TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Importance of Seeing Color for the Fiber Artist by Gina

Trembling Diamonds Quilt by Gina

Shades of Gray - What do you see?

Most of us learned our colors when we were 2 or 3 years old. By school age, some of us were diagnosed with some degree of color blindness, a deficiency in perceiving value, tints and low saturation in color, brown and purple being particularly a problem area. For some people who are color blind, they only see shades which we call "value".

When I first began making art quilts using my hand dyed fabrics, I enjoyed creating the effects of luminosity and illusion. I dyed a lot of grays and 8 step color gradations. I combined these solid shades with batiks because of the subtlety of tonal range of batiks plus the fact that a batik often has a mixture of light and deep value within one color palette.

I discovered a website, x-rite, that has three color tests to try. The three spectrums of color were what to me seemed to be rather murky and complex shades. I began to wonder if I had a color deficiency in one area of the light spectrum. It took me about 8 minutes to take the test, and the results were computed immediately.

Since I spend a lot of time and resources dyeing fabric for my art, I was glad to see that my test results were very close to what is “the norm”. I had been a little concerned after seeing 2 of my art pieces in black and white photos and thinking how different the shading effects were in the absence of color. These two art quilts were made with low saturation batiks and grays.

You would be helping other fiber artists if you reported back any surprising results after taking the test, and I for one would be interested in hearing any feedback you have.

Color vision is a blessing we take for granted. Did you know mice are completely color blind? Genetic scientists are experimenting with gene substitution in mice with some remarkable success. These scientists hold out hope that color blindness may one day be reversible.

Lateral Fault by Gina Delorenzi

Guest Post by Gina DeLorenzi

Gina is a self taught fiber artist. She has developed a traditional craft in unique ways. Color and simple shapes drive the quilt making process. Using her own hand dyed fabrics, she combines traditional techniques and patterns in bright and vivid contemporary expressions.


  1. I seem to be among the lucky ones with a high degree of colour differenciation, my result was 86.
    If you test my ability to sew a quilt, it will be "very low".
    Your quilts tell me it can't be "norm" but must be better.

  2. Eva, It could be interesting to see if you test differently later in the day. Gina

  3. I got a 14. Boo hoo.... Wanted to be perfect! But, the color differences are very subtle, so it's not easy.

  4. 14!! Wow. In 1420 or so... No boohoo allowed.

  5. What a contest. This time I did it in the morning (first try at noon and did not take as much time as the second one). Result: 31.

  6. Great article! I just put a link to this post on my blog. I hope it brings you a few extra readers.


  7. I scored 15 - the highest score for my age (so far, I presume). Top score is zero (0) by the way, not 100, so 14, 15 etc is good color vision, and 80 etc is poor color vision. Fiber Focus, you're very near perfect! Fun test!


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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