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History of Hues: Black

Updated: May 31, 2022

In this edition of History of Hues, we will learn about the color black! Renoir, a famous French artist who was a leading painter in the development of the Impressionist style said, “Nature knows only colors... white and black are not colors.” While black is not found in nature, it is a color that most people are familiar with.

Black has been a color that symbolizes death as far back as we can trace. In all religions and mythologies, the Gods or idols that represent death are associated with black in their clothes or likeness. However, according to Genesis, the world was created from black, so it is not all doom and gloom.

Wearing black clothing became popular in the 1300s. At this time better methods for dyeing black cloth were developed. Prior to this time, black was a double dye method first dyeing the fabric with woad (dark blue) and then overdyeing with madder (reddish-brown)

A less labor-intensive method was discovered and allowed women to dye the color at home. A combination of oak gall, vitriol, and gum arabic was combined and boiled with the fabric to achieve a consistent lustrous black. This process was easy for dyers but hard on the fibers and did not create durable fabrics. This inexpensive method to dye black made black a widespread fashionable color.

At this time there were also laws about who could wear certain colors. Black was acceptable for wealthy merchants, court officers, clergy, and domestics. This covered a wide array of the population further locking in black as a leading fashion color.

Black has remained a popular fashion color, showing up on runways and at retail. Black furniture and accent pieces are a way to make things stand out in a room. Painting walls black is a bold statement and creates a feeling of rich coziness and mystery.

At the drape, we like the juxtaposition of black furniture and light-colored curtains because they offer a striking contrast. You can get the opposite effect by hanging black drapery with light walls. The room darkener window panel in black is our choice for creating a cozy, sleepy den. The tonal texture on this fabric adds depth and luxury to the room, contrasting the windows from the walls. This curtain is woven to reduce the amount of light allowed to pass through the fabric. If pitch black is the goal, add the blackout lining to this fabric.

Designing window curtains should be fun and we are here to help. Order free swatches and schedule a free consultation with our design team to get tips on measuring and hanging curtain rods.


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