Reported by Heather Strenzwilk
The 3-in-1 Color Tool by Joen Wolfrom is a system designed to help quilters, fabric artists, scrapbookers, and paper artists in their color selection. The tool is a vinyl pouch containing a bound deck of 24 color-coded cards (similar to paint chips), value finders, fabric preview windows and a ruler. The lightweight tool will fit into a pocket or purse and can be used easily at a store or at home.
The system is based on the Ives color wheel (cyan, magenta and yellow), which actually has 48 steps but for simplicity’s sake the 3-in-1 Color Tool uses 24 steps. Each double sided color card contains printed color swatches on the front. The card is divided into 4 categories: pure color, tints (pure color + white), shades (pure color + black) and tones (pure color plus gray). Most cards contain 32 color “options”: lighter colors (like yellow) show more shades and tones while darker colors (like purple) show more tints.
The back of the card suggests color combinations for that color. The card displays traditional monochromatic (single color), complementary (two colors opposite on the wheel) and triadic (three colors equidistant on the wheel). The card also offers an analogous color scheme which uses the the selected color and its adjacent colors for a total of 3, 5, or 7 colors. The most complex combination is split complementary which utilizes an analgous color scheme and the complementary color of its center. The cards use pictures and color names which is helpful (but some of the color names do not match my Crayola Crayons.)
Since I have lots of paper and card stock, I thought it would be a cinch to coordinate a color scheme using the cards. With over 792 possible combinations, I thought I was all set (way overconfident). I decided to start with green’s and create an analgous color scheme which included fuchsia. Starting with a large stack of Bazzill card stock, I soon realized that my card stock consisted of 2 colors of green with several shades and tints of each. What I needed for my color scheme were several other colors of green: yellow-green, spring green and chartreuse. After scrounging through my other cardstock, I found something for each color.
But as you can see from my results, my colors look “off”. After researching color theory some more, I realized that I needed to keep my intensity a bit more consistent between color families. Consider Christmas colors- bright red and bright green. Wouldn’t it be a bit unbalanced to use a pale green with a deep red? Of course someone reading this probably has created a color coordinated piece using just those colors.
the designer paper(Miss Moxie) by The Angel Company.
blue and yellow-orange. Stamp image from Unity Stamp Company.
Finally, I decided to attempt a simple complementary color scheme because it would be easier and I could finish coordinating colors and write this article. After careful study (and lack of other coordinating colors), I chose cerulean blue and yellow-orange. I opted for a darker tints of the blue and yellow-orange with a lighter tint of the yellow-orange as an accent (it looks peach in the photo so just trust me). Never in my wildest dreams would I have used these colors together before using the tool. It has definitely helped me try new color combinations. Since the cards are numbered and coordinated, I won’t have to worry about “losing” a scheme that I like… unless I lose that sheet of cardstock!
The 3-in-1 Color Tool also contains additional cards providing some basic color theory and tips for coordination of patterned fabrics. Every color scheme needs a dominant color family and the additional color family should act as an accent color. The value finders are red and green transparent filters which which block the distraction of color to determine if a pattern has enough contrast. The fabric preview windows are square, round and triangular and show how a print will appear in a quilt. The handy ruler can be used to measure a pattern or print element.
- The tool comes in a vinyl storage pouch and is small enough to carry to the store.
- The color cards are numbered for ease of use (and if you drop them on the floor you can quickly re-order them).
- The value finder and preview windows are helpful for quilters.
- More covenient than a color wheel because the color cards can be compared side by side.
- The color samples are small.
- A basic understanding of color theory is helpful to use this tool.
- The binding fastener is tight so it can fit in the storage pouch. I prefer a larger metal ring so the cards can be removed for color comparison. Since mine arrived without a fastener, I was able to change the binding easily.
The 3-in-1 Color Tool by Joen Wolfron is $16.95 and is available through its publisher C & T Publishing, and through Jo-Ann.com and Amazon.com It is also available through independent fabric or quilting shops.
For years I have struggled to use a traditional color wheel effectively. The 3-in-1 Color Tool takes the place of a color wheel with its set of 24 color coded cards and color schemes. The tool is lightweight and portable and designed to be used at a store or at home. This version of the tool was designed for quilters but it is helpful for paper crafters, scrapbookers, rubber stampers and interior designers. Since color is an important part of my projects, I will reach for this tool again and again. Crafters without a background in color theory might have a bit more of a learning curve with this product. I give the 3-in-1 Color Tool 9/10.
Do you use the 3-in-1 Color Tool, color wheel or another color selection tool to create your artwork? Please share your thoughts with our readers.