Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Studies in Black

Black is such an interesting color... I love using it in jewelry. The variety of stones in so many different textures really makes for some interesting creations. Black Onyx, Black Agate and Black Tourmaline are some of my favorites. Pictured above are some recent creations.

In color theory, black is all colors, mixed. In lighting, black is the lack of any light, yet black will absorb light. Two opposite concepts, that apply to the same color. In metaphysics, Black is considered to be very protective... think black dirt of the Earth, able to protect a tiny, vulnerable seed while it germinates. I believe alot of the Goth dressers are like that - feeling vulnerable, so they wear aggressive black clothing in order to protect themselves, and tell the world to keep away. Black can also be like coal - with the ability to transmute into something extremely valuable (diamonds) or to provide the heat for other transformations - like grilling a great steak! Black is the night time, which encourages rest, reflection, and intimacy. Black is mysterious, with the ability to hide at will.

In Europe of the 15th century, black was the color of death and considered an evil color. Black cats were burned (causing an increase in the plague-carrying rat population), and the plague was called "Black Plague." However, Puritains considered black one of the appropriate colors for clothing, as did certain religious orders. Maybe because it washed out the complexions of the wearers and made them less likely to attract attention? Black is a difficult color to dye evenly and make it last, as anyone who has a favorite black cotton sweater will tell you. Old inks were generally brown, because of the difficulty in achieving a lasting black. Nowdays, with our chemical-based dyes, we have stable black inks, and our black clothes stay blacker longer!

In earlier cultures, black was thought of as a gift, not a curse. Night time was when you got to rest, and it was truly a relief from hard labors. Death was just a part of the life-cycle, and, although it was sad, it was often celebrated in ways that our modern culture finds difficult to fathom. Death was a transformation to the next step of the journey, not a total end. I rather like the protective, restful, and transformative associations with black.

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