and if you would like to make your own study of black send me a link – I’d love to see.

back swan


  1. Lisa Schmitz

    My very favorite (non) color. Looking forward to your creations.

  2. Penny Baugh

    I love the idea of picking a color and going with it – taking it to its limits and searching for this and that to combine. Yesterday I found the most delicious set of green linen napkins. I don’t believe I’ve ever used this particular shade of green and am beginning to let my mind play with ideas of how to use this precious find.

  3. Love this approach to color. Not one I have thought of. The black swan in the bottom picture is beautiful too.

  4. You and the things you do are so intriguing and how you think too is amazing. The artists mind. I
    adore this owl and wish he was mine.

  5. the black mica is actually the kind i’m most familiar with, and i know it by the name cat’s gold. been long wanting to experiment with it mixed with paint or paper pulp. you’ve given me a reminder, thank you!

    that owl is one of my faves so far. so swarthy.

  6. Laurie Sharp

    It makes sense to begin your color study with black. Wikipedia says it is one of the first colors used in art. So much depth is contained within black – seems like you could dive in and go on forever…..

    I love the artists who you feature in your newsletters – always very inspiring to me! Thank you for sharing your finds with us. Kate Kato’s paper work is brilliant and beautiful.

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