The book "Cakes of Color" has reached it's next step in production. I finalized the 7th test kitchen cake last week — red cake. Now I am deep into color research. Each cake recipe has an accompanying mono-print illustration and a historical note on the meaning and origins of it's dye-birth. Yesterday, I handed off some hex colors (a number) to a client to guide the specification of the product I recently designed and delivered to them. I felt slightly depressed afterwards. The colors, limestone green and ochre gray have history in ancient China's silk road and India's Hindu Gods. The challenges of making green from a vat of mud — stories of the Hindu God Krishna who charms cows with his flute; how Indian Yellow became deep ochre with earth minerals of brown and the herb Saffron. The mystery of color evolution is endless. There is no one answer or discovery — it all blends into a shared history of invention.
These stories, in addition to hard won color science discoveries are threaded into their names throughout history. Green can carry over 1k of variations and names — a history of discoveries very few know today. In * Mongolia there are over 300 names for horses. Pantone is removing names by the year. Because we are in a digital age and computers don't need names, they require numbers.
Scientists at **Johns Hopkins University measured the light of the universe and concluded the color was Pale Turquoise. They later corrected that (embarrassed) that this finding was a computer error and it is actually what they now call Cosmic Latte — off white. So there it is another side to the dark side of computing. We need it but accuracy is a tale of caution.
I'm a romantic and have a cozy affiliation with the processes and people that brought color alive in history. The dye pigments have stories within stories, adventures and lives and have earned their names that are now being slowly erased. My hope in my lil' "Cakes of Color" book is that the colors become taste memories. I imagine (colored with idealism, pun intended} the sweetness of the cakes and special notes on their color history and meaning ... that people will eat color with renewed appreciation wonderful celebration memories. I hope to give people a story to tell amongst friends at the dinner table.
Now, when it comes to the birds, it's a different matter entirely. I doubt they care about color history but take every affordance to squawk out their emotions. The yellow bird is a joiner — she's a follower all the way. Redbird is hungry — it's the attitude he carries with the most conviction. And so it goes with moody birds and the "Cosmic Latte" of our shared humanity.
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Footnotes: * "Color" Victoria Finlay p. 395 **"Color" Victoria Finlay p. 395, 429