Friday, August 13, 2010

Gold Leaf or Rhododendron?

If you have had the opportunity to visit Fallingwater, you might recognize the image from my sketchbook as Rhododendron leaves. Did you know that FLW originally proposed to surface the concrete walls and cantilevers in gold leaf? Well, the Kaufmann family didn't entertain that idea for long. The color of the paint coating the concrete was chosen using the underside of a fallen, dying Rhododendron leaf for inspiration. The hue is a slightly orange light tan. If you want a close match, use Pitsburgh Paints Covered Wagon #319- 5.
Cherokee Red is considered FLW's personal favorite. It is perhaps the most famous color used at Fallingwater, and Pittsburgh has issued a match with Cherokee Red #6432-7. Wright applied this red to the steel mullions and window frames it is said because it recalls the forging process. It is my understanding, from my research and time listening to others at Fallingwater, that Cherokee Red actually varied from project to project. Pittsburgh's version is accurate for the red used at Fallingwater. But, all of Wright's reds were deep, and rich hues mixed with sienna hues. You wouldn't have seen Frank use a "happy" cherry or raspberry red - it just wouldn't seem "Wright" now would it?

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