Saturday, April 29, 2017

Aboriginal Bark Paintings
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction [1]
Aboriginal bark painting is a practice that goes back thousands of years. They were originally practiced by Australian aboriginals on the interior part of a tree, just below a stripped bark. Bark paintings were typically used for ceremonial purposes and are still being used today in some areas such as Arnhem Land. The earliest record of bark painting was during 1800 to 1804 where a French artist saw and recorded the craft etched on a bark standing over a grave.

Purpose and Creation
Aboriginal bark painting is used for instructional and storytelling goals. The paintings which can be drawn using different mediums show aspects of aboriginal life. They tell stories typically told to children during the wet season. Most paintings carry the sign of the clan, essentially naming the people responsible for the art.

Creating these artworks not only takes patience but precision. Typically, the bark is taken from a eucalyptus tree. Once removed, Australian aboriginals would choose the best section of the bark before preparing it as a canvas. This was usually done by trimming and putting the bark against the fire to dry it out. Painters typically used basic colors — red, white, black and yellow — usually taken from the local environment.

Design
Traditional aboriginal art almost always contains a story. This is, in fact, part of its charm among enthusiasts. The paintings are composed of several elements, each with a corresponding meaning. Some of the most commonly used include:
• Dividing lines
• Border
• Figurative designs
• Featured blocks
• Ground
• Cross hatching
• Clan designs
• Geometric designs

Each of these elements may represent a specific aspect of the total design. Some of them might be easy enough to decipher, but others are well hidden and may not be obvious at first glance. For example, some people might simply see a series of lines and curves but for those who know the symbols, a story is already told through the lines.

Stories
There is a strict code of conduct when it comes to aboriginal art pictures. An uninitiated man or female can only tell stories that are told to children. These stories may be ‘light’, and therefore, are allowed to be told to the public. However, the more interesting stories are the ones that only an initiated man is allowed to paint. The catch here is that they can only paint the story but not orally tell it to anyone who is not initiated.

Purchase
There are a number of outlets that will sell Aboriginal bark paintings. One of these outlets is Indigenous Instyle. This site also contains lots of information about Aboriginal Art and Culture.


Aboriginal Bark Paintings
The National Aboriginal & Torres Islander Art Award celebrates the talents and diverse artistic interest of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders. Since its inception in 1984 it has undergone a radical transformation from being a local and territorial event to gaining national and international recognition as showcasing the Australian indigenous artistry to the world at large.

Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Australia now encompasses a variety of cultural and physical settings from urban wastelands to sparse populated environs to indigenous practiced lifestyles to sophisticated international influences. There is not a single straight jacket that reflects the current mob.

The art of bark paintings reflects a traditional indigenous sliver from a myriad of Aboriginal and Torres Islander artistic endeavors, with the subject matter being traditional (see introduction) rather than contemporary-urban.

Artist: Djawida Nadjongorle Nawura; Title: Dreamtime Ancestor (1985)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 180 cm x 56 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1985.
Awards: Joint winner First Prize - Peter Stuyvesant Cultural Foundation Award; 2nd National Aboriginal Art Award.

Artist: Djardi Ashley Wodalpa; Title: Blue Tongue Lizard (1987)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 152 cm x 82 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1987.
Awards: Winner of First Prize - 4th National Aboriginal Art Award.

Artist: Mutitjpuy Mununggurr; Title: The Djang'kawu at Balana (1990)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 160 cm x 85 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1990.
Awards: Winner of First Prize (supported by The Robert Holmes a Court Foundation - 7th National Aboriginal Art Award.

Artist: Les Midikuria; Title: Borlong the Rainbow Serpent (1992)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 185 cm x 96 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1992.
Awards: Winner of the Telecom Australia First Prize, 9th National Aboriginal Art Award.

Artist: Yanggarriny Wunungmurra; Title: Gangan (1997)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 306 cm x 108 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, Telstra Collection, purchased 1997.
Awards: Winner of the Telstra First Prize - 14th National Telstra Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

Artist: Bardayal Lofty Nadjamerrek; Title: Crocodile and Fish (1973 - 1974)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 52 cm x 43 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, gift of Dr Graham Webb 1987.

Artist: David Malangi Daymirringu; Title: Gurmirringu (2008)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 126 cm x 67 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1967.

Gulumbu Yunupingu; Title: Gark - The Universe (2008)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 145 cm x 50 cm.
Collection: Private Collection.
Awards: Exhibited at the 25th Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Straight Islander Art Award.

Artist: John Mawurndjul; Title: Ngalyad - The Rainbow Serpent (1988)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 152 cm x 82 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1988.
Awards: Winner of the Rothmans Foundation Award, 5th National Aboriginal Art Award.

Artist: John Mawurndjul; Title: Mardayin at Mukkamukka (1999)
Medium: Natural pigments on bark.
Size: 168 cm x 95 cm.
Collection: Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory Collection, purchased 1999.
Awards: Winner of the Telstra Bark Painting Award, 16th Telstra Aboriginal & Torres Straight Islander Award.


Reference
[1] http://www.indigenousinstyle.com.au/aboriginal-art-history/aboriginal-bark-painting

[2] Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award 1984 - 2008: Celebrating 25 Years, Charles Darwin University Press, Darwin (2011).

Saturday, April 22, 2017

"Byzantine Glow"
A New Collection of Digitally Designed Fabrics
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
There are a number of posts featuring my fabric designs and collections that have appeared on this blog spot. For your convenience I have listed them below:
My Fabric Collection: Leaves Transformed
Fabric Lengths@QSDS
My Fabric Collection:"Oh, Oh Marilyn and Mona!"@Spoonflower
Hand Dyed and Printed Aiva Design
New Colorways For My 'Cultural Graffiti' Fabrics

If you are interested for pricing and/or any other information about these fabrics email me at Marie-Therese.


Introduction
I have been designing my hand dyed and hand printed fabric lengths using a range of fabrics and multiple surface design techniques. As a professional senior graphic designer/illustrator in a previous career, I have always had an interest in creating imagery, prints, illustrations, posters and publications using digital processes. This interest has led me to some fascinating explorations in the field of digitally created fabrics and textiles. This post focusses on my new digitally designed fabric collection - "Byzantine Glow".

There is no minimum order and the printed fabrics range from a test swatch (8" x 8" or 20 cm x 20 cm) to a fat quarter (21" x 18" or 53 cm x 46 cm) or to whatever your yardage requirements may be.

These fabric designs can be used for wearable art, accessories, furnishing and interior design projects. If you would like to purchase fabric lengths from my "Byzantine Glow" collection please email me for pricing and/or any other information at Marie-Therese.


"Byzantine Glow" - A New Collection of Digitally Designed Fabrics
The "Byzantine Glow" collection of digitally designed fabrics have been based on a series of my personal limited edition prints which employ my signature MultiSperse Dye Sublimation (MSDS) technique. The fabrics have been designed to give the illusion of an aesthetic ‘glow’ and mirror the changing seasons in sumptuous, rich colour ! Additional digital techniques have been employed to create imagery that contains depth and a luminous quality to the textile designs. The design features evoke a rich, decorative and structured Byzantine aesthetic.

The colors have been sensitively and painstakingly manipulated to create a superb complimentary colorways suite. The stunning designs can be used for interior design, clothing items and other decorative purposes. There are four colorways in the "Byzantine Glow" collection that are available for purchase.

The printed designs are available in the following natural fibres from Spoonflower - basic cotton ultra, Kona® cotton ultra, cotton poplin ultra, light weight cotton twill, cotton spandex jersey, linen cotton canvas ultra, organic cotton knit ultra, organic cotton sateen ultra, heavy cotton twill and silky crepe de chine. The printed designs are also available in the following Spoonflower polyester range of fabrics - satin, performance pique, poly crepe de chine, silky faille, performance knit, modern jersey, fleece, minky, sport lycra, eco canvas and faux suede. Fabric widths vary from 40" (102 cm), 42" (107 cm), 54" (137 cm), 56" (142 cm), and 58" (147 cm) depending on the chosen fabric. The designs are also available to use as self-adhesive wallpaper and giftwrap paper. See Spoonflower for more information.

My "Byzantine Glow" collection - for wearable art, accessories, interior and other decorative design projects - is shown below. Each work in the collection below shows a fat quarter (21" x 18" or 53 x 46 cm) view of the printed fabric design and a one yard length (36" or 91.5 cm) view of the printed fabric design. To view more of my "Digital Fabric Collections" at Spoonflower please click the following link - Marie-Therese@Spoonflower.

Byzantine Summer Glow (detail) colorway in vivid reds, grey-blues and dark/light contrast hues (fat quarter).

Byzantine Summer Glow colorway in vivid reds, grey-blues and dark/light contrast hues (one yard).

Byzantine Autumn Glow (detail) colorway in deep red-rust-golds, grey-blues and dark/light contrast hues (fat quarter).

Byzantine Autumn Glow colorway in deep red-rust-golds, grey-blues and dark/light contrast hues (one yard).

Byzantine Winter Glow (detail) colorway in rich blue-purples, light olive greens and dark/light contrast hues (fat quarter).

Byzantine Winter Glow colorway in rich blue-purples, light olive greens and dark/light contrast hues (one yard).

Byzantine Spring Glow (detail) colorway in rich greens, light magenta-purples and dark/light contrast hues (fat quarter).

Byzantine Spring Glowcolorway in rich greens, light magenta-purples and dark/light contrast hues (one yard).

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Needlepoint
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction
Throughout history, elaborately embroidered garments or furnishings have been popular as a reflection of the wearer's or owner's wealth and social status.

Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe inventory of 1600 lists a gown of “black satten, embroidered all over with roses and pauncies and a border of oaken leaves”. Tudor and Elizabethan portraits show magnificent embroidery. Intricate patterns were embroidered on every available space, frequently highlighted with jewels.

From contemporary written accounts historians know that embroidery flourished as an art form in ancient Egypt and other early advanced civilisations.

Needlepoint is certainly a form of embroidery, but in many ways it is a craft in its own right. Today's post centers on the history of needlework.


Needlepoint
Unlike other forms of embroidery, needlepoint is generally done as a design or picture to cover the entire background canvas. On the other hand, embroidery is usually associated with materials like silk and cotton, but from medieval times, wool and other relatively thicker thread have also been used in needlework. True tapestry work is wholly hand-woven, without a background fabric as a basis for the design.

Examples of needlepoint dating from the Middle Ages still exist and the craft thrived throughout this period in most of Western Europe.

The Syon Cope.

Detail of the Syon Cope.

The Syon Cope, from Syon Abbey, Middlesex was made between 1300 and 1320. The 'cope' would have been worn by a high-ranking priest or bishop. The 'cope', a semi-circular cape, is the outer garment worn by priests for special ceremonies and they are still used today, worn, for example, by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Syon Cope was taken out of the country by the Bridgettine nuns of Syon Abbey during the reign of Elizabeth I. The order was re-established in England in about 1810, and the Cope returned to these shores at that time.

In Britain its development continued into the Elizabethan era, and many museums now house magnificent book bindings, purses, cushions, table covers and hangings, all in needlepoint, displaying a variety of fascinating designs.

Late 16th Century English purse and pincushion embroidered with coloured silks and silver threads onto canvas in tent stitch.

Many early needlepoint themes were taken from nature with flowers, trees, animals and birds frequently featured. Bible characters and stories, myths and legends were also adapted into narrative illustration.

English embroidery of the late Tudor period - Garden of Eden.
Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Detail from a late 16th Century Spanish needlepoint wall hanging entitled "Galceran de Pines disembarks at Salona near Tarragona and stops the sending of ransom." The hanging is stitched in silk, wool and metal thread on canvas.

It was during the 16th Century that a particularly fascinating form of needlepoint known as "Turkey work" was first done. It was most commonly used for cushion covers and involved pulling of two strands through the canvas. These were then knotted and cut short, giving a pile-like appearance similar to that of a rug or carpet.

Turkey work or ghiordes knot used in surface hand embroidery.

The oriental influence became widespread as the trade routes to the East opened up in the 17th Century. Oriental designs soon became popular as both floral and pastoral needlepoint themes.

In the course of the 18th Century there was little real development in needlepoint technique, although Bargello or Florentine stitchery (also known as Hungarian Point) continued to flourish.

A spectacular example of Bargello needlepoint is seen in these bed hangings from the Great Chamber of Parham Park in Sussex, one of England's finest country houses. By tradition the bedhead and coverlet were embroidered by Mary Queen of Scots.

The early 19th Century, however, marked a turning point in needlepoint history: in the very first decade a book seller from Berlin first published a needlepoint design marked out on a squared paper. They were printed in black and white on paper and then hand-colored, and published mainly as single sheets to keep them affordable. They were eventually exported to Britain, where 'Berlin work' became a craze.

Museum of New Zealand.
Needlework pattern.
Production: Hertz and Wegener (maker/artist), 1800s, Berlin.
Materials: paper, ink, paint.
Classification: patterns.
Technique: printing, painting.
Dimensions: 289mm (height) x 521mm (width).
Gift of the Estate of June Starke, 2011.

Berlin wool work was a style of needlepoint embroidery, usually worked in single stitches in many colors and hues (which had been made possible by the great progresses made in dyeing from the 1830s). Berlin wool work produced very durable pieces of embroidery that could be used as furniture covers, cushions and bags. European settlers introduced the craft to North America, but the canvases were generally much smaller than those that had been embroidered in medieval times.

Needlepoint remains highly popular as a craft and the possibilities for originality in design, color and texture are never ending. Today, needlepoint designs can be followed on a ready stencilled canvas, by means of a chart or by tracing on the canvas with waterproof ink.

Petit Point are hand-painted needlepoint designs on 14 or 18 mesh Zwiegert mono canvas. 12cm x 12cm standard size.

The effects that can be achieved range from the most delicate pictorial designs to the boldest, brightest geometric designs.

Shields of Life Triumph.

The firm fabric created by needlepoint may be put to many uses, including wall hangings, cushions, bags, chair seats and even clothing.
Needlepoint Garden Dress.


Reference
[1] Creative Crafts Encyclopedia, Octopus Books, London (1977).

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Paisley Patterns - Part I
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction [1]
The origin of the "Paisley Motif" can be found in the ancient civilisation of Babylon under the rule of kings such as Nebuchadnezzar. There, one of the dominant resource plant was the date palm, which not only provided food and building materials such as wood, string and thatch, it also provided a motif that became known as the Paisley motif. The motif follows the tightly curled palm frond just as it begins to grow.

The Date Palm was considered the 'Tree of Life' and the tightly curled palm frond was a symbol of fertility and much prized by the Babylonians. It was thought to have generated the Paisley pattern.

The above is a printed shawl design with unusual 'toothy' edged Paisley motif, which comes from a volume of "Sketches for Print Shawls", English and French, ca. 1850 [1].

From Babylon this motif was to spread all over the world. In India, particularly Kashmir, an early example of a shawl with this pattern dates back to the 1600s.

Buta on Shoulder Mantle. Kashmir Paisley Shawl. Afghan Period. Kashmir ca. 1815 (The Kashmir Company Collectors Edition Collection).

Kashmiri shawls were incredibly complex to make and it could take up to a year and a half to make one shawl! The finest of these shawls were made from the down of a particular type of wild goat that lived in the Himalayas. In Spring, the goats would shed their hair on the rocks and bushes and this would be hand gathered and made into shawls. Pashmina shawls, shawls 'made from wool', were highly prized in Kashmir and were the gifts of princes.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski's Pashmina Scarf 1.
Techniques: Multi-dyed, block printed and stenciled employing dyes and pigment on viscose blend.
Size: 74 cm (width) x 195 cm (length).
Its available for you to purchase.

The demand for Kashmir shawls increased when employees of the British East India Company brought them back as gifts for their families. However, there was a need to make them cheaper as one shawl alone could cost between £200 and £300. Obviously only the social élite could afford to own a Kashmir shawl. Hence due to demand British manufacturers began to investigate ways to produce imitation shawls.

The first center to produce these imitation shawls was Edinburgh in 1777, which was followed by Norwich in 1784. The town of Paisley began manufacturing Kashmir shawls in around 1805. An Edinburgh shawl manufacturer by the name of Paterson had taken on too many orders for shawls. The French blockade of British ports meant that silk was impossible to import and so the highly skilled weavers in Paisley found themselves out of work. Paterson knew this and so he sent them some of his orders to fill. The Paisley workers soon realized that good profits could be made from shawl weaving and so several set themselves up as shawl manufacturers.

The Cross, with the Paisley Town Hall in the background.

One reason why Paisely's shawl industry outstripped its competitors was its efficient use of labor. Some eleven different specialists had a hand in the manufacture of each Paisley shawl. Yarns obtained from West Riding (Yorkshire) were prepared by highly skilled dyers; a beamer would measure out the warp threads and a warper would take over the task of entering them into the loom. The weaver's wife would put the weft threads onto the pins or bobbins ready to fit into the shuttles. After the weaver had finished, the shawls were taken to the manufacturer's warehouse for finishing. Firstly, the shawl would be passed beneath the rolling blades of the cropping machine. This removed, from the reverse side, all the surplus floating weft threads created by the weaving process. Next the shawls would be washed, and then stretched over large frames to dry evenly. Teams of girls were employed either to sew on pre-manufactured fringes, or to twist the warp thread-ends to form the fringing. Finally the shawls were calendared, or steam-pressed, to give a wonderful sheen to the surface of the fabric.

By far the longest and most painstaking process of a Paisley shawl, was the design stage, which may have taken up to four-fifths of the total production time. The manufacturers obtained their designs from various sources and by 1842, the patenting of designs allowed protection from other manufacturers between three and twelve months. Records of these patterns were lodged in the record office at Kew and one or two of the pattern books at Paisley contain both the patent certificates and samples of the patterns they refer to.


Paisley Patterns - Part I

Comment[1]: An unusual design strongly featuring stylized floral motifs, which come from the volume of sketches entitled: "Early Harness Sketches, 1823 - 1843.

Comment[1]: This design for a printed shawl, complete with "twill" lines, is one of repeating design associated with roller printing.

Comment[1]: This pattern clearly shows why, in some parts of Europe, the Paisley motif was referred to as the "tadpole". It is also a good example of diagonal lines incorporated in order to give the effect of the woven fabric.

Comment[1]: Design, ca. 1830, for a medallion center shawl. It could be used as drawn for the corners of the shawl, or multiplied fourfold for the central pattern.

Comment[1]: Designed for a very geometrical medallion corner, which also shows the borders and part of the center pattern. It probably dates to ca. 1830.

Comment[1]: This corner motif of the 1840s comes from a volume of print designs enigmatically entitled: No 2. An inscription reads '2 blotches £9-8'. Presumably this was the cost of having the blocks cut.

Comment[1]: From a selection of "Early Prints 1840-1845" comes this pull from a block. It exhibits the tendency for early print designs to recall the woven shawl designs of some thirty years before.

Comment[1]: 1820s design featuring stylized floral motifs.

Comment[1]: An odd, simplistic Paisley design, perhaps intended for roller printing. It is shown in two color combinations.


Reference
[1] V. Reilly, Paisley Patterns, Portland House, New York (1989).

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Figured Fabrics[1]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Preamble
This is the sixty-third post in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth.

Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Terms
Units Used in Dyeing and Printing of Fabrics
Occupational, Health & Safety
A Brief History of Color
The Nature of Color
Psychology of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
The Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index and Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fabric Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Knitting
Hosiery
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements

The Glossary of Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns and Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements have been updated in order to better inform your art practice.

If you find any post on this blog site useful, you can save it or copy and paste it into your own "Word" document etc. for your future reference. For example, Safari allows you to save a post (e.g. click on "File", click on "Print" and release, click on "PDF" and then click on "Save As" and release - and a PDF should appear where you have stored it). Safari also allows you to mail a post to a friend (click on "File", and then point cursor to "Mail Contents On This Page" and release). Either way, this or other posts on this site may be a useful Art Resource for you.

The Art Resource series will be the first post in each calendar month. Remember - these Art Resource posts span information that will be useful for a home hobbyist to that required by a final year University Fine-Art student and so undoubtedly, some parts of any Art Resource post may appear far too technical for your needs (skip over those mind boggling parts) and in other parts, it may be too simplistic with respect to your level of knowledge (ditto the skip). The trade-off between these two extremes will mean that Art Resource posts will hopefully be useful in parts to most, but unfortunately may not be satisfying to all!


Introduction
Figures in fabrics are made by knitting or weaving, while figures on fabrics are made by various finishes such as printing, embossing and flocking. Woven or knitted figures are permanent and are always “on grain”.

Stripe double weave geometric figure knit cardigan.

Figures made by finishes vary in permanence depending on the techniques and chemical used and the care with which they are plied. These figures are often “off-grain” in the filling or crosswise direction.

When a pattern piece is not correctly aligned with the grain the way it’s supposed to be, it is called off-grain.

Today’s post will center on figured fabrics in general.


Woven Figures
Woven figures are made by changing the weave pattern in the figure to make the figure stand out from the background or by using yarns of different color, twist or size. A combination of these two construction variations may be used. Either method requires a special loom or loom attachments. Woven figures are described as large figures, small figures and figures made with extra yarns.

White cotton, lilac prints, thread buttons, figures design, day dress, cotton woven, front bodice, ca. 1815.
Courtesy of Bows Museums.

Large Figures
Large figures require more than 25 different arrangements of the warp yarns to make the pattern. They are made on a Jacquard loom in which each warp is independently computer controlled.

A modern computerized Jacquard loom.

Each arrangement of warp yarns is computer controlled. The shed is formed for the passage of filling yarns.

The new technologies company, “Factum Arte” worked with artist Grayson Perry on all stages of the production of the tapestry "Maps of Truths and Beliefs", which was woven from digital files on a Jacquard loom in Belgium. Note: there is no repeat in the pattern from top to bottom or from side to side.

The repeat would be another picture. The figure below was made by a textile engineering student as a class exercise. It has a repeat both crosswise and lengthwise.

Exercise in threading Jacquard loom.

Fabrics made on a Jacquard loom are damask, brocade and tapestry. Damask has satin floats on the satin background, the floats in the design being in the opposite direction from those in the background. It is made from all kinds of fibers and in many different weights for apparel and home furnishings. Quality and durability are dependent on high count. Low-count damask is not durable because the long floats rough up, snag and shift during use.

Damask fabric.

Brocade has satin floats on a plain, ribbed or satin background. Brocade with a satin background differs from damask in that the floats in the design are more varied in length and are often of several colors.

Silk brocade fabric.

Originally, tapestry was an intricate hand-woven picture, usually a wall hanging that took years to weave. The Jaquard tapestry is mass-produced for upholstery, handbags and the like. It is a complicated structure consisting of two or more sets of warp and two or more sets of filling interlaced so that the face warp is never woven in the back and the back filling does not show on the face. Upholstery tapestry is durable if warp and filling yarns are comparable. Very often however, fine yarns are combined with coarse yarns and when these wear off, they release floats as long loose strings.

Jacquard tapestry and upholstery fabric – floral sofa cover.

Brocatelle is a tapestry like upholstery fabric similar to matelassé (see crepe fabrics) but made with heavy regular twist yarns.

Brocatelle. Luxurious silk linen Jacquard with embossed effect. Based on French ironwork motifs for residential upholstery.

Wilton rugs are figured pile fabric made on a Jacquard loom. These rugs, once considered imitations of Oriental rugs, are so expensive to weave that the turfting industry were trying to find ways to create similar figures using turfting.

Square Wilton rug.

Small Figures
Small figures require less than 25 different arrangements of warp yarns to make a pattern. They are made on a dobby loom.

The Leclerc Diana Computer-Dobby loom is a low cost sophisticated computer controlled hand weaving loom designed for workshops or applications in which space is an issue.

The Birdseye design has a small diamond-shaped filling-float design with a dot at the center that resembles the eye of a bird. The design was originally used in costly white silk fabric for ecclesiastical vestments. At one time it was widely used for towels and diapers.

Grey birdseye suit fabric.

Huck or huck-a-back has a pebbly surface made by filling floats. It is used primarily in face towels.

Blue huck towels.

Shirting madras has a small satin float designs on a ribbed or plain ground.

Stretch cotton poplin shirting madras fabric.

Extra-Yarn Figures
Figures made with extra yarns usually have warp or filling floats in the design area and cut ends at the extremities of the design. Extra warp yarns are wound on a spread beam and threaded into separate heddles. The extra yarns interlace with the regular filling yarns to form a design and float above the fabric until needed for a repeat. The floats are then clipped close to the design or clipped long enough to give an eyelash effect. The figure below shows a fabric before and after clipping.

Fabric made with extra warp yarns. Left: right side of fabric. Right: wrong side of fabric before and after clipping.

Extra filling yarns are inserted in several ways. Clipped spots are made with low-twist filling yarns inserted by separate shuttles. The shedding is done so that the extra yarn interlace with some warp and float across the back of others. Clipped spots are woven on a box loom that has a wire along the edge to hold the extra yarns so that they need not be woven in the selvage. The figure below shows a clipped spot dotted swiss before and after clipping.

Clipped spotted swiss: before and after clipping.

Swivel dots are made on a loom that has an attachment holding tiny shuttles. The fabric is woven face down to keep the shuttles and extra yarns above the ground fabric. Each shuttle carrying extra yarn goes four times around the warp yarns in the ground fabric and then the yarn is carried along the surface to the next spot. The yarn is sheared off between the spots.

Dotted swiss. Left: top to bottom – wrong side – clipped dots, swivel dots and paste dots. Right: top to bottom – right side – clipped dots, swivel dots and paste dots.

Dotted swiss is made with either clipped or swivel dots on a sheer cotton ground. The name is rather loosely used today to refer to any dotted fabric. The figure above shows three fabrics called dotted swiss. Notice in the clipped spot that the filling yarns are spread apart by the thick extra yarns and that there is no spreading with the swivel dot. The paste dot in the lower part of the figure is still called a swiss dot even though it is made by a finish rather than a weave. Paste dots are often used on nylons or polyester sheers, which require little or no ironing. There is no right or wrong side to dotted swiss even though it does look alike on both sides. It is a matter of opinion which side should be worn outside.

Figures by Finish
Figures by finish are usually cheaper than woven figures because decisions about the figures need not be made so early in the production process and orders for cloth can be filled more quickly.

Embroidered fabrics made on Schiffi machine, which consists of a frame 10 to 15 yards long, many needles and many shuttles containing bobbins.

RP Computerized Shuttle (Schiffli) Embroidery Machine is mainly used for making accessorial materials of various modern garment and embroidery material and laces.

The operation is similar to making fancy stitches on a sewing machine except that over 650 needles and bobbins are employed. All kinds and qualities of fabrics are embroidered.

Bruges bobbin lace produced on the Schiffli embroidery machine.

Other figures by finish that will be discussed in future posts include: Plissé, flocking, embossing, burnt-out, parchmentized and color printing.


Reference:
[1] N. Hollen and J. Saddler, Textiles, 3rd Edition, MacMillan Company, London (1968).