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History of Hues: White

Updated: May 31, 2022

This edition of History of Hues is all about white. The color that has no color. White objects reflect and scatter all visible wavelengths of light. On a phone screen or a computer screen, white is created by a mixture of red, blue, and green light.

Who says white is “plain”? White is certainly basic but in the best way. There's a lot of power in that simplicity. The neutrality of white allows other colors and textures to shine through. But in a different space, white can act as a partner to the other colors in the space, much like the yin and yang. Because of this, there's nothing plain about decorating with white. It’s a wonderful way to express a sense of cleanness, freshness, brightness, and calm. At the drape, we see white for all that it can be, and embrace its potential to inspire!

White is the color of sunny day clouds, fresh clean sheets, and wedding days. Its use in art can be traced all the way back to the earliest works of art, the Stone Age cave paintings made with kaolin or calcite. It almost seems unnecessary to say that white symbolizes purity, cleanliness, and light. In Feng Shui, white is connected to metal elements and is balance by wood and glass.

Paleolithic artists used white to draw bulls and other animals in the Lascaux Cave in France. These drawings were created between 18,000 and 17,000 years ago using the mineral calcite.

The mineral calcite is a kind of limestone. Originally, limestone was deposited under the sea as the scales of tiny microorganisms called coccolithophore. This is what was used to create the first white pigment that the cave artists used.

Fabric in its natural state is called greige fabric. Before bleach, the process to clean and whiten the fabric was called Fulling, and the people who did this job were called fullers. The earliest fulling mill dates back to 1086 in Normandy France. There are two steps to fulling: scouring and thickening.

Scouring is conducted by standing ankle-deep in tubs of stale human urine and cloth. Walking around in these tubs was an act of"washing” the fabric. The urine was a source of ammonium salts that cleansed and whitened the cloth. The second step in the process is thickening. The fuller stomped the fabric in knee-deep stale urine for seven to eight hours. The cloth is then spread out on the ground to be bleached by the sun. After this, the cloth is rinsed and hung to dry.

Thankfully, in modern textile production, the fabric is bleached. Oxidative bleaching is the process for natural fibers using sodium hypochlorite, sodium chlorite or sulfuric acid. For polyester and other synthetic fabrics, reductive bleaching is done with sodium hydrosulfite.

To create a whiter white, an optical brightener is added. This is a chemical compound that absorbs light in the ultraviolet and violet region.

White is versatile—its ability to go with everything is the result of the reflection of all the wavelengths of the visible light spectrum, allowing it to naturally coordinate with nearly any color. Using white provides space for bright colors to breathe. Pairing whites with soothing pastels creates a zen-like calm.

The mood of a gloomy room can be lifted with the addition of white for the windows. Or go full out with a fashion-forward monochromatic all-white room that showcases your life with a curated, artistic feel. In a teeny-tiny room, pairing white or off-white walls with light, bright cotton panels adds the feel of more space. For an added illusion, hang the curtains all the way to the ceiling to draw the eyes upward and provide even more space.

Does white sound like the right fit for your home? Wrap your windows in softness with our soothing white cotton canvas or add some texture using our white in the linen. Since your order is customized, you get to have the exact look you want. Do you want a clean, crisp tailored look, or the air of opulence that a pair of perfectly pooled drapes provide? We'd love to help you decide—just contact us!


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