Achieving color illusion in longarm quilting – Part 2: Luster
Welcome to our three-part series on creating magical color effects in your quilts! We explored how to create the illusion of transparency in Part 1. This blog post focuses on luster, and we’ll cover luminosity in Part 3.
If you are new to color, you may want to review my APQS blog series on Color: Part 1 Hue and Value, Part 2 Intensity and Neutrals and Part 3 Putting It All Together. If you want a refresher on color relationship terms, see this post on color by Dawn Cavanaugh.
When we create luster with fabric, we’re creating the illusion that light is moving across the surface. In the block above, the gradated shading of the turquoise fabrics moves your eye across the block. The key to doing this is to have the values in order from light to dark. In the blocks below, you can see that the effect is ruined if the value order is mixed up.
This is the correct approach with the values in order.
Here you can see how the effect is ruined with the values are out of order.
A color wheel is very useful to get everything in order – I recommend Joen Wolfrom’s Color Tool (available from my website) as the best for quilters. It has 24 different colors with a large range of values.
Putting it all together
Get out some fabric and give this cool color effect a try – it’s really fun! Here are some tips:
- The effect is easiest to create with fabrics from the same color family (monochromatic).
- The effect can be done with analogous colors (in color wheel order), but the colors must be in color wheel order as well as value order.
- Try to have a smooth transition of values. Take a photo and use the black-and-white filter to accurately see the value.
I created this quilt, Luscious Luster (pattern available here), to teach the principle of luster.
Here’s another pattern I created, Luster Strippy, that you can download for free from the APQS blog.
Jinny Beyer is the master of luster. Here’s a quilt I made with one of her patterns. See more on her website.
Ask yourself – how could you incorporate luster into your next quilt?
Coming up in Part 3
Join me in Part 3 where we’ll explore luminosity – the illusion of glowing light. If you’ve enjoyed this blog about color, you might also enjoy my APQS blog post about choosing threads.