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Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Design, Featured, Palettes | 19 comments

For the Love of Color: Ochre

For the Love of Color: Ochre

My local quilt shop was having a big sale on fabric this last week, so I ended up buying a bunch of solids, including one I wasn’t expecting: Kona Ochre.


Ochre is such an unfortunate name (maybe because it kind of sounds like okra, which also has an unfortunate name?) but it’s a gorgeous range of colors (albeit including a few difficult colors). This particular solid is the color of caramel cream, and I am a new found fan. It’s lacking the slightly green undertone that makes it go into baby poo brown territory (see aforementioned difficult colors.)


I picked it up to go with some forest greens, but ochre is a really versatile color. Ochre refers to a range of yellow-brown to orange-browns, but this particular Kona is a orange hue, with medium saturation and high brightness.


I don’t have a lot in my stash that matches this, but ochre is used a lot as a supporting color. Because of it’s lower saturation, it can be used as a neutral and therefore plays the support role quite well. For instance, ochre shows up quite often in Kaffe Fasset prints to help bridge the gap between his super saturated main players.


One of my favorite uses for ochre is in this analogous color scheme. These warm fire-y tones have been pretty popular recently, and I love this slightly less saturated version of it.


This range goes from ochre to raspberry, which covers many of the warm tones on the color wheel. It starts at the light orange of ochre and moves through red-orange, red, and ends in red-violet which gives a little coolness to add a lot of depth to the color scheme.


Ochre is also beautiful with purples, violets and blues, as they are complementary colors. The more yellow the ochre, the more purple it’s complement, while the more orange ochres have blue as their complement.


Again, I paired it with slightly less saturated purples, to keep in line with the less saturated tone of the ochre. That’s not strictly necessary, but when I paired it with the more saturated purples I had in my stash, I found it made their colors almost look garish. I do however, love it with the different violets in this Collage print. (I bet it’d look great with radiant orchid, too!)


Since Kona Ochre is more orange, I found a couple desaturated blue-violets to pair it with. In retrospect, I should have just hit my navy stash but those are at the other end of my storage cabinet. Out of sight, out of mind!


And just because ochre is bordering on a neutral doesn’t mean you can’t pair it with other neutrals! For instance, ochre and grey are a gorgeous pairing. They almost look opulent together.


So there you have it, a little ochre love. Would you consider using ochre in any of your projects?


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  1. ochre AND baby poo yellow/brown Rock, AND they go with almost everything!! the name reminds me of OGRE. Shrek should be ochre! only recently have i even been hearing it called ochre more – i usually hear it called mustard, or bronze. and… that awesome baby poo yellow/brown is called mustish, remember? mustard plus relish? (; i am about to do an entire Mustish quilt for the Umbrella prints challenge now that Pantone is done. same quilt, too, a zillion ochre/ogre/okra bronze baby-poo yellow/brown Mustish scraps!

    • oh and when i am talking about the very nice mellow light shade that you are using in your example above (with feathers), the Nice name i use for it is Palomino. (:

      • Ohhh, that’s a beautiful name. I like that. :)
        I’m a bit biased as I’m rather partial to Palominos!

    • Kona has a mustard that is quite a bit different from their ochre, but I’ve heard it called that, too. :) I forgot about mustish, LOL. How’d I forget about that?! I can’t wait to see your mustish quilt, I’m sure it will be gorgeous. :)

  2. I probably wouldn’t pick it, but seeing it paired with the others brings it to life! Loved all of them actually.

    • I sort of feel the need to make ALL the things with that raspberry/red/orange/ochre bundle. Except that I just used my ochre up in another project. Time for more? :)

  3. Lovely combinations. A string of peach colored pearls against a dark charcoal gray dress? Although, I wouldn’t call that color “ochre”, or at least it isn’t the color we called ochre in my painting class. That was more of what I call “old gold”, although mustard is a good name too.

    Hmmm, just checked the dictionary for a definition and it is listed as orange yellow, originating from yellow, brown or red earthy iron oxides. So, that color would be rust combined with white.

    Ochre was never one of my favorite paint colors but it always seemed to get mixed in there somewhere.

    @Jody: will there be any mustaches on your “mustish” quilt? (the devil made me do it)

    • Ochre ends up being a bit of a catch all for a whole range of colors, mostly browns that are at the yellow-orange end of the spectrum. I’d always thought it was a slightly different tone, but when I started doing research it brought up the whole range, so I figured I’d trust Kona’s naming scheme. :) Regardless of what its name is, it’s a really beautiful color in person.

      Jody should TOTALLY include mustaches in her mustish quilt. Good call!

  4. What a great job you’ve done of showing us this color, and how it plays with other colors. I’d never be drawn to ochre, but I love what you’ve done with it. Yes! I’d sew with it! Thanks very much for sharing!

    • Thanks Linda! I’ve never really considered it much, but it does seem to play nicely with others. It’s like the quiet kid that gets along with everyone but no one notices when they’re on their own. :)

  5. all your examples looks yummy. maybe it is because I like caramel? :-)

    • I also like caramel! :) Also I’ve decided this color is somewhat of a chameleon. It looks more yellow here, but when I put it with my quilt, it took on more rosey tones. I guess I’m still learning about color context, too. :)

  6. Timely post for me. I just received the color wheel bundle from Marmalade Fabrics and it contains ochre and plenty of its friends. Love the combinations you showed – I could live with any/all of them.

    • Oooh a color wheel bundle sounds lovely! I really need to make myself a color wheel quilt for my craft room! Sorry, that got off topic quickly. :)

  7. I’d use it. I’ve been wanting to make a super nerdy quilt that is made using amber, opal and ochre colors because those are the names of the three protein synthesis stop codons. I know, I know, I’m nuts.

    • You’re not nuts, you’re AWESOME. Please make this quilt. :D Also, I totally should have gotten your opinion on a science quilt project my friend was working on. I think she finally committed to the colors, but if she hasn’t, I might send you an email later. :)

  8. i don’t have any ochre, but I am loving that feathers print!

    • I got that print for a project for someone else, but I keep sneaking it into other things because I love it so much. I never would have gotten it originally, but now I’m scared I’m going to run out. Hahaha!

    • Oh! The print is called Farmington Feathers by Martha Negley.

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