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In just a few days, I will be cruising to the Western Caribbean with Quilt Seminars at Sea and 125+ excited quilters!

Most of today, I worked on final details and packing all the class supplies for the trip.  I’m looking forward to this cruise so much!!

I love the ocean and I love the Caribbean. The colors of the water are like none I’ve seen.

2012 pantone color of the year

I’ve always wondered why the colors are such a beautiful blue/green. From the research I’ve done, I’ve discovered several reasons.

#1: The color and depth of the sea floor. The Caribbean is very shallow compared to the Atlantic ocean, and it has very white or light-colored sand, which reflects the sunlight back up better. The combination makes the water a distinct blue color.

#2: There is less iron in the Caribbean waters. Algae grows with iron in the water. Also, the colder water creates more iron to release into the ocean.

#3: The answer is scientific: Light absorption colors the water. Sunlight, composed of electro-magnetic radiation ranging in color from red to blue, is scattered by particles suspended in the water. The shorter blue wavelengths scatter more effectively and are absorbed less rapidly than the longer red and orange wavelengths. Seawater appears blue for about 100 feet under the surface, then becomes black with the absence of light. In essence, sunlight performs a tango on the water to account for the brightly colored Caribbean Sea.

By contrast, the Red Sea is red because it contains algae that release reddish-brown pigments; the Yellow Sea is yellow because rivers fill it with mud; and the Black Sea is black because it is essentially landlocked, resulting in little oxygen except near the surface and a bottom filled with hydrogen sulfide.

Whatever the reason, the blue of the Caribbean is hard to describe. The blue is an almost mystically lucid blue, the blue of watercolors.


(Yup, my foot, set against the Caribbean, from a past cruise)

I’m often asked, where do I get my inspiration? It is all around me! The color of the Caribbean has inspired several of my fabric collections, as you can see in the Caribbean colors in my Serendipity collection.


It has even influenced some of my quilts!


Batik Cascade Ribbons (using the Serendipity fabric line)

Karen Combs is a internationally known quilt teacher, author and fabric designer. Visit her web site at

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