Vol. 14 No. 2
Fall / Winter 2019
In this issue we consider colour in craft and design. For the philosophers, colour is a ‘secondary’ quality—it is considered after shape and motion and quantity. No less important an element, just taken into account after the ‘primary’ qualities. Sometimes the situation seems to be the same in craft and design—colour can be influential, but other qualities come first.
Our articles look into this. Where does colour challenge shape, or function or texture and material itself? Textiles are one exciting point—Thea Haines looks into madder root, the dye source of the colour red for several millennia. And then Owen Johnson looks at glass and asks where colour lives in that process. What about colour in furniture? Nothing is impossible. And then another challenge to the possible is made by conservation scientist Jennifer Poulin who finds new stories within the colours of historic objects. These are just some of the many questions and points of colour within craft and design. As always (we hope), the answers are not simple or obvious.
Speaking more personally now, this yearning for complicated stories within making is a part of what has made my time with Studio so rewarding. And now I’m off to pursue some of my related interests further.
Leaving Studio is jarring for me and I do so somewhat reluctantly: we in the craft and design communities have (always) so much more to do and it is a pleasure and honour to work with you on making well and making good. But I am also leaving full of passion and energy for my own projects. I’m looking to weave some of our craft and design conversations with some of that philosophy and history and of course politics. Drilling down on some of the questions that have passed through these pages will be a new challenge. But I will take the lessons I have learned from you into my research: shaping questions with learning-patience and shifting-skill, carefully seeking uncertain precision, making abstract ideas human with a fingerprint’s presence or a hiccup in the grain or a tangle in the thread.
Certainly making is about the big questions—process, creativity, individuality—and the other bigger questions we’ve been poking at craft in these pages over the last few years. But when I pick up a vessel or a draped fabric or a delicious sculptural glass blob, when I marvel at the humanity of brilliant jewellery or nature’s largess made human or those non-stop furniture makers—I learn again that making is never only about limited elements that can be reduced to a ‘quality’: colour or form or material. Making is a process of history, of social activity, of looking forward and backward, of engagement, of the individual permanently relating to the universal. Craft is making at an entangled intersection of many qualities. This is the point of greatest strength for us all—and a lesson craft and design shares with the world. The ability to see both sides of this intersection housed within an object is comparable to what Josef Albers said of colour in his famous book: “The mutual influencing of colors we call interaction. Seen from the opposite viewpoint, it is interdependence.” Now if we could just explain that to the rest of the planet.
I thank everyone who has given me and us so much support. (There are so many people and organizations.) The collaborative communities whose many intersections flow through these pages make these pages. And so the pages flow. If we pause in this issue to dwell on colour it is only just that—a pause, before re-shaping, re-forming, re-viewing endless qualities in constant motion; the questions keep on rolling as will the issues of Studio magazine. Just, now, without me.
Making with and without colour.
Did You Know?
Michael Prokopow considers the power of resale shops. Read article
Under the Radar
Spotting lesser-known talent in BC—Megan Samms. Read article
Review: The David Kaye Gallery
Leopold Kowolik reflects on the closing of a Canadian gallery. Read article
Review: Territories in Metal
Stephanie Vegh reviews an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Burlington.
Colour and Context
Museum conservator Jennifer Poulin takes us through the thrilling science of identifying colour in historic materials.
Thea Haines discusses the power of Rubia tinctorum, an ancient pigment that is being rediscovered as a paragon of natural colour.
Perhaps more than any other medium, colour defines the impact of glass objects. Owen Johnson looks at six makers and six colours that they can’t stop using. Read article
Colour and furniture don’t always mix in the world of the handmade. We sat down with a new creative duo who feel differently.
For the Love of Colour
Leah Gravells shares her batik process that puts colour in the foreground.