Saturday, December 31, 2011
Printed and Painted Fabrics
Printed fabrics are a development of the hand-painted fabrics of China and India, particularly the latter. The English and French, unable to compete with the cheap labor of the East in reproducing these cloths developed a system of reproducing the Eastern designs by means of hand blocks.
The making of patterns by this process became an art in itself. In England these printed upholstery materials were called chintzes, while in France they were given the name of cretonne.
In England the chintzes were often glazed, and this process was introduced in America, where the demand for glazed material had taken a sudden jump, due to the earlier generations required light and color, and printed fabrics fit this need for wood framesand other accessories more than other materials from an economical as viewpoint.
The best known of all fabrics of this character were the toiles de Jouy, produced in France during the latter half of the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth centuries. They surpassed by far everything that had gone before.
Philip Oberkampf, born in Ansbach, Bavaria, became a naturalized Frenchman and opened a workshop in the town of Jouy, near Versailles, where he did practically all of the work himself. From the designing and making of the blocks to selling the finished product, Oberkampf was trained to his profession almost from the cradle. He was an apprentice in the dye-works of his father at the age of eleven.
At eighteen he was able to teach printers the use of fast tints. His goods became so popular and his establishment grew in such a remarkable manner that he was ennobled by the king. The earliest Jouy prints were in red, and the patterns were distinctly inspired from Chinese tapestry window toppers originals.
Later, peasant scenes were introduced, then allegorical and mythological subjects and scenes from contemporary history, including the beginnings of the French Revolution and the American Revolutionary War - subjects which were informative as well as interesting as motifs.
The name of Jean Baptiste Huet should be mentioned as one of the artists of the period who executed many sketches for the Oberkampf prints. Oberkampf spared no expense and effort in obtaining the best talent, and he employed as many as fifteen hundred workers, a great number for that time.
The print works expanded as he introduced roller printing on the continent. He also sent agents to England and India to discover the eastern secret of producing brilliant colors. The fame of Jouy did not live beyond the Empire, and Oberkampf died in 1815. The splendid work of Jouy, however, has endured over the years.
Textile printing was known in India at an early date and spread over the near and Far East. Specimens of Indian cotton fabrics have been found in tombs and in ancientornamental pediment.
Their printing technique was elaborate and forms the basis of our early textile printing. The pattern was not stained on the cloth but dyed into the cloth so that it could not be washed out. The pattern was applied either by hand painting, block-printing, or stenciling.
The colors were strong in tone and the designs told stories of a new country, especially to the people of England, France, Holland and Portugal where they were introduced by merchants in the eighteenth century. The designs of the Indian textiles serve us today as beautiful models for modern work. One attraction of the Indian prints in Europe was the fact that they were made of cotton, a material not known in Europe at this time.
Europe did not depend entirely on India for designs. We see Italian motifs appearing, the flower bouquets of Louis XIV, the pastoral and the mythological scenes of the Louis XV style. The vogue for printed fabrics in Europe became so great in the seventeenth century that the French government forbade the importation of them because the silk weavers were in great danger.
A similar law was passed in England, but this law did not seem to stop the appreciation of the Indian chintzes. Society was anxious for these forbidden fabrics and obtained them in spite of all restrictions.
Stenciled materials are in reality painted. Patterns are cut out of paper, which is laid on the fabric or wood picture frames, and the colors are applied with a brush. Batiks originated in Java, and during recent years have enjoyed great popularity in America. The process is a complicated one in which the effect is obtained by dyeing.
The portions to be left plain are coated with wax, while crackled effects are obtained by cracking the wax and dipping the fabric in the dye in this condition. The dye then penetrates the fissures, giving an irregular, but interesting pattern. A separate operation is necessary for each color desired and is dependent on the ability of the artist and his knowledge of dyes.
Posted on 12/31 at 05:35 PM