‘The Secret Lives of Colour’

This week, I want to share with you a lovely book, which was given to me as a birthday present three years ago.

I even love the cover of this book, which is indented with tiny circles, each filled with colour like the pans in a watercolour paintbox.

The author is Kassia St Clair who is a freelance writer. She wrote articles for British Elle Decoration magazine, including pieces about colour, which provided, as the author describes it ‘the germ for this book’. It is not a directory of colour, but rather a collection by an enthusiast who is interested in the appearance, meaning, history, formation, fashion and appeal of her chosen shades.

Photo credit: Kassia St Clair

The book tells the story of 75 different hues, and the information is both engaging and interesting. I kept the book by my bedside and read a few ‘stories’ each night, a bit as if it were a novel.

Because I used to teach Textiles Technology (as part of the syllabus for Design & Technology Product Design Textiles at A-level), I knew, for example how the red colour cochineal is produced, but here there was so much new to discover.

The author describes the way certain colours became fashionable at a certain point in history (like ‘avocado’ in the 1970s). The use of other colours evolved for specific purposes like the fascinating story of ‘Mountbatten pink’ a pale puce colour, used to paint navy ships in 1940.

One of the delights of this book is that the edge of the pages for each colour are printed in a strip of that colour, as you can see from the photo of the page edges below.

Pages from 'The Secret Lives of Colour' by Kassia St Clair

Even the endpapers of the book are beautiful.

Pages from 'The Endpapers from 'The Secret Lives of Colour' by Kassia St Clair

I really recommend this book – it is a delight! The 2018 edition of the book has this cover.

Thank you for reading my blog. Quilt patterns are here, Fabrics are here, Classes are here.

Published by Amanda Jane Textiles

I am an artist, designer and maker living in Ramsgate, UK

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