I remember one day a few months ago, I came into Textile Therapy (so appropriately named) feeling a bit down and couldn’t even think of anything but black and white. Well, the fabulous and ever effervescent Annette took me into the shop with Karen by her side and we picked colours and more colours and more colours. By the end of the day, I was smiling and feeling part of a supportive and fun community.
It turns out that I am not alone. There are so many articles and reports about the mental health benefits of sewing, and they are spot on. Even esteemed scholarly journals like the Journal of Public Health have published articles that link quilting and wellbeing. When quilting, we exercise our minds, problem solve, develop new skills, and have opportunities to develop and deepen friendships.
And it is not just the quilting. You know how Annette is always going on about colour and how beneficial it is? I certainly know from experience that the combination of colour and community seem to pick me right up. But, I decided to learn more about the psychology of colour…. And there is soooo much to learn.
For instance, did you know that most fast food restaurants use bright red and yellow in their logos? Studies show that red is exciting, stimulating, and can also stimulate our heart rates. Fast food restaurants want customers to eat and clear out, the bright colours keep us motivated to keep moving!
But it doesn’t stop there. A quick google search for “colour therapy” results in a host of graphics and websites devoted to a range of effects of colour on everything from mood to actually healing medicinal ailments. I am going to refrain from giving medical advice here, so I’ll just focus on the information I gleaned about moods.
I like these colours wheel as they are simple and focus on the positive effects of colours. When I first saw them, I thought, “yeah.. that’s it… those colours really do have those effects, don’t they?”
The colour of the sky and sea—the most pervasive colour on earth—blue is calm and tranquil. It is the colour of trust and peace. The United Nations flag is blue, highlighting cooperation.
Green is the second most prominent colour on earth. It signifies balance and harmony. It also encapsulates health and growth. A brighter green, like new shoots in spring, can signify awakening or exuberance!.
Sunshine. Fun. Yellow. Like a new day, yellow is optimistic.
Like a flamenco dancer’s dress, red is passion and spontaneity. It is courage. It is remembrance of our fallen soldiers.
As I went deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole of colour psychology, I found that there is a whole wealth of information for colour in marketing. A really comprehensive chart can be found here. This is really interesting because it highlights both the positive and negative impacts of colour.
If you don’t feel like following the link, an example is the colour orange. In the positive side, orange evokes courage, confidence, warmth, innovation, friendliness, and energy. On the negative, it can evoke deprivation, frustration, frivolity, immaturity, ignorance, and sluggishness. Blue moves from the positive attributes of trust, loyalty, dependability, logic, serenity and security to the negative aspects of coldness, aloofness, emotionless, unfriendliness, uncaring and unappetizing.
According to the marketers, colour itself doesn’t stand alone, but context and culture matter. This makes a lot of sense when you think about wedding dresses. In the west, we wear white (or cream) for purity, but in the China, India, Pakistan and Vietnam, brides traditionally wear red for good luck and auspiciousness.
From my experience, in the context of sewing and community, the positive impacts of colours prevail. So, Textile Therapy really is therapeutic! Give me the hope, growth and prosperity of green, the wisdom and imagination of purple, the optimism of yellow, and the excitement of red!! Annette was right again!