What Color Is That? Part 2

Last week, I talked a lot about how to talk about bead colors. The first step is figuring out the primary color of the bead, which can be incredibly straightforward or incredibly not straightforward. Assuming you’ve figured that out, let’s move on to step two.

Step two, as you may have guessed, is figuring out the secondary hue of the bead. You’ve probably heard me talk about orangey-red beads or yellowy-green beads or the ever popular blue-green beads (which are actually blue with a secondary greenish hue). For an orangey-red bead like the one below, red is the primary color.

amber bead red orangeYou might argue with me on that, but I’m going to say for the purposes of this post, the color is primarily a darker red, since that’s the color I see the most of in this bead. Once I’ve eliminated red, what’s the next color I see the most of?


Now remember, we need to say whether it’s a dark, medium, or light orange. I would call it a medium orange. So the color I would use to describe this bead would be dark red with an orange hue. Generally, when a color is the ‘medium’ variety, I eliminate the term ‘medium’ as you generally do in normal speech.

Some of you might be wondering why I called it a dark red with a medium orange hue instead of a medium red with a dark orange hue. Or why it isn’t a dark orange with a medium red hue. I promise you that I will address all this in another post, but it’s too much to include right now. The short answer is that I have looked at a large number of beads and colors, and experience plays into it. I also generally keep in mind the ‘medium’ version to determine colors before worrying about light, medium, or dark, and medium orange is very different. The bead below is a very orange bead:

See the difference?

If not, don’t worry. We’ll talk a bit more about the difficulties of color determinations in the coming weeks. For now, give the basics a try!


About Heather Christie

Heather is an archaeologist, photographer, and writer whose research focuses on beads and bead trade, particularly in a maritime sense. She's currently working working on a PhD in Digital Design (focusing on heritage visualisation) at the Glasgow School of Art.
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2 Responses to What Color Is That? Part 2

  1. Pingback: Yellow Beads | Stringing the Past

  2. Pingback: Recycled Blue-Green Bead from Thailand | Stringing the Past

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