An eclectic blog about beads, beading and beyond

Monday, March 29, 2010

A positive turn to shades of grey - is it possible?

I am about to continue beading for a possible submission to this month's Etsy Beadweaver's challenge (see the work in progress). It is a very grey wet autumn morning here in Drysdale (South East Australia). The rain is very welcome after a dry summer but I have never loved grey – whether it’s in the sky or in a paint tin. I find it depressing. I think it was the shades of bluish-grey in my winter secondary school uniform that began my dislike of grey and my associations of it with things depressing. Grey winter skies meant the grey school uniform that meant grey school days of full of boring lessons that never seemed to end. I am not the only person in the world to find grey depressing. Star Trek: The Next Generation writers penned an episode in their second series called Shades of Grey in a sharp thorn growing on a vine plant on an alien planet pricks Commander William Riker and infects him with a deadly virus. The image of Riker in the very grey swamp reminds me how depressing grey can be. (Link below to the image of Commander Riker.)

A short aside – apparently, Shades of Gray is what is known as clip show. The majority of the episode is made up of clips from previous episodes. It was made when writers where on strike and to create an episode that didn’t need the writers the producers created a story in which Riker remembered past events.

Similarly, in Shades of Grey 1: The Road to High Saffron, the first novel in the Shades of Grey series by Jasper Fforde the colour grey goes to depressingly new depths. The novel is based 500 years into the future and is set in a society where a person’s ability to see colour is linked to their social status. Fforde calls the society a Colortocracy. In the Colortocracy, the Greys, who are people without the ability to see any natural colour, hold the lowest positioning the social order. Imagine only seeing grey in your world. How would that be?

Grey has also had a negative socio-political history. Martin Bormann, when he was executive secretary for Hitler was called the grey eminence because he controlled access to the F├╝hrer and gained great power from this, and in the USA, members of the neo-facist The National Renaissance Party which was active from 1949 to 1979 were known as the grey shirts. On a lighter political note the former British Prime Minister John Major's puppet on the UK TV show Spitting Image was entirely grey to mark how boring and non-descript Major was as PM.

Whatever began my negative relationship with grey, it has been an enduringly negative one. So, I as you might imagine I was rather surprised to find myself beading more parabola curves with shades of grey yesterday and positively enjoying it. Admittedly, the top layer of the parabola is a very sparkly grey and the faceted glass beads are a shimmering greeny-grey auroa borealis. I choose these shades of grey in an effort to capture the very subtle and beautiful colours of gossamer webs glinting in the sunlight as they gently move in an early spring breeze (see photo). I know it’s autumn in Australia but given the current Etsy Beadweaver’s monthly beading challenge is all about spring and a light spring breeze I am thinking spring.

So, it seems shades of grey that sparkle and shimmer could be a turning point in my relationship with grey. In honor of this moment I have been searching for some positive words that might help me rethink grey in my life – it’s been a struggle but see what you think. The first group are fairly common:

  • Charcoal
  • Slate
  • Dove gray
  • Powder grey
  • Oyster
  • Pearl
  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Silvern

This next group of names for grey are new to me and hold possibilities for being positive towards grey and naming the colour dew sparkling on a gossamer web.

  • Taupe - dark grayish-brown (derived from the Latin name for the European Mole, Talpa europaea).
  • Xanadu - greenish-grey (derived from the colour of the leaves of the Australian Xanadu cultivar of Philodendron which was named after the ancient city of Xanadu, IMongolia, China). First recorded use in 2001 by an Australian paint company).
  • Isabelline - pale grey-yellow, pale fawn, pale cream-brown or parchment. First recorded use in English was in 1601 according to A Dictionary of Color (1930).
  • Griege –crystal grey and beige color slightly darker than the popular crystal silver shade, yet lighter than the black diamond crystal bead in the Swarovski range.

Love to hear what grey means in your life.

Now, to some final bits of trivia on the colour Grey which caught my attention. Apparently, the first recorded use of grey as a colour name in the English language was in AD 700, The Gray Lady is the nickname for The New York Times, in gay slang, a grey queen is a gay person who works for the financial services and ‘Greys’ is a term used by environmentalists (the greens) to describe people who use environmentally destructive technologies and use materials such as granite and concrete in city landscapes.



Ruthie said...

I love all the different grey references you had in here - especially the Star Trek one! Your piece is looking beautiful :)

Angelque Creations said...

Glenda, another great informative article, keep up the good work

Mary T Designs said...

Great information. I love the spider web picture. What a great depiction of the beauty of gray. I also love your challenge piece. I can't wait to see the finished product.

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