The Color Of Language: English Color Etymologies 3

The Color Of Language: English Color Etymologies 3

This is the third post in a series on English Color Etymologies. Today we are looking at the colors that come from the names of fabrics, gems, minerals and metals.

English is a colorful language. Since its birth among the tribes of Europe, English has built its color vocabulary with the wealth of words it has inherited from Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, Latin, and Greek. Collected here are 172 colors that standard dictionaries (I used the American Heritage and the Random House) classify as specific color nouns (these do not, of course, include the standard ten – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, grey, white – or any Crayola inventions). This treasure of colors is broken down by etymological origin: is the color the name of a flower, an animal, or even a historical person? Some colors appear twice (when I felt two origins were sufficiently different). Others appear only once though they could certainly fit into several categories.

Ever wonder how a color got its name? Refer to the following and enjoy your new grasp on color!


Photo by snowriderguy

Various fabrics, often named for their city of origin, have become synonymous with specific colors.

From the Persian word for “rich cloth,” saquirlāt.
A coarse, woolen cloth for undergarments (no longer used).
A soft fabric of undyed wool.
A durable, German fabric used for making coats.
A coarse, green fabric similar to tweed.
A cloth formerly made in Lincoln, England.


Photo by cayusa

The earth is a rich source of life, and color terminology.

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DIY Color: Dye It Yourself With Kool-Aid

DIY Color: Dye It Yourself With Kool-Aid

With the help of our friend Ana we're going to take you through some ways to use Kool-Aid as a colorful, affordable and environmentally safe dye.

Kool-Aid dyeing works best with animal fibers. Which means you can dye your hair but you might have trouble with your cotton t-shirts.

What You Will Need:


  • Kool-Aid, in as many colors as you can find (try looking in your kid's, or 'Nintendo loving' roommate's, drawers)
  • Microwave or stove
  • Containers to soak, bake and cool the yarn
  • A place to dry the yarn.


Getting Started


Let the yarn soak in a dish filled with lukewarm water and a squirt of dish soap for 30 minutes until soaked all the way through.

Remember: Cover your work surfaces to protect against staining by using plastic bags.

Combine 1/2 cup water to one packet of Kool-Aid and stir until smooth.

Use the proper tool for the job. The tennis racket cocktail stirrer served multiple uses. The stick-end was used to stir up the KoolAid dye mixtures and the racket-end was great for scooping the test mini-skeins out of the hot water.

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The Colors Of GelaSkins: iPhone Skins + Wallpapers

The Colors Of GelaSkins: iPhone Skins + Wallpapers

If you're looking for a way to customize and set your iPhone apart with a little personal taste and style, you may not need to look any further than GelaSkins. Featuring some 60 artists, GelaSkins features impressive work by some amazing contemporary artists, and fills in the ranks with classic work by Van Gogh, Monet, Gustav Klimt and Kurt Vonnegut.

While I am unaware of what kind of compensation each artist receives in exchange for the rights to their work, I do like the fact that they are supporting new artists, and GelaSkins says they are always on the lookout for new talent to feature, which in addition to wallpapers and skins, includes coverage on their design + culture blog.

The new skin designs and free matching wallpapers that many companies have been coming out with lately are a pretty big jump in the right direction from older styles of skins that were mostly just awkward and annoying, and only came in a limited number of colors.

The skins are available online and in selected stores nationwide. You can also create your own skins and put whatever questionable illustration, painting, or photograph that you might have, on your iPhone for all your friends to see.

Color Inspiration from GelaSkins

Here are four works that caught my eye when I was browsing through the lineup of artist.

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The Colorful Art Of Camera Tossing

The Colorful Art Of Camera Tossing

Who exactly threw the first camera may be hard to know for sure, but the viral spread of awareness, and popularity, of the photographic technique known as Camera Tossing has been attributed to the Camera Toss flickr group and its creator Ryan Gallagher. Currently, the original flickr group has 5,000 members with nearly 3,500 submitted photos. In total there are some 15,000 photos tagged 'cameratoss' on flickr.

With the spread of its popularity around the internet the technique has quickly gained acceptance and legitimacy, with subsequent articles, gallery showings and image licensing from companies such as Adobe, who use camera tossing images for some of their packaging.

Camera Tossing Basics

Photo by clickykbd + clickykbd


It is exactly what it sounds like. To achieve the proper results first realize there are no proper results and just throw your camera in the air. Try to remember to push the shutter first and, of course, to catch the camera.

For more information on camera tossing and the camera tossing community a good place to start is Camera Toss (The Blog).

Photo by daddy0h


The current interest in this rather bizarre form of photography stems from the creation of the Camera Toss interest group on flickr. I (my flickr page) created this interest group after doing quite a bit of throwing my camera and enjoying the process and results. Essentially, I thought others might enjoy doing it or looking at the results so I shared them as I went. It also embodied some very core ideas about art that I find fascinating.

Photo by davespilbrow

How it went from there to getting linked everywhere, having a blog that at times attracts thousands of visitors a day, getting covered by the printed media, and needing this Mini-HOWTO is another story. If you are curious here is a good theory on such things. Regardless of everyone's individual reasons for viewing or participating, it apparently had all the right ingredients to capture imagination and continue spreading.

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Color Inspiration From fazai38

Color Inspiration From fazai38

Here at COLOURlovers we love all of our members. Everyday we come across new colors, palettes and patterns that inspire us, and once in while we find a member who is working as hard; well, almost as hard, as us to spread the love of color on their own.

One member, fazai38, who has continued to impress the community also has his own blog that is an inspiration to us. Many of the post at utilize the features of COLOURlovers using them to create incredible photo and palette color inspiration posts.

So, to keep spreading the love of our community we thought we would highlight some of his palettes to inspire those who haven't come across his work or blog.

fazai38 is a multimedia designer and blogger who lives in Malaysia.

The Illustrations of Nastia and Palettes of fazai38

China Tea Time

Nastia is a wonderful person who currently lives in Moscow, Russia, and she's working as an illustrator and graphic designer because she sort of loves doing that. And, coming to think about it, that alone makes her quite a successful young lady if you ask me. Yes, I do know that nobody ever asks me, but the whole story about one doing what one loves and lives happy because of that actually does sound believable. So, here's unexpected bit of free advice - "if you don't like moving boxes, you shouldn't be in the box-moving industry". You just quit that and you'll be as happy as she is, that's for sure.


Anyway, we really should get back to her story. As you probably don't know, since you had no way of finding that out, in the past she had changed some of occupations and places. She traveled around a lot, smiling politely and stating that "meeting people is easy" and "hey, now, that's just zany!". She studied graphic design in Moscow academy of prints and celebrated that by having a remarkably red hairdo for three consecutive years. Also, she worked for a whole bunch of different companies around the world, which were unusually happy while she was there with them and a lot less happy after she would leave. Oh, and she considers herself to be a tornado expert because she lived in Germany for couple of years and there's nobody currently here to prevent her from claiming she's a tornado expert.
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Colors Of The Night Sky

Colors Of The Night Sky

While daydreamers are famous for spending their afternoons gazing out of their office windows, there's something to be said for the night sky as well -- its intense hues go far beyond an average black sky. Of course, seeing those different colors is all a matter of your where and when. Here are a few examples of how to see the earth's canvas at its most brilliant.

Photo by mafleen

Blood Moon
The blood moon is also known as the "Hunter's Moon" or "Sanguine Moon." While folklore warns that a blood moon is a sign of bad times, the red star of night is anything but. The name "Hunter's Moon" originates from the fact that this moon cast a brilliant light, allowing hunters to continue to seek prey even at nighttime. Around the time these moons are seen in the sky, there is very little darkness between sunset and moonrise, also making it a favorable time for farmers to work on their crops after sunset (this moon is sometimes called Harvest Moon as well.) This is because the plane of Earth's orbit around the sun makes a narrow angle as far as the horizon is concerned at this time of year. No matter how much fact stands behind blood moons, some people still continue to think of them as harbingers of doom (but they are really quite the opposite!)

Photo by khalid almasoud

While there's no science behind the beauty of skylines, they certainly hold powerful sway over people, whether it is their own beloved city they are gazing over or someone else's. Some of the most famous skylines include New York, Paris, Las Vegas, Tokyo, and San Francisco, and it is very popular to photograph them (panoramic shots definitely do the most justice.) The skyline above is Kuwait, gorgeously accented by shades of paprika.

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Artists In Color: Ruth Root + Kenji Hirata

Artists In Color: Ruth Root + Kenji Hirata

The power of color is best shown by an artist whose ideas and work can challenge others and create thoughts and environments that we, the observers, could not see on our own, changing not only the physical space in front of us but also our own created mindset.

Today we are featuring two contemporary painters whose work happens to be perfect for palette inspiration Ruth Root and Kenji Hirata.

Ruth Root

Ruth Root’s large scale geometric panels draw from the lineage of non-objective painting. Evoking reference to Piet Mondrian, Ellsworth Kelly, and Olivier Mosset, Root’s playfully orchestrated compositions engage with the fundamental principles of formalism while simultaneously interacting with contemporary modes of interpretation.

Rendered on shaped, ultra-thin aluminium sheeting, Root’s paintings corrupt the idea of pre-fab form. Confined to the curvilinear borders of her canvas, Root’s componentized swatches of colour reveal an unorthodox organic quality transgressing the tradition of the grid as sigmoid fields, and allowing the seamless application of her paint to slightly bevel at the sharply cropped edges. Root’s paintings are often exhibited flush to the gallery walls, creating an allusion to decaled logotypes and an optical intervention with architectural space.

Though primarily concerned with the tautology of painting itself, Root is often inspired by the phenomenon of urban experience. Her bold industrial colours and aesthetically ordered geometries invoke cityscapes, product design, and 1960s technographics. The liminal quality of her paintings elicits dialogue with digitised media: the consummate flatness of her paintings condenses the illusions of solidity and space into virtual fields, compelling in their dynamic assertion and physically insubstantiality.
- Saatchi Gallery

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The Color Of Language: English Color Etymologies 2

The Color Of Language: English Color Etymologies 2

This is the second post in a series on English Color Etymologies. Today we are looking at the colors that come from the names of food and drinks, fruits and vegetables, along with other miscellaneous names.

English is a colorful language. Since its birth among the tribes of Europe, English has built its color vocabulary with the wealth of words it has inherited from Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, Latin, and Greek. Collected here are 172 colors that standard dictionaries (I used the American Heritage and the Random House) classify as specific color nouns (these do not, of course, include the standard ten – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, brown, black, grey, white – or any Crayola inventions). This treasure of colors is broken down by etymological origin: is the color the name of a flower, an animal, or even a historical person? Some colors appear twice (when I felt two origins were sufficiently different). Others appear only once though they could certainly fit into several categories.

Ever wonder how a color got its name? Refer to the following and enjoy your new grasp on color!


Photos by roboppy & waynemah

Things we eat, from wine to liver, have become associated with color.

The fatty component of unhomogenized milk.
Coffee with milk (from the French).
A small cake (from “biscuit”).
A small cake (from the French “twice-cooked”).
A beverage made from the powder of cacao seeds.
The beverage made from roasting and grinding the seeds of the coffee plant.
Burnt sugar.
The vertebrate organ, considered edible.
A dry, red wine made in France’s Bordeaux region.
A beverage made from fermented grape juice.
Fermented, roasted, shelled, and ground seeds from the cacao plant.


Photos by nidriel & targophoto

More specific than foods alone, many fruits and vegetables names have also become the name of the color of their skin.

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Colors Of A Cause: The Color Orange Project

Colors Of A Cause: The Color Orange Project

Can China ban the color orange? That is the question that is being asked by the Color Orange Project.

Launched by artist Jens Galschiot, the Color Orange Project was created to highlight the violations of human rights in China for the 2008 Olympic Games. The Idea is that the strict censorship in China will limit traditional signs of protest but that it will be impossible for the government to ban the color orange.

As much as I love paraphrasing I'd rather let you read what the creators of the project have to say about it.

The Color Orange Project: Appeal

Can China ban The Color Orange?

Take part in checkmating the Chinese regime and making a global manifestation for human rights.

We hereby encourage you to join the initiative with the aim of showing China - during the Olympics in August 2008 - that we are many people who are keeping an eye on China's human rights violations.

The idea is both sophisticated and simple. By using something with the color orange during the Olympics - both inside and outside of China - you are sending a signal to the world that something is wrong in China. It can be anything, like an orange hat, camera bag, tie, pen, paper, dress, suit, bag etc. Even pealing an orange will be considered a pronounced statement.

No political or religious movement can claim to have a monopoly of the initiative. By participating in the project you show that you support the fight for human rights in China.

The Chinese Government wants to present the Olympics as perfect and streamlined to billions of television viewers around the globe with the aim of promoting China as a modern and efficient society. They will do anything it takes to avoid getting criticized on television. However, by using the Color Orange we are exactly capable of breaking with the harsh censorship and embitter the joy of the regime. At the same time, millions of oppressed Chinese people will have a voice during the Olympics 2008.

The Olympic Charter stipulates as fundamental Olympic principles: "the respect for universal fundamental ethical principles" and the promotion of "a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity". Nobody can fairly claim that the Chinese regime is living up to these standards. On the contrary, the usage of the orange color will be an ethical and non-political statement that is indeed in deep harmony with the fundamental principles of the Olympic movement.

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History Of The Color Wheel

History Of The Color Wheel

The first color wheel has been attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, who in 1706 arranged red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet into a natural progression on a rotating disk. As the disk spins, the colors blur together so rapidly that the human eye sees white. From there the organization of color has taken many forms, from tables and charts, to triangles and and wheels the history.

Using text from Sarah Lowengard's The Creation of Color in Eighteenth-Century Europe we're taking a look at the progression of color organization systems and how the color wheel came to be.
"Number Order Form: Color Systems and Systemization" is only one section of the work. It is is available on an open access/free access at Columbia University Press(click here).

A successful color ordering system requires an appropriate shape, the correct number of colors to include, and the proper medium in which to present its information.

The First Color Organization Systems

Gautier's color-printed picture accompanied one of his many anti-Newtonian publications about color theories. The band of color at the center imitates an illustration in Newton's Opticks but "proves" Gautier's assertion that all colors cannot be found in Newton's spectrum of light.

What is the simplest design that can communicate a relationship among colors? It might be no more than a bar or line, perhaps based on the shape that appears when light is passed through a prism. Bars of colors convey two basic ideas: Color exists and it has a regular order. A linear form hints at a progression that can be linked to wavelengths or cycles, but it does not accomplish much more. It does not suggest complexities of color relationships and so does not validate other aspects of either practices or ideas. The shape and the placement of color may not be arbitrary, but the value of the system is limited.

Color Tables and Charts

Color tables expand the color bar, literally and figuratively. They offer a similarly recognizable display of information, but one that suggests interior relationships through size, shape, or placement of the colored areas.

Richard Waller's Basic Chart

Richard Waller's, 1686

Noting the lack of a standard for colors in natural philosophy, and inspired by a similar table published in Stockholm, Richard Waller indicated that his "Table of Physiological Colors Both Mixt and Simple," (created in 1686) would permit unambiguous descriptions of the colors of natural bodies. To describe a plant, for example, one could compare it to the chart and use the names found there to identify the colors of the bark, wood, leaves, etc. Similar applications of the information collected in the chart might also extend to the arts and trades, he suggested.

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