Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Even Pollinators Gravitate to Certain Colors

Himalayan Blue Poppy

Himalayan flowers have evolved to attract bees as pollinators, scientists have found for the first time. The study has implications for understanding the effects of climate change on plant pollination. 

Biologists from Monash University and RMIT University investigated the evolution of flower colors due to the bee's color vision. 

They researched in the understudied Nepalese steep mountainous terrain, and other subtropical environments. 

Associate Professor Adrian Dyer of Monash and RMIT said previous studies had shown that flower color evolved to attract bees as pollinators in temperate environments, but the story for either subtropical or steep mountainous environments had been unknown. 

"Mountainous environments provide an ideal natural experiment to understand the potential effects of changing climatic conditions on plant-pollinator interactions, since many pollinators show preferences for localized conditions, and major pollinators like honeybees do not tend to forage at high altitudes," Dyer said. 

Using computer models to examine flower colors as bees would see them; the team
 addressed how pollinator vision had shaped flower evolution. 

Then, with associate professor Martin Burd, of the Monash University's School of Biological Sciences, they did phylogenetic analyses to identify how altitude zones affected results. 

Shrestha said flowers from both subtropical (900-2000m) and alpine (3000-4100m) regions showed evidence of having evolved color spectral signatures to enhance discrimination by bee pollinators. 

"The finding was a surprise as flies are thought to be the main pollinator in many mountain regions, but it appears that in the Himalayas several bee species are also active at high altitude, and these insects have been such effective pollinators that they have led to the evolution of distinctive bee-friendly colours," Shrestha said. 

The research could shed light on how flower colors may continue to evolve in particular environments, depending upon the availability of the most effective pollinators. 

While 'bee colors' were prevalent at all elevations, flower colors in high altitude zones were more diverse and had more often undergone larger steps of evolutionary change than those at lower elevation, Burd said. 

The study was published in the Journal of Ecology.

Himalayan Blue Poppy

Don't you love it that bees have favorite colors? Butterflies too. BBL 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The History of Colored Garments

The desire for colorful clothing has driven people for centuries to develop ways to enable them to stand our from the masses. 

Catherine McNiff sheds some light on how people in ancient times created colors for their garments:

Since people have been wearing clothes, they have sought ways to make their garments more attractive, more aesthetically pleasing—more colorful. Greek philosophers Democritus and Aristotle and Roman writers Pliny the Elder and Vitruvius described and recorded recipes and processes to create fabric dyes. Most dyes derived from plants or animals, which ranged from the ordinary to the exotic.


Blues and purples were known as vat dyes. Indigo and woad, a European flowering herb of the mustard family, were used to make blue dyes. These plants required lengthy immersion in an alkaline solution of ash, lime, or most commonly, urine, which turned them into a water-soluble salt. The fabric was then left to air-dry; oxidation made the blue color fast.


At the other end of the financial (if not color) spectrum was the Tyrian, or royal, purple derived from the mucous gland of the murex, a mollusk. Not surprisingly, harvesting this color—a pound of dye required four million mollusks—was a labor-intensive, time-consuming, and smelly process. (The ancient Phoenician city of Tyre, from which the dye gets its name, was known for its reek of rotting mollusks.) Only the rich, such as the reigning emperor or monarch, could afford this shade, whose acquisition would ensure that his heir would be born "into the purple." Hope for the common people lay in the lichen orchil, the poor person's purple, which produced a purplish hue after a two- to three-week ammonia immersion.


Reds were mordant dyes; they required the use of a fixative to create an insoluble color that would remain true. Henna, a shrub, and madder, a root, were mixed with alum (a sulphate of aluminum and potassium) to render a color family far less intense than the red we know today. A species of female scale insect, kermes, was used by the Egyptians and produced a more vivid red. Similarly, cochineal dye was used by the Aztecs with great effort (70,000 insects for one pound of dye) and to great effect, ultimately becoming Mexico's most lucrative export after silver.


Colors in the yellow family were the least complicated. They were direct dyes, produced with little drama. Weld, the seeds, stems, and leaves of Dyer's Rocket; and safflower, petals from Dyer's Thistle, were used to create yellows

Read more: The History of Color |

Have a colorfilled day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Man's Point of View about Color

Color fascinates me, it pleases my eye, as a kid the louder it was the more I was drawn to it, had a teacher tell me once that was because I was ndn.
I don’t know if that’s true or not as people everywhere seem to be attracted to color, even going so far as to dye their hair blue, orange, or some other hue.
And then there’s that tie dye thing that is singularly about color.
If you’ve ever been to pow wow you know it is a celebration of color among other things, the brighter the better.
The pomp and circumstance of grand entries, women’s shawls, dresses, and leggings.
Not to be outdone we men can be just as color conscious where in the day to day our“fashion sense” may run to the more sedate and utilitarian.
The whirling and dancing at pow wow can be likened to a kaleidoscope when at times in the changing of focus colors blur into one another during the transition as though paint thrown on a canvas by an artist like Jackson Pollock.
As a people we used to apply paint to our horses and adorn their manes and tails, still do depending on occasion or personal inclination.
I’ll stop to admire a flower, leaves, bugs, or anything colorful that catches my eye, but it’s more than admiration, it is wonder and awe at the intricacy and the purpose it serves.
With flowers it is about attracting pollinators, bugs, maybe to camoflauge or ward off a predator, and it is a gift that our visionary sense allows us to perceive color, it would be pretty drab if the opposite were true.
A truly blue sky is guaranteed to win my admiration, especially if it includes puffy white clouds or dark ones rolling in ladened with thunder and lightning.
And I learned long ago if a woman asks if the color of garment she is wearing works to always say yes, or the opposite if they ask if it makes them look fat.
The funny thing about color is that while it can attract people it can also repel them when it comes to ethnicity, that never made sense to me and I’ve thought of it as judging a book by it’s cover – no telling what we might miss if we make a judgement based only on the cover.
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Color Blocking

Maria Killam, the interior decorator from Vancouver, B.C. gives more fabulous advice; I could not explain color blocking any better, so I indulged my copy and paste computer skills to bring you her savvy advice:

The following are 5 ways to add instant Happiness to your space with colour blocking:
1. Colour blocking is a fabulous and inexpensive way to create artwork! As the article in the 2002 issue of House & Home Magazine (where I clipped the above image from way back then) says, "You can follow your heart and stop being bossed around by your walls"). 
In this great example above, a twig runner was added to create texture and instant art! I also created that here with my loft client because we had so much wall space to fill!
Images from House & Home Magazine
2. Creates an instant focal point. I love the way the back walls of the shelves were painted a stronger colour because they are recessed to visually link the fireplace wall to the displayed objects on the shelves! And if you don't have an obvious focal point like the fireplace wall, you can create one just the same way with just a quart of paint!
3. Colour blocking provides eye catching contrast, like in this image above with white walls and alternating shades of yellow and orange!
4. It creates a strong and graphic statement. In this kitchen chalkboard paint was used which makes it practical as well! And this effect is even more enhanced by the red chair and vintage fridge.
5. You can even hang colourful panels of fabric on the wall for a really fun and inexpensive way to change up your interior.
Colour blocking is also a great way to define an open space, for example you could paint a block of colour in the dining room area of a large space to create an instant feeling of coziness. I prefer the look of blocking colour like the ways I've shown above to accent walls because I think they are a little more intentional and artsy looking.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Happy Blues

I've mentioned my admiration for Maria Killim, the Canadian interior decorator, before. The following post, from 2012, is so right on about how to use a happy color, I had to share. Colour=Canadian speak for our American color.


Photo by Maria Killam
At one of the CMG Conferences a speaker once said 'If you want to know which direction colour is going, check out the towel department.'
So a couple weeks ago I snapped this photo of a stack of bright blue and yellow towels when I was out sourcing accessories for a client.
Towels don't collect dust sitting on shelves like other products do so it makes sense that there's more turnover in product, therefore new colours can appear faster. (That's my take, if you have a more accurate one, please post a comment below).
Isn't this blue entry breathtaking? The styling certainly helps but this photo is a great example of happy blues taking over from gray blues.
For years the only place I've ever chosen a blue like this was for a kids room. When I saw those blue and yellow towels, I had this sudden urge to run home and paint my main bathroom this exact colour.
Remember the post I wrote 'What everyone should know about blue'? The bottom line was that light blues need to be sufficiently grayed so that they don't look like baby blue on the walls. But if you take that same gray blue and go darker, you end up with a mans den or teenage boys room.
Take a brighter blue though and go darker like the above photo and you end up with happy!
What do you think? Do you see this blue making it's way into your house anytime soon?