Iridescent Colors…

I came across an interesting post on iridescent colors (as seen in butterfly wings, peacock feathers and soap bubbles) at Science News. Which in many ways reminds me of just how little we currently know about the colors exhibited in nature beyond our “colored” perceptions. I speculate that another butterfly may “see” and be attracted to the iridescence that I see displayed by one of their potential mates…but just what colors, refractions and reflections do they respond to?

“The trick for conjuring colors out of nothing depends on structure at the scale of hundreds of nanometers. At this scale, the smallest branchings within peacock feathers reveal themselves coated with arrays of rods. When light bounces off, certain wavelengths combine to intensify a color as other wavelengths interfere with, and cancel out, each other. The effect of this symphony of light shifts with the angle of view, the definition of iridescence.”

Polymer clay artists have been using iridescent colors in their work for some time now- as a surface treatment via interference powders or Golden acrylic paints* and as part of the clay body itself- pearlized polymer clays that incorporate mica into the clay body.

“The GOLDEN Iridescent colors achieve their reflective properties by synthetically reproducing several natural phenomena – the nacreous, or pearlescent, qualities found in fish scales or the dust of a butterfly’s wing, and the shiny and reflective qualities found in certain metals and minerals.”

Anyway… have a creative “Butterfly Wing” iridescent creative day in YOUR studio today.

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1 Response to “Iridescent Colors…”


  1. 1 Lenora Kandiner May 29, 2008 at 3:44 pm

    Several years ago there was an exhibit of iridescence in nature at the New Jersey State Museum. There were pictures of rocks and peacock feathers and I don’t remember what else. I walked through it thinking that I could do all of it it polymer clay.

    Then two weeks ago, I was at the opening of an exhibit of ceramics by Peter Voulkos and others who changed the world of ceramics, at Grounds for Sculpure (www.groundsforsculpture.org) near Princeton. The exhibit was wonderful, and the other serendipity was that there are a whole bunch of domesticated peacocks there, and it was their mating season, so the guests were treated to continuous displays.


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