All posts by tbird

The Delica Brown Blues

Black animals are hard to photograph — they look like blobs of black in most light — and they’re just as hard to bead. Harder, in some ways, because a camera will record whatever color it sees.  Not necessarily the color that the human eye sees, and not necessarily a color for which there is a matching Delica.

I made several peyote weave pictures for Squib’s scrapbook (having not yet gotten into my loom groove). Most of the patterns featured black cats, but the most realistic “cat eyes” pattern I could find had a tabby with a white streak down the nose:

Hannah Rosner’s Cat Eyes Cuff Pattern

For my first take on the pattern, I lumped half of the original colors into a new “black” category (using Delica DB10, opaque black) and the others into the “brown” category, using DB1584 (opaque matte espresso bean).

(This approach failed, a lot. Even if the DB1584s had not been playing some evil beady Jekyll-Hyde game, the final bracelet looked blotchy rather than naturally striped. My second pass was more successful; see below.)

Delicas are the bead of choice for most weavers I know, because they are very consistent in color and size. Well, mostly consistent. A couple, maybe more, shades of Delica browns change color dramatically, depending on the light.

The following are not great photographs (I’m less than inspired to take great pictures of a collection of bad artistic decisions), but they show the effect of light on DB1584.

I work under a daylight lamp, which is fluorescent, and this is probably  why I didn’t know I had a problem until it was much too late.

This picture shows the bracelet under fluorescent light. It looks okay; there’s still more red in the image than is visible to the naked eye, but it’s still “brown.”

"opaque matte espresso bean" Delica in fluorescent light

Here’s what happens when you look at the bracelet under daylight, through a window:

DB1584 viewed with daylight through a windowAside from being ugly all on its own, the red shows how badly my “black or brown” choice to replace colors worked out. Ugh.

And this is what the bracelet looks like under the incandescent lights in the bathroom (the angle is weird because the lights are not usefully placed to photograph objects on the counter): DB1584 in incandescent lightYeah, it’s really bright. Really bright RED. Wow.

I don’t have a comprehensive list of the Delicas that display this change, but I’m starting to keep one. The only other problematic color I know about it DB1134 (opaque chocolate); one of my vendors shows the shift in their image of the bead.

Delica DB1134 Opaque Chocolate

There’s no fix except to avoid those colors. I am buying brown Delicas locally so I can be sure they don’t pull this nasty little stunt.

If you’ve had a similar experience with other Delica colors, or have other info on the topic, please leave a comment. I’ve poked around at Miyuki’s site but haven’t seen anything.


And for those who are interested, here’s the cuff woven with my second set of colors.

I used Hannah’s pattern because it was the most natural looking of the ones I could find.

Second time around, I assigned a different shade of dark grey to each of the original colors in Hannah’s pattern, with no brown at all. There aren’t many options for shades of black and grey in the Delica line — I tried to avoid anything with an AB or luster coating, but had to use several metallic shades to have enough colors at all.

My final’s not natural looking at all (unless you’ve galvanized your cat). But it is more realistically detailed and more interesting to look at than my first try.

Cat Eyes bracelet with no brown

WeaveWith Week 3: Maybe I should have made a bracelet

My week has been filled with much activity and very little progress. [There was a technology problem developing which gets a chunk of blame but the other half is/was me fiddling with the pattern. See below.]

I have set up my own palette for Bead Creator Pro that avoids the issues I had with too many shiny beads. Since then it’s gotten a lot closer to plug-and-play, at least (and it’s an important qualification) if I’m designing large patterns. Say 8×8″ on up.

When you’re creating a smaller pattern — one that will fit on a Lani, let’s say — you don’t have enough beads to cram in all the details. BCP can’t tell the difference between an important detail and a distracting detail, so it crams them all in there.

Squib as rendered by BCPIt is literally true that there are that many different colors going on in Squib’s fur, but the software can’t account for the fact that the human eye perceives her as a mostly black cat. (Happens all the time when you use the flash on your camera – your picture has more detail than you can see. Makes telescopes work, too. Not so good for portraits.)

Hence my restart before, where I revised the pattern to get a better balance between detail and perception. Worked great until I got to the whiskers.

Monday: whiskers. First three colors I tried completely vanished into the background. Next couple of colors contrasted nicely, but I couldn’t tell the difference between facial-detail-I’d-left-on-in-first-revision and whisker. After much testing, much unweaving and much frustration, I used the hex version of DB507. It’s an odd color for me — pink with 24kt gold iris — but it’s not overwhelmingly pink, and the differences due to the slight changes in color and cut work nicely. That gets me to Monday night.

I spent the rest of the week – ugh – weaving and unweaving to try to get Squib’s face right. I have been steadily reducing the amount of detail and darkening the bead colors, but I finally decided last night that I needed to go back and mostly-manually redraw Squib’s face the way I did below her chin.

Here’s the last revision before I decided to completely redraw her face – that appalling orange color is how BCP displays DB507 — no clue why.

Sphinx v5[Revision 1 worked great for the body but wasn’t strict enough for the face.] I’m still working on that today.

The tech problem: my monitor was dying, and I didn’t know it until it was totally dead. Until Thursday, it was pushing everything it displayed to the red end of the spectrum, so what I was seeing in the software and what the software thought it was showing were much much different than usual (which is saying a lot). Thursday night the monitor gave it up and David let me use one of his (computer artists have lots of monitors), so it wasn’t truly until Friday that I was able to work on the design and get consistent results.

I think I’ve figured out how to revamp the facial detail. Once that’s done it will only take a day or two to finish the portrait, and then I can get back to the Christmas present I’m working on, and “Hope” (the cardinal).

Word for the week: argh!

Ouch: Four rows in four hours

I wish that was a typo.

I spent this afternoon & evening trying to find a Delica color that would work for Squib’s whiskers. I know black cats are hard to illustrate in any medium. “Black” –> detail is obscured. “Detail” is what makes a picture into a portrait. But Squib adds an extra little pain to the challenge. Her whiskers are black. Black whiskers against a black cat. Ouch.

I’ve used 24 shades of grey to weave the contours of Squib’s body.  The whiskers can’t be any of those shades because they will get lost in the details of her body. I knew this. I thought I had a solution — I tried DB925, clear crystal lined in black. In the right pattern, this color almost looks like it’s floating, because the color is on the inside of the bead (not extending to the surface). Unfortunately, when I wove them into the bead tapestry with all their neighbors, the nifty sorta-3D effect got lost.

I tried silk-satin  finished greys. I tried silvery beads in iris and in gold luster. I won’t use white, because Squib did not have white whiskers.

By the time I got back to it after dinner, i was about ready to use some of the neon Delicas, but thankfully I don’t have any (yet). I ended up with DB507, 24kt pink gold iris, hex cut. There’s no pink anywhere else in the pattern, so that attracts the eye. Squib’s left side whiskers show up very clearly because they’re against a black background. There’s lots more contouring on the right side of Squib’s face, so the whiskers are harder to spot. I’m hoping that when all the whiskers are woven, the clarity of whiskers-against-black makes it easier to see whiskers-against-greys.