Sunday, 9 November 2008

Eye for colour

As you can tell from previous posts about my weaving, I'm interested in learning about the use of colours in weaving.

My colour samplers taught me that some surprising colour combinations worked well together. It also taught me that the same colour combinations in a different weave structure seemed to behave differently.

I decided it was time to read more about how others understand colours and weaving.

One of my Aunts, a gifted painter who studied art in Edinburgh in the 1960s, told me of a famous weaver of the period, Bernat Klein, and a wonderful dress of his design that she had owned.

With a little research I soon learnt more. This link here will take you to a page from Heriot Watt University giving you a brief autobiography and a picture of one of his woven cloths. A brief summary: born 1923 Yugoslavia into a family in the textile trade, got to Scotland via Jerusalem having abandon Jewish religious studies for art and textiles. By 1962, had a weaving company in Galashiels, Scotland, employing 600 people and supplying top fashion houses. It is clear to me that the fabric of what I regarded as the classic Chanel look was Bernat Klein fabric. In fact, I have a couple of jackets in my wardrobe which clearly show the extent of his influence on fabric design.

Learn more by following this link to a Craft Scotland website article about a retrospective exhibition in 2006.

I found a second hand copy of his autobiography, "Eye for Colour", self-published in 1965 and much more than a life story. His life story is given as background to explain the development of his ideas on colour and design. He wants to make points about colour and design that he feels have not been made before, and these are given in the introduction.

[That:] "Colour conventions have always existed but that they change; and that modern painters have strongly influence our way of looking at colour not only in general and in relation to works of art but also in relation to our clothes and furnishings. The designing and the colouring of textiles is no less important than the designing of any other of the objects in daily use.

"Better results in this field could be achieved through a certain broad approach in the aesthetic and technical training of designers.

"People could be greatly helped in the choice and enjoyment of colour and design for their personal use if they thoroughly understood their own colouring and the relation to it of colour in general and were not swayed by any other considerations in their choice of colour."

I greatly enjoyed reading this book which is beautifully in a language that has many features of good narrative poetry - precise word choice; good sentence construction; a rhythm underlying the words as all the best storytellers have; the ability to describe a scene so the reader can imagine it.

There are also some great visual treats: the book ends with some of his paintings and the cloths developed from the paintings.


Anonymous said...

My mother moved into a new-build house a few years ago and decided to get a landscape gardener to lay out the garden for her. A friend of mine recommended someone, who turned out to have started in textile design working for Bernat Klein. The resulting garden is a beautiful study in texture and colour, but especially colour. I keep trying to persuade my mother to start a garden blog, but no luck yet!

deborahbee said...

Thank you for this post. I have a dream of weaving a slubby colourful fabric to make a Chanel type jacket, A few years ago I did a workshop day on making one using the correct structure and finishing. I found your piece about Bernat Klein fascinating and will be a jumping off place for further reading.

Helen said...

I have fallen in love with his fabrics already-just having seen a little from your links. I had never heard of this man so am very grateful to you for your blog on it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for introduing me to Bernat Klein. Wanting to learn more, i found this by chance

a show that brought together a weavers and spinners guild and a painters guild - seed for the show was Eye for Colour

Isabelle, Vancouverf BC

Dorothy said...

I hope to write a bit more about Bernat Klein, and about colour, but there's a lot to say about my weaving this week.

I'm glad other people have found Bernat's work interesting. Thanks to Isabelle for the link to the weaving & paintings show.