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Old 01-08-2019, 06:28 AM   #1
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Default why some colors are named...

Sometimes when I am using my colored pencils or paints I wondered why in the world it is named what it is. I'll give you an example; the color peach is not a color I would use to color a peach, it isn't even close to any of the colors I would need.


So how about y'all, what color do you think is a crazy mismatch.
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:32 AM   #2
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When I was in fine art supplies, we stocked a Canson paper which was listed as Jennet yellow. I'd always known a jennet as a type of horse and occasionally used for a mule too, which made no sense at all (even if white horses are grey). But in fact, it was simply that somewhere along the line, instead of translating "Genet", which is the French for the plant broom, which is indeed yellow, it had just been transliterated as Jennet. I notice a huge mismatch between some of the pinks and purple names in my Intense pencil colours and what I associate in my head with the same name. More recently (twenty, thirty years) there's been more of a trend to use the name of some of the components, hence phthalocyanine blue, quinacridone gold etc.
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Old 01-08-2019, 08:40 AM   #3
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Do you think there could be a tendency to follow along with what had always been done in the past? For example, peach was peach in crayons for as long as I can remember having crayons. And who knows what made them call that color peach before that! It surely isn't the color of a peach...unless you are coloring a white peach, which is really a pinkish orange, like the color of the pencil. Maybe peaches USED to be that color, way back when.

Who knows!? I just shake my head at color names sometimes.
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:46 AM   #4
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I just learned that Caput Mortuum (one of the colors in the Polychromos line) literally means "dead head".
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Old 01-08-2019, 10:36 AM   #5
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Having recently discovered- and discovered I like- Prismacolor pencils, I have to agree with this. I mean, just what is 'Non Photo Blue'? Is there a Photo Blue? Scarlet Lake? Bit of an environmental concern there, methinks. Process Red? What sort of Process is it? lol. Tuscan Red, which is actually Brown. But totally agree about the whole Peach thing.
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Old 01-08-2019, 12:44 PM   #6
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I just learned that Caput Mortuum (one of the colors in the Polychromos line) literally means "dead head".

That I did know - it's either in some Winsor & Newton or some Conte a Paris ranges too. W&N I think, because my memory says it was a watercolour.

The "process" colours originally referred to the primary colours used in CMYK printing. And, because it was very much graphics-oriented (at the time I was in the business, animation studios still used it for a lot of their cels) some of the Designer's Gouache range had very technically specific names.
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Old 01-08-2019, 01:18 PM   #7
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At the other end of the spectrum, there are colours that are perfectly named but you’d maybe rather they weren’t - “mummy brown” springs to mind. I guess we can take comfort from the fact it’s no longer made of ground up mummies but apparently that was the original source of the pigment
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:37 PM   #8
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Another reason for weird names:
Non-photo blue is named that way because it is a color of blue that could be used for marking up originals, and when copies were made, it didn't copy. But I can't remember what type of copies. Copy machine I think. And graphic arts cameras. (I just looked it up!)
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Old 01-08-2019, 05:16 PM   #9
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In a similar vein, I have occasionally been struck by how the paint companies have to name hundreds and hundreds of shades! I mean, how do you name 20 different whites?! White is white! Or not, as is apparently the case. Makes me shake my head.
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:12 PM   #10
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In a similar vein, I have occasionally been struck by how the paint companies have to name hundreds and hundreds of shades! I mean, how do you name 20 different whites?! White is white! Or not, as is apparently the case. Makes me shake my head.
This made me laugh, because we recently painted some rooms in our house "Swiss Coffee".

They're white.
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Old 01-08-2019, 09:50 PM   #11
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In a similar vein, I have occasionally been struck by how the paint companies have to name hundreds and hundreds of shades! I mean, how do you name 20 different whites?! White is white! Or not, as is apparently the case. Makes me shake my head.

Personal experience with this: I did a lot of home dec work for a lady who was deathly afraid of color. She wanted to paint her entry white, so I brought her probably about twenty paint chips - all white - to choose from. Her repeated question was, "Will this be too dark?" Um, no...it's white...
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:13 AM   #12
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Thanks for the giggles this morning everyone, keep em coming.

Mint is a pale green color? A mint plant is usually a nice medium green color.
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:36 AM   #13
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Having recently discovered- and discovered I like- Prismacolor pencils, I have to agree with this. I mean, just what is 'Non Photo Blue'? Is there a Photo Blue? Scarlet Lake? Bit of an environmental concern there, methinks. Process Red? What sort of Process is it? lol. Tuscan Red, which is actually Brown. But totally agree about the whole Peach thing.
Non photo blue will not show up on a photocopy, so you can mark up the original
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:11 AM   #14
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Thanks for all the reasons behind the names ladies. I'd almost got to thinking maybe somewhere there was someone employed to come up with the most outlandish names possible.
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Old 01-09-2019, 09:51 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the reasons behind the names ladies. I'd almost got to thinking maybe somewhere there was someone employed to come up with the most outlandish names possible.

I think there's some of that too!!
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Old 01-09-2019, 10:25 AM   #16
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You know SU is notoriously famous for their color names. Last September at ladies retreat, we had our monthly card class for those of us who normally attend. The other ladies present would laugh as we were talking and using color names.....merry Merlot, shaded spruce, etc. I know this thread is about shade colors but I just had to mention these. Still, is blue really balmy? Mostly, the color name (like blue in this case) usually does reflect the actual color in most cases.
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:47 PM   #17
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i am in awe of the names of the distress inks. someone really creative put a lot of thought into them!
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Old 01-09-2019, 05:52 PM   #18
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In a similar vein, I have occasionally been struck by how the paint companies have to name hundreds and hundreds of shades! I mean, how do you name 20 different whites?! White is white! Or not, as is apparently the case. Makes me shake my head.

I had to laugh, we recently painted several rooms and I had this conversation with my husband. My favorite name was "grayish." What does that mean, and how does it differ from many of the other light grays I was looking at?
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Old 01-09-2019, 07:56 PM   #19
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i am in awe of the names of the distress inks. someone really creative put a lot of thought into them!

I agree. The names totally make you want to buy them.
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Old 01-10-2019, 12:13 AM   #20
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You know SU is notoriously famous for their color names.
This is a bit of a running joke between DH and me; I sometimes describe colours in terms of their nearest SU equivalent, and he makes up spoof names ("Stinky Sable" comes to mind, he has coined many others).

A few years ago one of the in-colours was called Summer Starfruit and was a dark shade of greenish-yellow. Here in New Zealand: the colour was promptly given a local name by some of the less reverent crafters I know. A local word "Karitane" has to do with newborn babies and Kōwhai (pronounced "Cor-Fie") is the Maori word for "yellow". If you check this link you'll understand why Summer Starfruit became informally known here to some as "Karitane Kōwhai".
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:06 AM   #21
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Different path, but who names shoes? Cannot believe they can come up with so many different names - each style has its own. Just contemplating!
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:10 AM   #22
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This is a bit of a running joke between DH and me; I sometimes describe colours in terms of their nearest SU equivalent, and he makes up spoof names ("Stinky Sable" comes to mind, he has coined many others).

A few years ago one of the in-colours was called Summer Starfruit and was a dark shade of greenish-yellow. Here in New Zealand: the colour was promptly given a local name by some of the less reverent crafters I know. A local word "Karitane" has to do with newborn babies and Kōwhai (pronounced "Cor-Fie") is the Maori word for "yellow". If you check this link you'll understand why Summer Starfruit became informally known here to some as "Karitane Kōwhai".

Sounds like what some here have compared soft suede to! LOL
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:10 AM   #23
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Different path, but who names shoes? Cannot believe they can come up with so many different names - each style has its own. Just contemplating!

I would love a job naming things! LOL
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:17 AM   #24
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This is a bit of a running joke between DH and me; I sometimes describe colours in terms of their nearest SU equivalent, and he makes up spoof names ("Stinky Sable" comes to mind, he has coined many others).

A few years ago one of the in-colours was called Summer Starfruit and was a dark shade of greenish-yellow. Here in New Zealand: the colour was promptly given a local name by some of the less reverent crafters I know. A local word "Karitane" has to do with newborn babies and Kōwhai (pronounced "Cor-Fie") is the Maori word for "yellow". If you check this link you'll understand why Summer Starfruit became informally known here to some as "Karitane Kōwhai".
HA! I didn't even have to look at the link to know EXACTLY what you were referring to, as I have LOTS of experience in this particular department...
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Old 01-10-2019, 01:45 PM   #25
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Summer Starfruit was referred to here in much the same fashion... different words, same thing... I ‘wonder’ why that particular colour of SU’s didn’t catch on!
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Old 01-10-2019, 04:28 PM   #26
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I just learned that Caput Mortuum (one of the colors in the Polychromos line) literally means "dead head".

And what color is it? Gray? Grey? Puce Green? Funky Off-White? C'mon, inquiring minds wanna know!
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Old 01-10-2019, 04:42 PM   #27
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Along the lines of white is white...when we were getting married, my husband said he didn't want to know about the invitations - as in, is this vanilla, or beige, or off white, or taupe..."You just pick, dear..." Same conversation when it came to painting the inside of the house. He didn't want to be bothered, other than suggesting to our daughter that her carpet ought to be bright orange and her walls lime green. She politely declined. Even at 4, she was smart enough to know when Dad was kidding. It's been a long standing joke between them ever since...
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Old 01-10-2019, 04:46 PM   #28
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And what color is it? Gray? Grey? Puce Green? Funky Off-White? C'mon, inquiring minds wanna know!
Google says an earthy brown. I thought it had reddish tints.
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:46 PM   #29
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And what color is it? Gray? Grey? Puce Green? Funky Off-White? C'mon, inquiring minds wanna know!

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Old 01-10-2019, 08:27 PM   #30
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That's really pretty! For such a morbid name! Thanks, Dina!
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Old 01-10-2019, 11:43 PM   #31
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Reminds me of a favorite line from Robin Williams. Upon changing his newborn's first diaper, "What do you feed this kid? Algae?"
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Old 01-11-2019, 12:49 PM   #32
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I don't know about your monitors, but this looks like SU chocolate chip to me. Has a little bit of red in it.
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Old 01-11-2019, 01:46 PM   #33
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I thought that as well, Diane.
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Old 01-11-2019, 03:42 PM   #34
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At the other end of the spectrum, there are colours that are perfectly named but you’d maybe rather they weren’t - “mummy brown” springs to mind. I guess we can take comfort from the fact it’s no longer made of ground up mummies but apparently that was the original source of the pigment

Mummy Bauxite is one of my top ten watercolor pigments. I was pretty shocked to learn that it used to be made out of mummies. Like the first person to eat oysters - WHAT THE HECK WERE THEY THINKING?
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:27 PM   #35
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Mummy Bauxite is one of my top ten watercolor pigments. I was pretty shocked to learn that it used to be made out of mummies. Like the first person to eat oysters - WHAT THE HECK WERE THEY THINKING?

Laughing out loud...ya'd hafta be pretty hungry to slap down an oyster raw...and pretty hard up to go hunt down a mummy to see what color grinding it up and adding some binder and oil to it, for paint...
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Old 01-11-2019, 07:26 PM   #36
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Mummy Bauxite is one of my top ten watercolor pigments. I was pretty shocked to learn that it used to be made out of mummies. Like the first person to eat oysters - WHAT THE HECK WERE THEY THINKING?

Oddly, DH made that oyster comment just the other day. Neither one of us cares to eat them.
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:01 AM   #37
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Mummy Bauxite is one of my top ten watercolor pigments. I was pretty shocked to learn that it used to be made out of mummies. Like the first person to eat oysters - WHAT THE HECK WERE THEY THINKING?

I believe it was mostly cats (sorry cat lovers!) which were mummified and buried in pretty huge numbers!

It’s weird how perceptions of oysters have changed. They’re usually viewed as something of a luxury now so “steak and oyster pie” sounds like the oyster is lending glamour to the steak. Back in the day though, they were cheap and plentiful and were used to bulk out the expensive meat!

I reckon our ancestors must have tried pretty much anything they encountered to see whether it was edible - loads of sea creatures are totally non-obvious (sea urchin, anyone?) and even stuff like nuts (does a pecan in its shell look like obvious nourishment to you?). There must have been significant casualties along the way and communal knowledge that got passed down (“Don’t eat the white berries”) must have had extraordinary value.
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Old 01-13-2019, 08:25 AM   #38
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Different path, but who names shoes? Cannot believe they can come up with so many different names - each style has its own. Just contemplating!
Or purses? Dooney and Bourke alone, have so many different names for their purses, satchels, backpacks...its mind boggling!

Ok, so off subject!
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Old 01-15-2019, 12:52 AM   #39
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This is a bit of a running joke between DH and me; I sometimes describe colours in terms of their nearest SU equivalent, and he makes up spoof names ("Stinky Sable" comes to mind, he has coined many others).

A few years ago one of the in-colours was called Summer Starfruit and was a dark shade of greenish-yellow. Here in New Zealand: the colour was promptly given a local name by some of the less reverent crafters I know. A local word "Karitane" has to do with newborn babies and Kōwhai (pronounced "Cor-Fie") is the Maori word for "yellow". If you check this link you'll understand why Summer Starfruit became informally known here to some as "Karitane Kōwhai".
Along these lines, my stamping friends refer to Stampin’ Up Soft Suede as “baby poop brown.”
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