In ancient Greek mythology, Iris is the personification of a rainbow. She makes a rainbow bridge to travel between the heavens and waters below to fetch drinks for the gods in Olympus. The freedom to travel between these worlds allows her to be the messenger, the communicator between mortals and immortals. Folks usually ‘wish upon a star,’ but next time I see a rainbow, I’ll give my hopes to Iris so she can carry them where they need to be heard.
Speaking of rainbows and communication, I think of Lori Graham as our very own ‘Iris in Residence.’ She’s our color impresario, the master dyer and co-owner of Of The Earth. She creates glorious rainbows of ribbons using sustainable practices. She obsesses about shades, and recently I took an opportunity to speak with her about color.
Q: Lori, besides the lovely ribbons of cotton and silk for Of The Earth, do you dye other materials?
Lori: Yes, I used to dye wool and cotton fabric using natural and chemical dyes.
Q: What were your favorite colors when you were younger?
Lori: When I was young, it was pink pink pink! Pink duvet, bedspread, pink lace – all pink – all the time. Then in my early twenties, lots of black. Now it’s orange.
Q: When new Pantone colors are released, do you generally agree with their trend sense?
Lori: I am interested in their bridal color forecast. That’s what I pay attention to because that’s what my clients will ask for. But I’m not always jazzed about the Pantone forecast and dread the “muted” or ambiguous tones that I’ll need to develop. For example, ‘seafoam’ (324, 324-5, 534, or 515?) and ‘merlot’ (093, 030, 247-5, or 232-5?) Both can be imagined in so many different ways.
Q: What is the most difficult color to achieve?
Lori: Right now I would have to say it’s “warm black.”
Black is a finicky mixture of colors and achieving the subtle differences in black shades is more of an art than a science. You’ve probably seen how when bleach splashes on black clothes, you get a lighter blotch, but it’s not grey or “pale black.” You may see a green, purple, orange, or blue blotch.
Lori continues: Regardless of ingredient inconsistencies, we are determined to create true colors for our clients. In the past, ‘warm black’ may have been a two step process. But more alterations and futzing is required when the original ingredients are different. So, we keep copious notes and are constantly working to ensure that our shades match our swatches. Our colors are definitely a secret recipe!
Q: Do you dream in color, and when you dress up to go out, what is your happiest celebration color?
Lori: Yes, I definitely dream in color and I feel best wearing the colors of a candle’s flame: red, bright orange, fiery yellow and teal blue of the hottest part.