COLOR PHENOMENA.

Ordinary features.—In describing the constructive characters of fabrics and the attendant surface phenomena, I called attention to the fact that a greater part of the design manifested is enforced and supplemented by color, which gives new meaning to every feature. Color elements are present in the art from its very inception, and many simple patterns appear as accidents of textile aggregation long before the weaver or the possessor recognizes them as pleasing to the eye. When, finally, they are so recognized and a desire for greater elaboration springs up, the textile construction lends itself readily to the new office and under the esthetic forces brings about wonderful results without interfering in the least with the technical perfection of the articles embellished. But color is not confined to the mere emphasizing of figures already expressed in relief. It is capable of advancing alone into new fields, producing patterns and designs complex in arrangement and varied in hue, and that, too, without altering the simple, monotonous succession of relievo characters.

In color, as in relieved design, each species of constructive combination gives rise to more or less distinct groups of decorative results, which often become the distinguishing characteristics of the work of different peoples and the progenitors of long lines of distinctions in national decorative conceptions.

In addition to this apparently limitless capacity for expression, lovers of textile illumination have the whole series of extraordinary resources furnished by expedients not essential to ordinary construction, the character and scope of which have been dwelt upon to some extent in the preceding section.

I have already spoken of color in a general way, as to its necessary presence in art, its artificial application to fabrics and fabric materials, its symbolic characters, and its importance to esthetic progress. My object in this section is to indicate the part it takes in textile design, its methods of expression, the processes by which it advances in elaboration, and the part it takes in all geometric decoration.

It will be necessary, in the first place, to examine briefly the normal tendencies of color combination while still under the direct domination of constructive elaboration. In the way of illustration, let us take first a series of filaments, say in the natural color of the material, and pass through them in the simplest interlaced style a second series having a distinct color. A very simple geometric pattern is produced, as shown in Fig. 315. It is a sort of checker, an emphasized presentation of the relievo pattern shown in Fig. 291, the figures running horizontally, vertically, and diagonally. Had these filaments been accidentally associated in construction, the results might have been the same, but it is unnecessary to indicate in detail the possibilities of adventitious color combinations. So far as they exhibit system at all it is identical with the relievo elaboration.

Fig. 315. Pattern produced by interlacing strands of different colors

Fig. 315. Pattern produced by interlacing strands of different colors.ToList

Fig. 316. Pattern produced by modifying the alternation of fillets

Fig. 316. Pattern produced by modifying the alternation of fillets.ToList

Fig. 317. Isolated figures produced by modifying the order of intersection

Fig. 317. Isolated figures produced by modifying the order of intersection.ToList

Assuming that the idea of developing these figures into something more elaborate and striking is already conceived, let us study the processes and tendencies of growth. A very slight degree of ingenuity will enable the workman to vary the relation of the parts, producing a succession of results such, perhaps, as indicated in Fig. 316. In this example we have rows of isolated squares in white which may be turned hither and thither at pleasure, within certain angles, but they result in nothing more than monotonous successions of squares.

Fig. 318. Pattern produced by simple alternations of light and dark fillets

Fig. 318. Pattern produced by simple alternations of light and dark fillets. Basketry of the Indians of British Guiana.ToList