Artist and weaver Brooke Demos works with a material most of us throw under our kitchen sinks or some other sacred spot (or possibly don’t use anymore because we conscientiously carry a grocery tote). She uses plastic bags.
“I started collecting them in the 90’s. The bags were more colorful then. I guess the thinking is ‘why spend the money on dyes?'”
She weaves them into both functional pieces such as rugs, pillows, place mats, shower curtains and tepee skins, in addition to more conceptual designs.
“I consider the tepee skins both functional and conceptional. Native Americans always used resources from their natural environment. In fact, shelter is one of the oldest structures that incorporates the weaving technique. Weaving is a very, very old construction and women were the first weavers.”
Conceptually, Demos has created wall hangings and larger pieces. Her American Flag wall hanging is titled Consumer Allegiance which is a meditation on patriotism, capitalism and consumerism.
“I weave discarded plastic shopping bags because of the transformation that occurs when I process this modern waste product, produced in vast quantities on a global scale, into a sensual fabric or textile construction. The material speaks to me about where it comes from and what it is made of, directing me to themes of a universal consumer culture, sustaining the environment, and turning blight into beauty.”
And she loves color.
“I’ve been drawn to color all my life. The more the better. I’ve been experiencing the color of bags for over twenty years. Some of my favorite were newspaper sleeves. When they started throwing those newspapers on people’s porches in plastic bags, they came in an array of colors. I have quite a collection and they’re gorgeous.”
Her technique entails cutting the plastic bags into strips, warping the loom with them and using the contrasting colored strips in the fill to create different designs, patterns and images into the cloth.
“The collection of raw material to produce my art could be likened to those who raise and shear sheep or harvest flax or cotton plants. My collection process includes gleaning bags from the street, fences and recycling containers at the local grocery stores. Friends and family have enthusiastically saved post-consumer bags for me.”
In addition to attending the Art Institute of Chicago, Demos studied textile development and marketing at FIT in New York where she learned the significance and importance of color forecasting.
“There was a panel on color forecasting that involved political scientists, economists and major designers from all over the world and they discussed some of the current global topics, such as war and the environment, and how these issues could be represented in color. All colors are going to stimulate some kind of emotional and intellectual response and people are paid a great deal of money to study and influence these trends.”
In terms of a personal color palate, Demos goes for purple.
“It’s a royal color. It was a very difficult color to get for the purple velvet robes that kings wore. It cost a lot of money to get the shells – actually the purple comes out of a couple plants and shells – and it would take thousands of pounds of shells to make this dye for the kings. It was considered exotic.”
Demos weaves on two looms; Harrisville, 36 4-harness floor loom and Toika, 60 countermarche rug loom. Her work has been exhibited at ARC Gallery and Educational Foundation in Chicago, Fibers Arts Network of Michigan, and has received the Curators Choice Award at the Chicago Art Open. For more information on her work or commissions, email email@example.com and see more at Saatchi Art.
Artist Christie Beniston creates work for public, commercial and residential spaces.
“Mosaic became my medium for its beauty and durability in an outdoor setting. I approach each project first as a designer and then as an artist. As a designer, I decide how to visually communicate the intention of the site and then, as an artist, I determine the palette, select the materials, and create the artwork. I’m sure the designer and the artist within are much more entwined, but it does feel like I have two distinct roles that I bring to each project.”
She was searching the internet for glass tiles for a school mural she was working on.
“I loved the name Modwalls. I love their consistent product lines. They’re reliable, professional, and I love their fast delivery.”
When asked about her thoughts on color, her response was enthusiastic.
“I am all about the color! The brighter the better! Color is one of the things I appreciate most about ceramic and glass; the material won’t fade over time, and the intensity of color will look just as good as the day I install.
Beniston had been focusing on ceramic work for galleries and became interested in handmade tile.
“For one of my first large public murals, I had intended to make all of the tile myself, but I was required to incorporate commercial tile that was part of an existing donor wall. I quickly saw the advantages of exploring other materials beyond what I was capable of making! So I began incorporating commercially-made ceramic and glass tile in my background fill areas and putting my emphasis on my hand-built relief tiles.”
The work above used Modwalls’ tiles. You can see more of Beniston’s creations on her website, and don’t forget to check us out for your own home project!
What do tiles and chakras have in common? “Chakra-wha?”
According to yoga philosophy, chakras are several points of physical or spiritual energy in the human body. Each chakra has a corresponding color and affects us in its own unique way. When you walk into a room and feel really good, is it amazing design or the vibration of color? Or both?
“When the energy center, or chakra, is blocked or weak, physical and emotional dysfunction can occur,” says Dr. Alicia Armistead of Healing Arts NYC. Dr. Armistead is a color therapist, chiropractor, and one of only a handful of practitioners in New York City to be certified as a Master in Nutrition Response Testing.
So how does it actually work? How does color work with the chakras to promote healing and balance?
“There are different ways to go about color therapy,” says Armistead. “Many times a patient explains their emotional state and physical symptoms with a color therapy practitioner and the practitioner decides which chakra to work on. When working on a chakra, different colored sunglasses can be used. For example, if the patient needs to strengthen their root chakra, I would then treat it by having the patient wear red sunglasses for 60 seconds. This treatment of color into the eyes stimulates the brain at a wavelength of about 700nm which resets the chakra energy.”
Armistead has developed the use of muscle testing or applied kinesiology in her approach to working with the chakras.
“In muscle testing, I put my hand in the patient’s energy field and if an energy field is weak, the muscle testing will show that. After finding out which one(s) go weak and then prioritizing which one needs the most healing, I then have the patient wear the appropriate colored sunglasses that correspond to the weak chakra.”
What if you don’t have access to a color therapist in your area? How can you use color to improve your life?
“There are many ways to stimulate the chakras other than wearing different colored sunglasses. For example, if you want to work on your throat chakra, you can wear blue, color a room blue, decorate with blue fabrics, blue candles, etc.”
“My treatment room is colored a light purple to help have patients’ crown chakra open for healing. I also wear purple-lensed sunglasses in my daily life which help my own crown chakra. I pick out my outfits in the morning depending on how I am feeling and what chakra I want to strength for the day. So if I feel my root chakra needs help, I will specifically wear red that day.”
So the next time you enter a room and feel calm or agitated, look around and see what colors are present. Look at our tile samples and see how they make you feel and then imagine being surrounded in that feeling. Does that feeling suit a kitchen where you might want a sense of vitality and optimism, or a bedroom where you may want to nurture a feeling of calm and serenity? Dr. Armistead helps us remember that spaces are both inner (your body and mind) and outer (your home and office), and that color transcends the surface to affect the beautifully essential.
Have you ever gone to a paint store, fell in love with a color, then came home and put it on your wall and your beautiful little heart sank? How did that warm “Bahamian Coral” (Ok, 80’s, I know) turn into the interior bathroom wall of One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest? Who knew that “Sea Breeze” was really lost-in-the-back-of-the-fridge pea soup? That’s where a color expert comes in.
“It is absolutely overwhelming to be confronted by seemingly millions of different colors, especially if you are also under time constraints,” says Jennifer Ott of Jennifer Ott Design. “Even if you don’t have the budget for full interior design services, you might be able to swing a quick consultation with a designer or color consultant. Many color pros will work for a fixed fee, or will charge hourly but are willing to take on small jobs — as little as a few hours worth.”
Jennifer’s company provides exterior color consultations to homeowners anywhere in the world. They use renderings and large-size paint swatches to help clients visualize the colors they recommend, all for a fixed fee starting as low as $395.
“When you factor in the cost of numerous unsuccessful paint samples, or, worse, the cost of having to repaint your entire house because you are unhappy with results, a few hundred dollars up front to get a great color palette can be a smart investment.”
For those of you that happen to live in the San Francisco Bay area, Jennifer can also help you with interior color consultation. But if you don’t, fear not! We have some handy Jennifer Ott tips just for you.
“When selecting color for a space, I advise clients to focus first on items that are big, expensive, and come in limited colors and patterns. By picking those items first, a palette will start to develop, and it’s easier to then add in things like tile, paint, and decorative accessories that come in all manner of colors and tend to be the less expensive items in a space. I find this is more successful than trying to select colors for everything in one fell swoop, which is almost always overwhelming and stressful.”
What about color trends? How do you update your home without running into the fear that soon it will become outdated? Jennifer advises to avoid trends unless you’re willing to change everything when the next trend comes along. She works closely with clients to help them figure out what colors they love and then advises them on the best way to incorporate them.
“I’m not a design tyrant or diva and I don’t let my ego get into the way. I want to partner with homeowners to find the best solutions to their design challenges. I crave and savor the back and forth interaction I have with clients who care about and are engaged in the process.”
What if you like bold, vibrant colors and lots of texture? How do you find the right balance? (Which is really the key to having it all!) Jennifer suggests that a good rule of thumb is to limit those colors to items or areas of your home that are deserving of the attention. If you have an item with an interesting texture that you want to highlight, it’s good to let it stand on it’s own and leave the bold colors to draw attention to shapes and forms.
“This is actually the basis of a successful light and neutral palette — you need to include items that have pleasing and varying textures, sheens, and finishes, to create a rich and interesting space. My most frequent piece of advice is to use bold colors for items that are relatively easy and affordable to change out — items such as paint, accent pillows, throws, etc. Neutrals are great for things you want to keep around for a good long time, such as your flooring, countertops, and cabinetry.
There are so many way to use color. You can use color to make a room seem larger, warmer or cozier.
“I follow the notion that cool colors visually recede and warm colors advance. So if you want to create a warm and cozy vibe, go for the warmer hues of red, orange, yellow or brown. If you are looking to make a room feel more open and expansive, go for the cooler hues of green, blue, purple, and gray. Darker colors usually feel heavy and somber, so I avoid using them in large amounts. They are best limited to accents in a room, and are actually great for adding drama to a space. I also tend to tailor the color palette to the homeowner’s climate. Those residing in cold and overcast climates should consider bringing in warmer tones, wheras those in hotter climates might favor cooler hues.”
So the key to having it all is working with a color specialist, clarifying what you love, and creating spaces and places that make you feel good.
“Color wakes us up. Gets the juices flowing.”
Color encompasses so much of our lives, that the more color we use, the more vibrant our lives become. We spoke to chef, actor, writer and all-around creative person, Glory Simon, about how she uses color in her life.
“Color is everything with cooking, whether it’s in the actual food ingredients, the presentation, or the dishes the food is being served on. We all know to eat our green vegetables, but all vegetables with vibrant colors are packed with nutrients.”
“For the past year, I’ve been rather obsessed with purple food. Purple is such a brightening color and it’s amazing to see how many foods exist in nature that are purple: purple carrots, cabbage, kale, chard, radishes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cauliflower etc etc etc. It’s also helpful when someone is on a restrictive diet to see lots of color on their plate.”
But if the food is good, does it really matter?
“The eye connects to the brain and to the salivary glands and prepares us for the meal. Color wakes us up. Gets the juices flowing. Creates excitement and drama.”
“I am always more excited by a meal that is painted with a rainbow of colors and it doesn’t have to be complicated or some sort of New American Molecular Gastronomy. It could just be chopping fresh basil on to your chicken or a slice of watermelon radish.”
A FUNCTIONAL KITCHEN = DELICIOUS FOOD
For Glory, who spends a lot time in the kitchen, her preference is for a kitchen that tends towards high-functionality.
“So many kitchens are not very functional. I like lots of white and steel where all the appliances are on one wall with maybe a large Island with lots of storage and perhaps even a small sink.”
In addition to the colorful foods she uses, she might bring color into the kitchen with accents like flowers, or pretty cookware.
COLOR AS METAPHOR
Whether you prefer simple food and a colorful kitchen, or a simple kitchen with colorful food (or both!), color has the ability to transcend the material to bring added dimension, diversity and beauty to our lives. Just how colorful we want our lives to be, is up to us. For Glory, her aspirations are full of “color”.
With clients, her aspirations are clear.
“My first thought is always that I want to make them happy. I want them to feel good and things to taste incredible. Satisfied, happy, healthy customers with a touch of decadence here and there. My clients are often shocked that healthy creations can taste so good!
Modwalls readers get a 10% discount off of Glory Simon’s private chef services such as menu planning, recipes, consultations and more. You can follow Glory @storyglory, see pix on at Riseshineglory or read her blog. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How do you live with color? Tell us!