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Exclusive Excerpt from Hooked on Celtic Rugs

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Excerpt from Chapter 3: Celtic Colors

Color Planning for Celtic Art

Color planning for a Celtic mat is not much different from the color planning for a regular mat. You want colors that will work together in a harmonious fashion. We all have our own preferred color palette, and that differs from person to person. I have one friend whose palette consists of dark colors, using shades of browns and reds. I always enjoy watching her pieces come to life, but trying to use her palette will not work for me. An exercise using her palette means trouble and unhooking for me.

When I first begin planning, I look at the largest section of the particular design I'm working with (excluding the background, which will be the vellum color). When I have identified that space, be it a bird's body or the shape of a letter, I will use the color I want for that space, and then choose the other colors working outward from it. I can't say I use the strongest color for that section because I've hooked mats using almost every one of the colors as the central theme. In most cases, I find yellow works as a good choice for small spaces. Yellow is intense and can overwhelm its neighbors if large amoutns are used as the focal point. The same applies to orange. Use these two as your poison colors.

If using other colors not in the Celtic range, still pick out the main space and color. Then try this trick: jelly roll the colors you plan to use beside and around the main color. Do this by placing strips of each color on top of one another and rolling them up loosely.

If one color doesn't work, is too weak or too strong, it will stand out from the others. Go back to your stash and try again. One of the easiest rules to follow when choosing mat colors is this: one bright, one dark, and one poison. Let the other colors complement those, and you will generally be successful. Always take time to play with your colors.

I have had mats that told me immediately what colors they would be—no argument! On the other hand, I have struggled with a design, even though the colors worked well together when I was choosing the palette. I had to pull out, rethink, and reposition many times to achieve the proper "voice" of the design. Don't be discouraged by these trying lessons. Every time a loop has to be pulled out or a color changed, something is being learned. I find we generally don't remember the successes nearly as well as the failures.

Design Note: Color wheels are invaluable and well worth the money. A visit to the hobby section of any craft store or bookstore will provide a wealth of information about using color. You will find color theory books available for all levels of experience; some even have color wheels in them. Visit a paint store for handfuls of color chips that can provide hours of enjoyment as you play with different color combinations. It is not necessary to invest in buying large numbers of books or magazines—you can find inspiration all around. Check out your local library. Take time to look at mats done by others and study how their colors work with, or in some cases, fight with each other. Keep notes on what pleases you and what you don't like. Get to know your palette—it may surprise you! My hooking palette is totally different from the palette I choose for my wardrobe.


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