Saturday, February 22, 2014

Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints
Fine-Art Prints on Paper

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Although the art of printing originated most likely in China, the earliest existing prints are in fact Japanese. In 764 AD the Japanese Empress Shotoku decreed that one million miniature pagodas should be made, with each pagoda to contain one Buddhist charm on a slip of paper. In order to speed up production, the charms were printed rather than written.

Around 1088 Chinese Buddhist text appeared in Japan and one hundred years later, wood-block decorations were added to these texts. Furthermore, by the 12th Century wood block prints that reiterated Buddha’s name were commonplace and by the 15th Century, Buddhist texts were printed with grand and lavish front pieces that illustrated a distinctively Japanese style.

With the increasing wealth of the merchant class, there was a great explosion of secular books and prints. The first Japanese illustrative books appeared around 1650. The early books were simple scrolls with hand painted illustrations. However, very quickly books were printed and bound, with wood blocks used to create illustrations, thereby they could be printed along side the text in a single process. In 1660 Hishikawa Moronobu persuaded his publisher to sell his illustrated work as separate sheets with no text. He later signed his prints – Yamato esti – which means “master of Japanese painting”.

Hishikawa Moronobu (1618-1694) – Party on a Riverboat.

These prints could be purchased from publisher’s stores or from street vendors and so they found themselves being pasted on walls or screens to brighten up new homes. By the mid-19th Century they could be purchased for the same price as a bowl of rice.

The early illustrated books were mostly sex manuals, illustrating the traditional forty-eight positions. Others were guides to the famous courtesans of the day, with portraits and verse eulogies centring on their beauty and talents.

The early prints were in black and white, but as buyers demanded color, oranges and greens were often painted in by hand. By 1740 reds and greens were added to the published prints using extra wood blocks. Three- and four-color printing began in 1750s and by 1765, Suzuki Harunobu produced the first mass-produced full color prints.

Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1770) – Collecting Insects by Lamplight.

All of the images in this post have been procured from a wonderful book - a must have for your library – Nigel Hawthorne, The Art Of Japanese Prints, Hamlyn, Melbourne (1997). This post is just a sampler of what this tome has to offer.


Japanese Ukiyo-e Prints
Hishikawa Moronobu was the first great master of Japanese print. He freed prints from text. He was considered the father of ukiyo-e (ukiyo means “floating world” with the “e” ending meaning pictures; that is, ukiyo-e meaning “floating world pictures”). The initial style featured three key elements, namely: sexual activity, courtesans and Kabuki.

He was born into a family of brocade embroiderers, east of Tokyo bay. He studied under Kambun Master - an anonymous artist whose early prints appear from about 1660 to 1674. Moronobu passed on his skills to his pupils – Sugimura, Moroshige and Tomonobu.

Hishikawa Moronobu (1618-1694) – Raiko and Shutendoji.
Moronobu’s influence was to spread far beyond his own studio. The Kaigetsudo school under Kaigetsudo Ando (active 1700-1714), flourishing in the early 18th Century, began producing ukiyo-e prints, which depicted full-figured women in the style of Moronobu.

In the same period 1680s-1690s, Sugimura Jihei produced a large number of erotic prints, the style of which resembles that of Moronobu’s ukiyo-e. Sadly, nothing is known of his life.

Sugimura Jihei (active 1680-1698) – The Instant Lover.

Kabuku simply means “fashionable”. Many of the women dancers in Kabuki troupes supplemented their earnings by selling sexual favors. The authorities cracked down in order to prevent Kabuki merely being a front for prostitution. The wives and daughters of merchants flocked to the Kabuki and so it became an element in ukiyo-e.

Okumura Masanobu was self-taught, but learnt his art from studying the work of another ukiyo-e artist namely Torii Kiyonobu who founded the Torii school of painting. Masanobu was a great innovator. He developed the uki-e or “floating picture” which incorporated a Western sense of perspective. His other innovations were wide pillar pictures and pink pictures. The latter were hand colored with pink – the pink areas were then covered with lacquer or glue to give added luster.

Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764) – Girls Going To The Theatre.

Torii Kiyomasu was the second titular head of the Torii school of painting. He further developed his father’s highly stylized method in order to emphasize superhuman strength. He used strong lines in order to accentuate muscle tone. At that time, a rough style of acting in Kabuki was very popular.

Torii Kiyomasu II (1694-1716) – Actors in the Roles of Soga no Goro And Asahina Saburo.

Suzuki Harunobu introduced polychrome prints. He studied under Nishimura Shigenaga who invented narrow triptychs and stone painted pictures. He began work making actor prints in the style of the Torii school. When Harunobu was commissioned by a haiku poetry society to produce a calendar for 1765, he found a new and thicker paper had been developed that could withstand printing several times. At the same time registration notches had been devised that allowed the alignment and so proper registration of color. Hence polychromatic prints became possible.

Suzuki Harunobu (1725-1780) – The Assignation.

Katsukawa Shunsho brought a new realism to the actor prints and to the portraits of beautiful women. Along with his pupil Katsukawa Shunko he added prints of sumo wrestlers to the floating world picture cannon. These became a staple of the Katsukawa school along with half-length portraits of Kabuki actors. Another student Katsukawa Shunyei, began producing warrior prints.

Katsukawa Shunsho (1726-1792) – Lovers Becoming Familiar.

After the introduction of full-color printing, there followed the golden age of ukiyo-e prints. One of the leading proponents was Isoda Koryusai who relinquished his rank of samurai in order to become a ukiyo-e artist. The samurai were supposed to follow the tenets of Confucianism, which denies the beauty of women and preaches shame to men who are solely attracted by a woman’s charm. Theoretically samurai were not allowed into Yoshiwara or the Kabuki.

Isoda Koryusai (active 1765-1788) – The Courtesan Morokoshi of Echizan with Child and Attendant.

Kitao Masanobu studied under Kitao Shigemasa, who developed large size prints. Kitao Masanobu eventually abandoned large prints and became famous as a fiction writer using the pen name Santo Kyoden.

Kitao Masanobu (1761-1816) – Oban Diptych From Autographs Of Yoshiwara Beauties.

In the Kensei era (1789-1801) another attempt was made to clamp down on the publishing industry. The artists and writer’s of Edo’s floating world came under particular attack, with publisher Tsutaju having to close his shop due to fines and leading print maker Kitagawa Utamaro was jailed for making a series of prints which satirized figures from the sixteen century.

Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806) – Girl with a Mirror.

This led writers and printmakers to change tack. Some left, while others devised secret codes to fool the censors, and others moved to safer subjects. Katsushika Hokusai became a legend overnight with his “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”. There were actually forty-six views printed. Of course in the West he is also well known for the print – The Great Wave Of Kanagaw – which is a part of this series.

The printmakers who followed Hosukai’s wake were assisted with his Manga – a series of source-books for beginners, in which he sketched every conceivable subject.

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) – Fuji In Clear Weather (from the series “36 Views of Mount Fuji”).

Kitagawa Utamaro's great rival was Chobunsai Eishi, the son of a leading samurai family. His grandfather was a treasury minister in the Shogun government. Eishi himself was trained in the studio of an official painter Kano Eisen-in but in the early 1780s he resigned his position to pursue a career in ukiyo-e.

Initially he fell under the influence of Kiyonaga and then Utamaro. However, unlike these artists his prints never lost their aristocratic detachment. His women appear sublime, untouched by the real world and its cares.

Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1829) – A Beauty from the Pleasure Quarter.

The last great master of the ukiyo-e was Utagawa Hiroshige. He was a low ranked samurai. His father was the firewarden at Edo castle. By the age of ten, Hiroshige was producing impressive paintings and in 1811 he entered the studio of Utagawa Toyohiro, where he took the name Hiroshige. From 1818 on he produced actor prints, warrior prints and landscapes.

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) – A Seascape (from the series “60-Odd Famous Views Of the Provinces”).

While the ukiyo-e tradition continued, it never reached the height of popularity of the golden era. Eventually 20th Century Japanese printmakers could hardly help but be influenced by the West. Goyo Hashiguchi learnt Western-style painting under Kuroda Seiki. Although he has been compared to Utamaro and Hiroshige his compositions appear more influenced by Gaugin.

Like most modern ukiyo-e artists, Goyo worked in a very different way to the printmakers of the golden era. He did not just draw the design and leave the rest to the block-maker and printer. Rather he executed the whole process himself.

Goyo Hashiguchi (1880-1921) – Woman after the Bath.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Woven Textile Designs In Britain (1750 to 1763) - Part II [1]

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

For your convenience, I have listed below other posts in this genre:
Silk Designs of the 18th Century - Part I
Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1764 to 1789) - Part III
Woven Textile Designs in Britain (1790 to 1825) - Part IV
19th Century Silk Shawls from Spitalfields

There are a number of publications featuring the textile design collection held in the Victoria and Albert museum. A comprehensive book on the collection was written by D. King (British Textile Design in the Victoria and Albert Museum). More recently, Natalie Rothstein’s research into eighteenth century has resulted in two further major publications - Barbara Johnson’s Album of Fashion and Fabrics (1987) and Silk Designs of the Eighteenth in the Collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum (1990).

The images and information contained in this post have been procured from a great book – The Victoria & Albert Museum Textile Collection, N. Rothstein, Canopy Books, Paris (1994). Her research into the collection is comprehensive and insightful. A “must have” for your ArtCloth library collection.

Woven Textile Design in Britain From 1750 to 1763
A British committee enquiring into the silk industry in 1765 was told by a mercer that brocades on white grounds made in England were far superior to those made in France. From 1750 to 1770 this material predominated even though other colors and trends existed.

Although there was a shortage of raw silk in 1749, the 1750s were prosperous years. The Huguenots dominated the local Vestry and Weavers Company. The Huguenots were members of the Protestant Reform Church of France during the 16th and 17th centuries. The French Protestants were inspired by the writings of John Calvin in the 1530s, and they were called Huguenots by the 1560s. By the end of the 17th century and into the 18th century, roughly 500,000 Huguenots had fled France during a series of religious persecutions. They relocated to Protestant nations, such as England and because many of them were in the weaving industry they dominated British weaving in the 18th century.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1749-52.
Brocaded in colored silks and silver thread, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 60.3 x 51.8 cm.

The middle of the 18th was a period of expansion for English silks, ending in a boom in gauze in 1763, swiftly followed by a recession at the end of the Seven Years War. Several newly won markets were lost, the fashion for “gauze” declined, making 1763-66 the most difficult trading period the silk industry had faced.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1750-55.
Brocaded in colored silks, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 75 x 53.3 cm.

Some of the early master designers and/or weavers such as Leman and Dandrige had died prior to 1750. Perhaps the most prolific silk designer was Anna Maria Garthwaite whose output was typically 10-12 designs per year from 1755-1756, which hardly matched the 80 or so of earlier years. She was born in 1690 and died in 1763. She worked freelance in Spitalfields from about 1728 to 1756. She produced over a thousand designs for the leading weavers and mercers in her day. Despite the stylistic reaction against rococo, her name remained a by-word in the industry.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a “Tobine all over pattern”, 1752.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 30.5 x 27 cm.
The design bears the name of the weaver to whom it was sold, John Sabatier.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, 1752.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 30.5 x 27 cm.
The design bears the name of the weaver to whom it was sold, John Sabatier.

A break in style occurred ca. 1752-53. The flowers on brocaded silks continued to be life-size as in the 1740s but their stems were cut short and additional leaves omitted. A strong yellow was very popular. The types of flower were fewer and, perhaps under the French influence, were becoming more stylized.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1750-52.
Brocaded in colored silks, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 57.2 x 51.1 cm.

Woven Silk. Spitalfields, ca. 1755.
Brocaded in colored silks, with a flush pattern in the ground.
Repeat Size: 42.9 x 49.2 cm.

The designs for damasks still tended to be conservative. Simon Julins was a specialist in weaving damasks. He was a good customer of Garthwaite from 1742 to 1755. His silks are valuable evidence about the quality of English silks and who bought them. For example, one of his silks was exported to Boston, made into a dress, and finally given to the Museum of Fine Arts by descendants of the original owner.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1755.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 58 x 26 cm.
Inscribed with the name of the weaver, Simon Julins, to whom it was sold. There are silks woven from this design in the Norsk Folkmusset, Oslo (Norway) and in the National Museum, Copenhagen (Denmark).

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1751.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 59.8 x 27 cm.
Inscribed with the name of the weaver, Simon Julins, to whom it was sold. There is a silk woven from this design in buff in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts (USA) and another in crimson in the Kunstindustrimuseet, Oslo (Norway).

The preference of the rich but puritanical American customers for muted colors in their purchase of English silks can be illustrated. For example, the silk woven by Julins below, from a design of 1752, came from Scotland and is scarlet, but the version exported to Boston (USA) is light blue – another favorite American color of those times.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1752.
Woven by Simon Julins, Spitalfields.
Repeat Size: 109.8 x 48.9 cm.
There is another silk woven in light blue in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, (USA). The silk in the Victoria and Albert Museum came from Scotland; the Boston silk has a local provenance.

In this period the English designs were generally less ambitious than the French, but both the use of color and techniques were comparable. The technical feat of combining warp-printing with woven design was considerable. The year 1763 saw the last of the boom in gauze and the next decade from 1763 to 1773, took on a very different character.

Anna Maria Garthwaite, Design for a damask, 1751.
Watercolor on paper.
Repeat Size: 54.4 x 27 cm.
Inscribe with the name of the weaver, possibly John Phene to whom it was sold.

[1] The Victoria & Albert Museum Textile Collection, N. Rothstein, Canopy Books, Paris (1994).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Have Artists Who Use Fabricators Lost Their Mojo?
Opinion Piece on Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

We have already dealt with the distinction between mimicry and appropriation. Mimicry of another artistic work is a great learning tool but hardly constitutes original art, whereas appropriation is a transformative process - digesting someone else's artwork and regurgitating it in order to deliver an artwork with an entirely transformed and original act of engagement.

An example of an appropriated artwork is Marcel Duchamp’s painting - Mona Lisa (L.H.O.O.Q.) - which of course was appropriated from Leonardo Da Vinci's painting - Mona Lisa.

DuChamp's Mona Lisa (L.H.O.O.Q.)

On the other hand, an example of a mimicked artwork, I would contend as an artist and art critic, was Sam Leach's painting - “Proposal for a Landscape Cosmos” - which won the 2010 Wynne Prize for the "Best" Australian Landscape and which mimicked Adam Pynacker’s 1668 painting - “Boatmen moored on a lakeshore”. The latter painting was based on an Italian landscape which makes it difficult to reconcile how Leach could win a prize for the 2010 "Best" Australian landscape.

Adam Pynacker’s 1668 painting, “Boatmen moored on a lakeshore”. It was an Italian landscape that he had painted.

Sam Leach's painting, “Proposal For A Landscape Cosmos”. It won the 2010 Wynne Prize for "Best" Australian landscape. Note: Spot the differences between the two - the Australian landscape never looked so Italian. Newcastle Art Gallery (Australia) has now acquired Sam Leach's version of Pynacker's painting.

For further comments on the distinction between mimicry and appropriation, please see my previous post - Appropriation or Mimicry.

Today's post explores a further subtle shift in terms of what artists do or rather don't do. That is, artists who employ fabricators in order to birth their artwork may in fact confuse or distort who owns the critical component of the artwork namely, its originality - the artist, the fabricator or a mixture of both.

This is an opinion piece on art in order to generate a conscious awareness that artists need to address when employing fabricators. Some would argue that if they do use fabricators they are at risk of losing their mojo (i.e. their magical charm or spell or aura that surrounds the artwork as being entirely theirs).


Historical Context
Using fabricators to birth artworks into reality is a time honored tradition. Sculptors use fabricators all the time. A further example is illustrated by Marc Chagall who was already 35 years old when he started with printmaking techniques. At that time he lived in Berlin (Germany) with his wife Bella and his daughter Ida. He created woodcuts, etchings and a total of 24 lithographs. These early prints were drawn by the artist on paper and transformed into lithographs by a professional printer. At that time Chagall - like so many other famous artists - did not yet have the necessary knowledge nor skill to master the technical printing process himself.

Chagall's print - Apparition at the Circus.

What is not in doubt was that Chagall had created the concept of all of his prints and that the print houses slavishly reproduced his work. The fabricators (in this case the printing houses) did not add nor detract one iota from Chagall's original artistic intention.

Some wearable artists have used fabricators to manufacture their apparel. For example, it has become the modern trend to design a scarf, go to India or China and have their scarf completely manufactured in those countries according to the artist's design. That is, allowing these workers to cut the cloth, dye the cloth, stitch the cloth, create surface embellishments on the cloth and then sell it as the artist's wearable art, without giving credit to the manufactured process. The thinking here is that the article was paid for and so the fabricator was rewarded sufficiently and did not deserve the extra recognition by being acknowledged on the fabric tag.

Now fabricating artist's concepts is big business. For example, K&M machine fabricators claim that their "...unique Sculpture Fabricating Division is a nationally recognized resource for artists working with large-scale metal designs. From the artist's design, K&M fabricates, transports and installs contemporary artworks for architects, art museums, corporations, colleges and universities, hospitals, libraries, state agencies and city governments. We also provide consultation and quotations for those seeking to purchase or commission outdoor sculptures."

One of K&M sculptured artworks - artist(s) not credited.

Nevertheless, using a fabricator can cause problems. Patricia Piccinini is an Australian artist who works with fabricators in order to produce some of her artworks. Sam Jinks was the sculptor responsible for the fabrication of her silicone creature pieces from 2001-2006.

Patricia Piccinini, Mother (2005).
Fabricator: Sam Jinks.

Truck Babies was modeled by Paul Kuchera but since 2001 Robin Fischer, Scott Seedsman and John Kral have sculpted and painted her fiberglass automotive works.

Patricia Piccinini, Truck Babies at Berlin.
Fabricator: Paul Kuchera.

Dennis Daniel has done extensive computer modeling and animation for her since 1997. Full credits for her work can be found on her website and in her catalogs. She now works with Sydney-based special effects firm MEG.

She is well aware how her artworks are brought into life. She has addressed her dilemma as follows:

"This discussion has lead me a long way from the technology role that technology plays in my work. That is appropriate, as I do not like to isolate any particular element of my work as more important than another. Certainly technology is a critical aspect of my practice, on both a formal and conceptual level, but I do not like to think its defines my work. Rather, ideas define my work and technology transforms those ideas into a lived experience".

Artists generally are loose in defining roles that fabricators play in their work. It is not unusual (unlike Piccinini) for artists not to give credit to their fabricators since they believe that the process of "making" the artwork into a reality is a trivial process when compared to the conceptualization of it. This point of view is not helpful, since it is not factual - the artwork was made by someone or something!

The Dilemma
If I gave a water color sketch of an artwork to another artist to paint it on canvas, wouldn't the skill in the paint strokes somehow transform the original sketch? You might say that no one asks an oil painter to do their water color sketches on canvas, but aren't you missing the point? Many artists use fabricator(s) for a whole range of processes including glass sculpture.

Dale Chihuly’s sketch of his Persian Pergola.

Dale Chihuly’s Persian Pergola. Note: He enlisted others in his workshop to create the various glass pieces.

Below is my water color sketch of my ArtCloth work - Winter Bolt - part of my Four Australian Seasons).

Water color rough of Winter Bolt.

Compare it to my finished ArtCloth piece shown below. Note: I decided to remove the wavelets in my final work.

Title: Winter Bolt - Four Australian Seasons.
Technique: Hand painted and heat transferred using disperse dyes on satin.
Size: ca. 1.50 (width) x 2.00 (length) meters.
Held: Artist Collective – not available for purchase.
Note: The cloud wavelets are not present in the finished artwork due to my Zen "no-mind" state directing the artwork instead of me slavishly following the rough. You will note that in my "no-mind" state I have darkened the background of the artwork as the eye descends and thinned out the liquid sun (that is in the form of a bolt), both elements of which I believe indicate - in a more subtle manner - a wintery/watery feel.

Clearly the act of engagement of the ArtCloth piece is significantly different from that of the water color sketch. Hence, the process of using disperse dyes on satin has clearly changed the act of engagement and so the process and who did the process should at least be acknowledged.

What made me aware of this dilemma was when I recently visited a gallery and the curator said that a particular artwork was done by so-and-so and yet when I questioned her it came to pass that a weaving group did the finished artwork, the motifs on it were that of a local aboriginal group and the person who the curator attributed the artwork to, contributed only two words in the centre of the art piece and was the facilitator who brought the group together in order to "collectively" design and do the work. Surely this is stretching credibility to an extreme. At best, the process of how the artwork birthed into being should have been documented in order to give the "collective" a rightful acknowledgement of its creation. I believe this was an inappropriate attribution.

Best Practice
Scientists, musicians and film makers have long demonstrated "best practice" in acknowledging who did what on any finished product. Take musical records for example: the record company prints its label on the record as well as the songwriter(s), the singer(s), the musician(s), the producer(s), the arranger(s) and any other person(s) or group(s) that are relevant for its production. Moreover, musicians are well aware when their creativity is locked in a "collective" (name of the band etc.) A perfect example of this is the musical group - "The Highway Men". They featured in the first instance Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings - each a Country star in their own right but when they came together, it was the "collective" that was the creative motivating force behind their records.

"The Highway Men". They featured, in the first instance, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.

Similarly with movies - who sits through those rolling credits - but they are there so that everyone associated with the movie is correctly acknowledged. After all, these credits help the various "behind the scene" people to secure future employment.

Such "collectives" in art is not unusual. For example, the "Tin Sheds Poster Collection" was established at the University of Sydney (Australia) during the 1970s by artists working within the Tin Sheds Art Collective, Lucifoil Collective and the EarthWorks Poster Collective. These three poster collectives were associated with the Tin Sheds Art Workshops between 1976 and 1988.

Toni Robertson, Women’s Liberation (1976).
Earthworks Poster Collective.

I believe that the "best" practice - in giving attribution - definitely lies with the Australian Tapestry Workshop. This is how they attribute one of their tapestries.

Typical attribution and information given by the Australian Tapestry Workshop.
Title: The Reception Hall Tapestry (Detailed view of one section of the tapestry).
Designer: Arthur Boyd.
Interpretation: Leonie Bessant.
Weavers: Leonie Bessant, Sue Carstairs, Irene Creedon, Robyn Daw, Owen Hammond, Kate Hutchinson, Pam Joyce, Peta Meredith, Robyn Mountcastle, Joy Smith, Jennifer Sharp, Irja West.
Size: 9.18 x 19.90 meters.

It is clear who has done what, without any equivocation and moreover, they do not assign a weighting to the importance of any role, except in the order of the listing. They leave the "collective" weighting to the eye of the beholder.

The Legal Position
Artist hate being locked into legalities. They want to be free in order to roam a universe of concepts and so see the law as an impost, a straight jacket that they can do without. However, if you are using fabricator(s) to birth your artwork, you should at least keep your original drawings so no one is in doubt that the conceptual artwork was yours. This would help to maintain your copyright over your own ideas and moreover, prove to any doubting Thomas, that the fabrication was a skilled exercise of process in order to birth the concept into reality.

If your artwork always requires fabricator(s) then you might consider going into a legally binding contractual arrangement with your fabricator(s). Your contract should contain clauses that will require:
(i) strict adherence to your concept(s) and any variation to your concept(s) will result in the destruction of the artwork by your hand at no cost to yourself;
(ii) that no other reproduction of your artwork(s) will be allowed without your consent;
(ii) that you and you alone retain complete ownership of the copyright.

We live in a litigious world and surely you would not be surprised that if any of your artworks are of significant value, then others may want to claim a part of it as their own.

I believe you should always attribute your fabricator(s) (even if you paid them) and follow the "best" practice as set by the Australian Tapestry Workshop. After all, if you are so confident that the process of birthing your artwork was immaterial to the overall engagement of it, others will also see the relevance of your point of view but moreover, they will be at least informed about who fabricated it. Everyone will appreciate the generosity of your spirit!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) – Cotton[1-3]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the twenty-fourth 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 Cultural and Architectural 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
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
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements
Crêpe Fabrics
Crêpe Effect Fabrics
Pile Fabrics - General
Woven Pile Fabrics
Chenille Yarn and Tufted Pile Fabrics
Knit-Pile Fabrics
Flocked Pile Fabrics and Other Pile Construction Processes
Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms
Napped Fabrics – Part I
Napped Fabrics – Part II
Double Cloth
Multicomponent Fabrics
Knit-Sew or Stitch Through Fabrics
Finishes - Overview
Finishes - Initial Fabric Cleaning
Mechanical Finishes - Part I
Mechanical Finishes - Part II
Additive Finishes
Chemical Finishes - Bleaching
Glossary of Scientific Terms
Chemical Finishes - Acid Finishes
Finishes: Mercerization
Finishes: Waterproof and Water-Repellent Fabrics
Finishes: Flame-Proofed Fabrics
Finishes to Prevent Attack by Insects and Micro-Organisms
Other Finishes
Shrinkage - Part I
Shrinkage - Part II

There are currently eight data bases on this blogspot, namely, the Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, the Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, the Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns, Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements, Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms and the Glossary of Scientific Terms, which has been updated to Version 3.5. All data bases will be updated from time-to-time in the future.

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!

In order to understand dyeing textile materials, we need to have some understanding of the properties of fibers that make up the yarns that are the basics of the fabrics we wish to dye. The next few Art Resource blogs will center on cellulosic fibers.

Textile fibers composed of pure cellulose are:
(i) Natural cellulosic fibers, namely, abaca, coir, cotton, flax, hemp, henequen, jute, kenaf, sisal etc.
(ii) Man-made cellulosic fibers: cuprammonium, polynosic and viscose etc.

Today the spotlight will be on cotton – a natural cellulosic fiber.

Mature Cotton Boll.

History of Cotton
No one knows exactly how old cotton is. Scientists searching caves in Mexico found bits of cotton bolls and pieces of cotton cloth that proved to be at least 7,000 years old. They also found that the cotton itself was much like that grown in America today.

In the Indus River Valley in Pakistan, cotton was being grown, spun and woven into cloth 3,000 years BC. At about the same time, natives of Egypt’s Nile valley were making and wearing cotton clothing. Cotton was considered to be a "tree wool" in the early ages of mankind. It was thought that cotton was a type of "lamb" that grew of shrubs and bent down in the wind to graze on land. Alexander the Great was given credit for bringing the first cotton to Europe and North Africa from India, where it was grown and spun on looms for at least 2,000 years. Today some of the best cotton is still grown in the Nile valley of Egypt.

Cotton Plant.

When the Spaniards came to America, they found the Pima Indians in the South West of the USA were growing cotton. After the American revolution, the South Eastern States of the USA became an important cotton producing area.

The most tedious chore in preparing cotton for yarn was removing the seeds from the cotton fibers. After Eli Whitney invented his cotton engine (or "gin") to do this job in 1793, it became possible to produce cotton on a commercial scale.

Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin.

The word "cotton" is derived from the Arabic language and depending on the dialect was pronounced kutan, qutn, qutun etc. As cotton fiber is derived from a plant it is classified as a natural, cellulose, seed, mono-cellular staple fiber. The fiber density is 1.52 g/cm3, which makes cotton a rather heavy weight fiber.

Cross-Section of a Mature Cotton Boll.
Note: Hand holding a sectioned mature boll (seed capsule) from a cotton plant (Gossypium sp.) Cotton is grown for the white fibers (lint) seen in this boll which are used to make cloth.

There are many varieties of cotton, each serving a different purpose. Pima, Supima and Egyptian are the name of a long staple fiber. This means that the fibers are longer and finer than usual. They average between 1.25" (3.2 cm) and 2" (5.1 cm) in length. The most common variety, Upland, which is used in most cotton articles, averages 0.5" (1.25 cm) to less than 1" (2.54 cm) in length.

Structure of Cotton Fiber
The cotton polymer is a linear, celloluse polymer. The repeating unit in the polymer is cellobiose, which consists of two glucose (or sugar) units. The cotton polymer consists of 5,000 of these units. It is a very long, linear polymer, about 5,000 nm in length and 0.8 nm thick.

The most important chemical groups are the hydroxyl group (-OH) and the methylol group (-CH2OH). Their polarity gives rise to hydrogen bonds between the OH groups of adjacent cotton polymers, yielding a structural integrity to the cotton polymer system. It should be also noted that van der Waals forces are also present, but these forces are much weaker than hydrogen bonds.

Shape of Cotton Cellulose.
Note: Cotton cellulose is like a ribbon – long, thin and flat and so the cellulose structure neatly packs into an organized crystalline system.
Courtesy reference[1].

Microstructure of Cotton Fiber.

Cotton fibers are amongst the finest in common use, with a fiber diameter ranging from 11 to 22 microns. Compared to wool, the cotton fiber diameter is not considered as critical as its length. The fiber length to breadth ratio ranges from 6,000:1 for the longest and best fibers, to 350:1 for the shortest and coarsest cotton types. The greater this ratio the more readily can cotton fibers be spun into a yarn.

Electronically Scanned (Electron Micrograph) Cotton Fibers.

Cotton fibers vary in color from white to light tan, depending on its type, environment, soil and climatic conditions under which it is grown. These factors influence the amount of protein and minerals, which occur in the fiber and hence determine its natural color.

Macro Structure of Cotton
Cotton is a crystalline fiber, not too dissimilar to silk, in that 65 to 75% is crystalline and 35-30% is amorphous. As a result the cotton polymers are well orientated and the polymeric units are not further than 0.5 nm apart in the crystalline regions, since this is the maximum distance that hydrogen bonding can take place.

The cellobiose units have a hexagonal shape (see above) and are connected via oxygen linkages. They can be thought of having the same structure as chicken wire. The crystalline regions are therefore the well-ordered lines and rows of hexagonal holes of the wire netting. The amorphous regions are a disarrangement of these orderly lines and rows of hexagons.

Cross-Section of Cotton Fiber.
Note: The cross-section of cotton has a kidney like shape.
Courtesy reference[1].

Physical Properties
Burning Behavior
Cotton burns like paper, which is also cellulosic. It will continue to burn when the source of the fire is removed. The odor is that of burning paper; there is a soft grey ash and an afterglow.

Dimensional Stability
Shrinkage can be expected of all cotton cloth unless subjected to shrinkage control processes.

Elastic-Plastic Nature
The cotton fiber is relatively inelastic, due to the crystalline structure of the cotton polymer system and for this reason, cotton fabrics tend to wrinkle and crease easily. Only under considerable strain will cotton polymers slide pass each other, thereby causing permanent deformation. Usually, the cotton polymers are prevented from doing so by their extreme length and countless hydrogen bonds, which tend to bind them within their polymer system. Bending or crushing of cotton fabric places considerable strain on the fibers’ polymer system and so it will cause polymer fracture since the crystalline nature of the cotton polymer system makes it difficult for the cotton polymer to be displaced by crushing or bending. Such weakening of the polymer system, and therefore fiber structure, causes cotton fabrics to readily crease and wrinkle.

Hygroscopic Nature
Cotton fibers are very absorbent owing to their polar –OH groups contained in its polymer structure that will attract the polar water molecules. However, water can only enter into the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system, as the inter-polymer spaces in the crystalline region are far too small for the water molecule to penetrate. Aqueous swelling of the cotton fiber is due to a separation or forcing apart of polymers by water molecules in the amorphous regions only.

Water Absorption in Amorphous Region of the Cotton Polymer System.
Note: The only region water can go is into the voids of the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system, thereby being able to hydrogen bond with the hydroxyl groups of the cellulose.
Courtesy reference[1].

The general crispness of dry cotton fabrics is attributed to the rapidity with which the fibers can absorb moisture from the skin. This rapid absorption imparts a sensation of dryness, which in association with the fibers’ inelasticity or stiffness creates a sensation of crispness.

The hygroscopic nature of cotton fabrics generally prevents it from developing static electricity. The polarity of the water molecules, attracted to the hydroxyl groups on the cotton polymers, dissipates any static charge.

Microscopic Appearance
Each fiber has a natural twist. Short fibers can make strong yarns as the fibers tend to adhere together.

Natural Body
Cotton is limp unless specially treated.

Resiliency and Elasticity
Fabrics of cotton will wrinkle easily and need ironing after wear and laundering, unless treated with a special finish.

Static Electricity
Free from static electricity problems, cotton fabrics will not cling in cold, dry weather. Cotton cloths are safe for use in operating rooms and near oxygen tents as they do not generate sparks.

Susceptibility to Moths and Mildew
Not affected by moths. Mildew will grow on cotton fabric if left moist in a warm place for a long time.

Tenacity (Strength)
The strength of cotton fibers is attributed to the good alignment of its long polymers (65 - 70% being crystalline), the countless, regular hydrogen bonds that hold adjacent polymers together and the spiralling fibrils in the primary and secondary cell walls of the fibers (see above).

It is one of the few fibers that actually becomes stronger the wetter it is. This is because the water molecules (that have infused in the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system) temporarily improve the polymer alignment in this region, due to the additional hydrogen bond formations, resulting in a 5% increase in fiber tenacity.

Cross-Section of Cotton Fiber on Water Absorption.
Note: Water absorption causes greater alignment of the crystalline regions in the micorfibrils.
Courtesy of reference[1].

Thermal Properties
Cotton fibers have the ability to conduct heat, minimizing destruction caused by heat accumulation. Thus they can readily withstand hot ironing temperatures. The crystalline structure of the cotton polymer system implies that hot iron temperatures will vibrate the polymers and so rupture many hydrogen bonds, but in doing so many other hydrogen bonds will be formed as the polymers get to within 0.5 nm of each other. Thus as many bonds are broken as are formed, maintaining the structural integrity of the cotton polymer system under an applied heat stress.

Excessive application of heat causes the cotton fiber to char and burn, without any prior melting. This implies that cotton fabrics are not thermoplastic, which is attributable to the extremely long fiber polymers and the countless hydrogen bonds they form. These prevent the polymers from assuming new positions when heat is applied, as would be the case with shorter length polymers of thermoplastic fibers. When excessive heat is applied, cotton polymers violently vibrate destroying all the hydrogen bonds, and not allowing others to form. Hence the integrity of the structure of the cotton polymer system is destroyed and moreover, eventually results in violent chemical reactions, which is the hallmark of fiber combustion.

Fabrics of cotton can easily be washed in hot water with strong soaps. Bleach may be used on cloth that has not been resin treated. A hot iron can be used, but a very hot iron may scorch the fiber.

Other Properties
Cotton is weakened and will eventually disintegrate if exposed to strong sunlight. Perspiration and anti-perspirants can damage cotton, especially in the presence of heat. For this reason it is not wise to press a soiled garment.

Chemical Properties
Effect Of Acids
Cotton fibers are weakened and destroyed by acids, since acids hydrolyze cotton polymer at the glucoside oxygen atom (O), which links the two glucose units together to form the cellobiose unit. Mineral or inorganic acids (such as hydrogen chloride) will hydrolyze the cotton polymer more rapidly than the weaker organic acids (such as citric acid).

Effect Of Alkalis
Cotton fibers are resistant to alkalis and so are relatively unaffected by normal laundering. The resistance is attributed to the lack of attraction between the cotton polymers and alkalis. Mercerising without tension, or slack mercerising, causes cotton fiber to swell; that is, an increase in thickness and a contraction in length. The swelling is due to alkalis molecules or their radicals, entering the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system. In doing so they force the cotton polymers further apart causing swelling. Swelling creates greater inter-polymer spaces, permitting poorly aligned polymers to orient themselves more satisfactorily and so create additional hydrogen bonds. The latter explains the increase in fiber strength on mercerising.

Mercerising under tension, which can only be carried out on the cotton yarn or fabric, causes some fiber swelling or fiber contraction. The fiber emerges with increased tenacity and with a distinct, though subdued luster. Tensioning the cotton yarn or fabric in an aqueous alkali liquor assists the fiber molecules to align themselves further, leading to an increase in hydrogen bond formation and thus to an increase in tenacity. Mercerising under tension also causes the fiber surface to become smooth and more regular, thereby enabling it to reflect incident light more evenly. This is responsible for the subdued luster that is associated with tension mercerised cotton textile materials.

Either type of mercerising swells the fibers sufficiently to alter their normal kidney-shaped cross-section to a circular one. Hence mercerised cotton fibers dye and print a deeper hue; that is, a hue with more chroma compared with the equivalent unmercerised cotton fibers when using the same quantity of dye.

Effect Of Bleaches
Most common bleaches used on cotton fabrics are sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and sodium perborate (Na2BO2H2O2.3H20). The former is a yellowish liquid smelling of chlorine (Cl), whereas the latter is a white powder commonly available in most domestic laundry detergents. Sodium hypochlorite bleaches cotton at room temperature, whereas sodium perborate is more effective when the laundry solution exceeds 500C.

These two bleaches are oxidizing bleaches, which is the class of bleaches used most frequently on cotton textile materials. They bleach most effectively in alkaline conditions to which cotton textile materials are resistant.

These bleaches liberate oxygen, which actual does the bleaching. In general it is thought that the liberated oxygen forms water-soluble compounds with the fiber surface contaminants, and these water-soluble compounds can then be rinsed from the surface of the textile material.

Careful bleaching leaves the fiber polymer system largely intact and in fact, retards further chemical attack of the bleaches to the fiber surface.

Effect Of Sunlight And Weather
Atmospheric moisture (humidity) significantly contributes to the breakdown of the polymers on the surface of the cotton fibers via hydrolytic reactions. Initially the polymer hydrolysis is noticed as a slight discoloration, which accelerates due to the accumulation of hydrolytic products, which further assists in the breakdown of the fiber, thereby destroying the structure of the cotton polymer system.

In general, air pollutants are acidic and may rapidly breakdown, via acid hydrolysis, the cotton polymer system.

Fading of colored cotton fabrics is partly due to the breakdown of the fiber molecule in the fibers’ polymer system.

Cotton is considered a relatively easy fiber to dye and print, with azoic, direct, reactive, sulfur and vat dyes being used. The ease in which cotton takes up dyes, and other coloring matter, is due to the polarity of its polymers and its polymer system. Its polarity readily attracts any polar dye molecule into the amorphous region of its polymer system. It should be noted that the crystalline region of the cotton polymer system is not spacious enough to house dye molecules. In fact any dye molecules, which can be dispersed in water will be absorbed by the cotton polymer system.

Azoic Dyes
Azoic dyeing or printing occurs when two relatively small, water-soluble molecules are made to react, within the amorphous region of the polymer system, to form comparatively much larger, water-insoluble azoic dye molecules.

The very good to excellent light-fastness of azoic dyed and printed cotton fabrics is due to the resistance of the azoic dye molecules to photochemical degradation of UV light.

The very good to excellent wash-fastness of azoic dyed and printed cotton fabrics is due to the relatively large azoic dyed molecules unable to exit because of the much smaller exit gaps in the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system. The azoic dyes are attracted to the fiber polymer via van der Waals forces and as these forces are weak, it is the water insolubility and the relatively large size of the dye molecules and entanglement in the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system, which is responsible for the very good to excellent wash-fastness properties.

Direct Dyes
The attraction between fiber molecules and dye molecules is called substantivity. Since the substantivity of direct dyes for cotton is very great, they have also been given the name of the cotton colors.

Direct dyed and printed cotton fabrics have only moderate light-fastness due to the direct dye molecules being affected by photochemical and atmospheric degradation, the latter is due to air pollutants.

The poor wash-fastness of direct dyed and printed fabrics is attributed to the good water solubility of direct dye molecules. As the direct dye molecules are only attached to the cotton polymer via hydrogen bonding and weak van der Waals forces, an aqueous solution will break these forces of attraction, since the attraction of water molecules to a direct dye molecule exceeds the attraction between the direct dye molecule and the cotton polymer. The cotton fiber will swell in water, enabling some of the direct dye molecules to be removed from the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system. Hence increasing the molecular size of direct dyes can mitigate this process somewhat, because even if it is swollen, very large direct dye molecules cannot find large enough spaces to escape the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system.

Reactive Dyes
As their name applies, reactive dyes react chemically with the hydroxyl groups of the fiber polymer to form strong covalent bonds, which require large inputs of energy to sever the bonds. Hence reactive dyed and printed fabrics are inert to most degrading agents, and so are also resistant to photochemical and environmental degradation; that is, good light-fastness and good wash-fastness properties.

On the other hand, chlorine bleaches and chlorinated water, such as seawater and water in swimming pools, degrade some reactive dyes. The presence of chlorine, the ions of which are very electronegative, disrupts the covalent bonds and therefore assist in the de-coloration of the cotton fabric. Note: Only some and certainly not most, reactive dyes are chlorine sensitive.

Sulfur Dyes
Sulfur dye cotton fabrics have excellent wash-fastness since the relatively large sulfur dye molecules become tapped and entangled in the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system. These dye molecules are also insoluble in water and so this property further assists the wash-fastness of sulfur dyed and printed cotton fabrics.

The sulfur dyed molecules are held in the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system by van der Waals forces, but as these forces are extremely weak, their presence would not account for excellent wash-fastness properties of sulfur dyed and printed cotton fabrics.

Sulfur dye and printed cotton fabrics have only fair light-fastness, which is attributable to the lack of resistance of sulfur dye molecules to photochemical degradation. An “after treatment” of sulfur dyed and printed cotton fabric can improve their light-fastness.

Vat Dyes
Vat dyed and printed cotton fabrics have excellent wash-fastness, because the vat dyes are large molecules, which become trapped and entangled with the amorphous region of the cotton polymer system. This process together with vat dye molecules being water insoluble make it next to impossible for water molecules to remove the vat dyes from the amorphous regions of the cotton polymer system. The vat dyes being non-polar can only form van der Waals interactions with the cotton polymer molecules and so contribute little to their wash-fastness.

Generally, vat dyed and printed cotton fabrics have excellent light-fastness due to the chemical composition of the vat dyes that make them resistant to photochemical and atmospheric degradation. However, there are some exceptions to this observation, (e.g. indigo).

[1] A Fritz and J. Cant, Consumer Textiles, Oxford University Press, Melbourne (1986).
[2] E.P.G. Gohl and L.D. Vilensky, Textile Science, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne (1989).
[3] E.J. Gawne, Fabrics for Clothing, Chas. Bennett Co. Inc., Illinois (1973).