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"Color Wash" or "Watercolor Quilts"
Playing with Color and Value

*Check this page for more about the meaning of Color and Value*

Many of the quilts in PIECES are done using a technique called "watercolor" or "color wash".  To do this the quilter arranges squares so that colors or values (dark or light) cluster together or change gradually. Color wash is lots of fun, but takes a lot of squares and time to try different combinations until you find the one that works. 

In the background of  "To Each His Own" I started with light yellow squares at the top, changed to deeper yellow, then gold, orange, reds and finally ended up with dark browns at the bottom. 

For "Encore" and "Misplaced"  I used very dark floral prints for my outside borders, then worked in patches of yellows, reds, purples and pinks, until I got to my white center.

I also used color-wash technique in "Silhouettes" and "Shadows",  "Noontime" and "Rock and Roll", and the  "Nose Knows" and "Mirage" quilt. 

The following activities can be done with value or color, or both. You could go from light to dark values, or change color from blue to green to yellow, or yellow to orange to red to brown, or red to purple to blue. 

You will need squares of different colors and/or values, either paper or fabric.

Paper squares can be cut from garden or home decorating catalogs, gift wrap, or wallpaper samples.  Designs or pictures on the squares can be large or small; a variety is good. Evenly spaced overall patterns don't work as well as those with more random designs. Choose patterns that have at least three colors, some with big and some small motifs, some light and some dark. A variety of values is very important. 

The main idea is for your squares to have lots of variety i color, value and pattern.

5 x 5 grid
2 inch squares in a range of values 25 or more (more is better) 
glue or paste . (I tried to make a printable one, but 
Sort squares according to value making 3 piles (light, medium and dark), or 5 piles (light, medium-light, medium, medium-dark, and dark).

Arrange squares on the grid to make a quilt block.

   Some possible ways are: 
             Dark or light center:                         Dark and light corners: 

  Light and dark on the diagonal:      Dark or light center diagonal:          Dark cross or light cross:     

  Dark to light stripes:                          Examples using color change rather than value:
Make at least three more blocks like the first. (If working in a group each person could make a block and then combine them in one "quilt".)
Arrange blocks in a quilt pattern.
Can you move or turn the blocks to change the quilt pattern?
How many different ways can you find to arrange the blocks?
Example: Using this block with dark squares in the corner...
You could arrange four blocks...
with all blocks going the same way...                            with dark corners in the center...

   with light corners in the center....                        alternating to make a striped pattern.

Can you find more ways?        
What happens to these patterns when you add more blocks?

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