Saturday, September 27, 2014

Historical Australian D’oyley[1]
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The 1885 edition of “The Dictionary of Needlework” by Sophia Caulfield and Blanche Saward defined d'oyley as:
“This was once the name of a woollen stuff, but is now that of a small article of napery [i.e. house linen]. It is usually produced with fringed edges, for use at dessert, or for the toilet. D'oyleys are woven in both cotton and linen; in white and ingrain colours. The name appears to be derived from the Dutch dwaele, signifying a towel.”

According to this article another explanation for the term d’oyley (also spelt doilies, d’oyleys, and d’oilies) originated from the time of William the Conqueror when one of the knights, Robert D’Oyley was granted land in Oxfordshire and in return had to give his king a linen cloth each year. These pieces of cloth were known as “D’Oyleys” and so the term was applied to small cloths. The name has also been attributed to the fabric supplied by a 17th Century London linen draper. Hence, there is really no definitive explanation of the origin of the name.

Blue linen d’oyley by Mary Palmer, Sydney (Australia) ca. 1930s.

Designs for d’oyleys proliferated in Australia from the 1890s to 1914. Many of the Australian historical embroidered d’oyleys, termed fancy work by their owners, were made when they were young girls in Australian schools or for their glory boxes in their late teen years. Early in the 20th Century Aboriginal women living on remote missions were taught crochet techniques.

Aboriginal girls at the Weipa mission (Australia) sewing garments to send to the Brisbane exhibition in 1912.

D’oyley made by women at Mapoon mission, Cape York, Queensland (Australia) ca. 1919. Hay family papers, Cape York Collection, Hibberd Library, Weipa (Australia).

In Australia crochet d’oyleys centered on tray cloths, scone cloths, runners for the table, and jug covers, predominately in white lacy patterns that accentuated the appetizing freshness of the food offered. Many of the d’oyleys centered on the table setting. Others were for the parlor or sitting room – table, sideboard runners, table cloths and antimacassars.

D’oyleys were on many different shapes, each of which had its specific function. There were round cake d’oyleys to be placed under a cake on a plate, elongated sandwich d’oyleys for silver trays, scone cloths, which folded over scones at each corner to keep them warm, and d’oyleys for milk, tea and sugar. Large rectangular d’oyleys were antimacassar for placing on the back of chairs so the men’s macassar hair oil would not stain the furniture. Duchesse sets were made for the dressing table – a large oval d’oyley under the jewelry box, a small circular one on either side for the mirror and brush and comb, and one or two others for trinkets, perhaps, or for a small vase of flowers.

Historical Australian D’Oyleys
Much of the information of early Australian d’oyley designs has been lost. Women's craft has never been valued as historical documents in their own right. They were kept at home in bundles and then later thrown out as relics of a bygone fashion; fashions changed and people needed to make way for more space to house their ever increasing wares. Local libraries were not interested in housing d’oyley designs and so major library collections in Australia are sparse. Below are just a snippet of historical Australian d’oyley designs.

Crocheted plate d’oyleys made by Louise Tufnell of Sydney (Australia) between 1918-1925.

Filet lace dressing table d’oyley by Mary Delanety, Euroa, Victoria (Australia) ca. 1920.
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

Stencilled and painted d’oyleys. Grapes and leaves painted on velvet by Mrs. Ruby Falconer (neé Burgess) of Brisbane (Australia) ca. 1920. The outline was first burnt like poker.

Waterlilies painted in lavender by Ruby Falconer, ca. 1920.
Photography courtesy of K. Atkinson.

Crocheted d’oyley. Birds. Mrs. Edith Thompson of Sydney, ca. 1920.
Photography courtesy of M. Courtney.

“Sol” lace. Sun center with medallions. C.W.A. Cabramatta, NSW (Australia) ca. 1930s.

Embroidered d’oyleys by Helena Smith (neé Brasil), Sydney (Australia) ca. 1930s.
Photograph courtesy of M. Courtney.

D’oyley with fancy work.
Collection of Lorna Martin, Sydney (Australia) ca. 1930s.
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

D’oyley worked by Mrs. M. A. Foster of Freemantle, WA (Australia), ca. 1930s.
Photograph courtesy of G. Morrissey.

Crochet cotton sandwich d'oyley by Mary Delabeny, Eura, Victoria (Australia) ca. 1930s.
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

Another crochet cotton sandwich d'oyley by Mary Delabeny, Eura, Victoria (Australia) ca. 1930s.
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

"Castor oil plant" d'oyley designed and embroidered by K. Marjorie Warren (neé Hall) ca. 1936. Mrs Warren's designs were manufactured for the Sydney firm Mackower & McBeath and Tootal, Broadhurst & Co., England.

"Poinsettia cake d'oyley", designed by Grace Valentine, published in Australian Womens' Mirror, 1930. Filet crochet by Mary Delabenty, Euroa, Victoria (Australia).
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

[1] J. Isaacs, The Gentle Arts, Ure Smith Press, London (1991).

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Art of Fascinators
Wearable Art

Guest Artist: Flora Fascinata

This blogspot has a number of posts that highlight the artwork of invited artists. For you convenience I have listed them below:

Jennifer Libby Fay
Lesley Turner
Shirley McKernan

Flora Fascinata is a pseudonym of a “creative”, who loves flowers; she also loves her day job of teaching. To be sustainable in the demanding profession like teaching, Flora believes you have to keep doing what drew you to the profession in the first place. For her, this is being a “creative”. Her outlet is fabrics and materials made into beautiful headpieces.

Below is only a vignette of her work. Visit her blogspot - Flora Fascinata’s Frippery - for more of her artwork and musings.

In Australia the 2014 Spring horse racing season begins on 22nd of September through to the 25th of November. The featured race in the Spring Carnival is the Melbourne Cup, which began in 1861 in front of 4000 people, with a horse called Archer winning the race. It was a two mile event, but was shortened in 1972 to 3200 metres. Fascinators are the order of the day. There are few who can create such interesting millinery as Flora. I know you will be enthralled by her wearable art. Some may even be lucky enough to wear a "Flora" at this year's Spring Carnival!

The Art of Fascinators - Flora Fascinata
When The Hat Box (Brisbane Arcade, Queen Street Mall) invited me to exhibit in the Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival (2013) I knew exactly what I wanted to do. A colleague had given me a bunch of the palest pink peonies and those flowers were my pivotal point. The headpiece took me about two months to complete. It is hollow and each petal is dyed, stiffened, heat treated and attached. Keeping the piece lightweight was critical. Another challenge was perfecting the fit when worn. It had to balance securely, with the minimum of support.

Title of Headpiece: Pink Peony for Mercedes Benz Fashion Festival (2013).
Materials: White satin, tulle, foam, fabric stiffener, paint on a satin band.
Size: 35 cm (high) x 30 cm (wide) x 18 cm (deep).

I love making things and in the past have spent many years dressmaking and designing while teaching secondary Home Economics (including Textiles and Foods studies). I cannot resist lace, sequins, tulle, mesh, thermoplastics, silks and satins that meet my aesthetic. Fashioning headwear has proved the perfect way to satisfy this creative desire.

Title of Headpiece: Tulle, Organza and Lace Flower.
Materials: Organza (various tones), lace, tulle, foam, fabric stiffener, thread, satin band.
Size: 20 cm (high) x 20 cm (wide) x 10 cm (deep).

I am not formally trained in millinery, and in the future would like to attend some workshops with Master Milliners. It is on my list to do this year or next. I do not call myself a milliner or an artist. Sadly, I am writing this just one year after the sudden death of Paris Kyne; I dearly would have loved to attend his workshops in Melbourne and was lucky to meet him in Brisbane last year. Paris' outrageous creativity has left me even more inspired. I also look for inspiration from design label Alexander McQueen, and Master Milliners - Richard Nylon and Stephen Jones. I adore their outrageousness and sense of adventure.

Flora meets Paris Kyne at the Hatters Milliners Convention Grand Final Dinner (July 2013).

My response to a making a headpiece is usually producing a flower or sculpting lace. I often show my students bits and pieces of my work, and recently one exasperated sixteen year-old said to me: “Do you only make flowers, can’t you make something different?” Well, frankly, I do make a lot of flowers - and I like it.

Title: Assorted Corsages
Materials: Various fabrics, paint, synthetic and natural dye, fasteners.
Size: varied, approximately 12 cm (wide).

Fashioning frippery and engineering it to sit successfully on the tonsure is not simple. The making of the adornment is one aspect, the blocked base is another. Sometimes a headpiece can take me a couple of weeks to resolve. I have also used surprising materials such as bamboo husks, palm fronds and a bird’s nest.

Title: Palm Frond and Vintage Lace Fleur.
Materials: Lace fabric, vegetable matter, guinea fowl feather trim, paint, natural dye, satin covered band. Size: varied, approximately 60 cm (tall).

The piece including the bird's nest was part of a Show at the Pine River Shire Gallery entitled - Bloomin’ Marvellous - in 2010. I sold the piece and would truly have loved to meet that kindred spirit who bought it. Another favourite was using a piece of hand-woven safflower stamen dyed pure silk that I bought from Korean National Treasure Artist - Ok-Ja Choi. I met Ok-Ja and her fellow Korean National Treasure Artists when they came to Brisbane in 2011 to the Bleeding Heart Gallery in Brisbane City.

Title of Headpiece: Fairy Queen Crown.
Materials: Tulle, lurex, nest, plant material, cardboard packaging, paint, varnish.
Size: 25 cm (high) x 25 cm (wide) x 15 cm (deep).

I love Shakespeare’s play A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I was beyond excited when one day through Youtube I found the snippets of the 1930s film version. This headpiece is the result of my infatuation.

Title of Headpiece: Bamboo Flora.
Materials: Bamboo husks, veiling, feathers, glue, paint and glitter.
Size: 30 cm (high) x 30 cm (wide) x 15 cm (deep).

A few years ago we planted out our backyard with bamboo. While I love it, it does take a lot of maintenance, as those rhizomes can get out of control. I made this eco-inspired piece after I spent a hard morning gardening. I used it in a photo shoot modelled by my friend’s daughter. It really is just a fun piece.

Bamboo Flora and model (2013).

Title of Headpiece: National Treasure: Silk Peony.
Materials: Hand-woven silk by National Treasure Artist: Ok-Ja Choi, safflower stamen dye, satin covered band, thread.
Size: 25 cm (wide) x 10 cm (deep) x 25 cm (high).

I kept this piece of pale pink silk stored carefully in my studio for about a year. I was too scared to cut into it and I could not resolve what to do with it! I also wanted to use every skerrick of this hand-woven and hand-dyed treasure. In the end, I stiffened and sculpted and draped the fabric over plastic to form this lovely shape. I was happy with the result.

Title of headpiece: Thermoplastic Rose Red.
Materials: Vinyl fabric, foam, glue, spray paint, varnish, satin covered band.
Size: 35 cm (high) x 35 cm (wide) x 20 cm (deep).

Most of my work is worn at Race meetings. I had not been to the Races for a number of years. This year I went to the Stradbroke Cup Day at Eagle Farm races. When I found out the dress code was red, black and white. I knew I had to make something out of red vinyl.

Title of headpiece: Red Camellia. Materials: Velveteen, foam, thread, satin covered band.
Size: 30 cm (high) x 30 cm (wide) x 15 cm (deep).
Who does not love napped fabrics? I cannot resist velveteen. When I saw this particular red shade I knew it would make a beautiful flower. A camellia was it. It was a successful outcome.

Flora Fascinata is a trained teacher with a B.Ed.(Secondary) Home Economics, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Flora works in the textile medium with a focus on dyeing fabrics and sculpting flowers for headpieces and corsages. She has exhibited once in a group exhibition in Brisbane (Pine River Shire Art Gallery) and has taught numerous workshops and loves her day job teaching Home Economics in public education. Flora is married to Mr Fascinata, who whole-heartedly supports her frippery.

Her work is available through The Hat Box in the Brisbane Arcade, Queen Street Mall, Brisbane City.
For further information don’t hesitate to email: Flora

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Four Seasons - My Haiku Prints
Prints on Paper

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This blogspot is not only devoted to ArtCloth and all things fabric (e.g. wearables) but also to limited edition prints on paper and artists' printmakers books. I have listed below for your convenience my contribution to this artistic genre.

Made to Order
Unique State (Partners in Print)
Wangi's Djiran:"Unique State" Prints
Veiled Curtains
A Letter to a Friend
Beyond the Fear of Freedom
Travelling Solander Project
Star Series
Cry for the Wilderness
Federation on Hold - Call Waiting
Wish You Were Where?

During the Heian period of Japanese culture (700-1100 AD), it was a socially acceptable to instantly recognize, appreciate and recite Japanese and Chinese poetry. It was around this period that short forms of poetry (tanka) grew more popular than the longer forms of poetry (choka). Every poem had to have a specific structural form. The approved form was the 5-7-5 triplet followed by a couplet of seven syllables - this was the Japanese equivalent to the iambic pentameter of Shakespeare's England.

Artist Marie-Therese Wisniowski: Autumn Haiku (see below for more details).

From this form developed the renga (linked verse) and the kusari-no-renga (chains of linked verse). These forms were used almost as parlor games for the elite. However, in the mid-sixteenth century there began a rise in "peasant" poetry. It was then that Japanese poetry underwent a rebirth in which the staid forms of the past were replaced with a lighter, airier tone. This new form was called haikai and was later named renku.

Haikai consisted of a beginning triplet called a hokku. The hokku was considered the most important part of the poem. It had two principal requirements: a seasonal word (kireji) and a "cutting word" or exclamation. For example, Chiyo (1703-75) the haiku poetess of Kaga wrote:

Hototogisu............Hearing a cuckoo cry,
Hototogisu tote,....All night long,
Akenikeri!..............Dawn at last!

Chiyo - front cover of Patricia Donegan’s book.

Of all the forms of poetry, haiku perhaps is the most demanding of the reader. It demands the reader's participation because haiku merely suggests something in the hope that the reader will find "a glimpse of hitherto unrecognized depths in the self." Without a sensitive and knowledgeable audience, haiku becomes unfathomable.

The poet Basho infused a new sensibility and sensitivity to this form in the late seventeenth century. He transformed the poetics and turned the hokku into an independent poem, later to be known as haiku.

Basho Painting Bamboo - Artist: Sugiyama Sanpu (1647 - 1732).

Basho's work focused around the concept of karumi (a feeling of lightness) - so much so that he abandoned the traditional syllabic limitations to achieve it. For example,

Furu ike ya!...............The old pond, ah!
Kawazu tobikomu,.....A frog jumps in:
Mizu no oto...............The water’s sound!

Thus a haiku is an expression of instantaneous enlightenment – a flash of insightfulness – in which the reality of life is reveal. Basho achieved this in just seventeen syllables!

To give further flesh to the power of his haiku let us explore another one of his poems. When Basho was travelling on the narrow road of Oku, he happened to meet two prostitutes on their way to the Ise Shrine, and they all stayed in the same inn. After listening to their tale of wretched life, which they abhorred, Basho wrote:

Hitotsu ya ni...............Under one roof,
Yujo mo netari............Prostitutes, too, were sleeping;
Hagi to tsuki...............The hagi flowers and the moon.

Note: hagi is a bush clover that blooms in early autumn and is very much liked by the Japanese people.

Miyagino hagi.

To interpret the full significance of this haiku, one must turn to the Japanese Zen scholar - Daisetz Suzuki[1]. His take on the poem is that Basho has accepted the reality of the situation (prostitutes and himself under the one roof) but treats them not as the fallen specimens of humanity, but rather he has raised them as poetic equals to the bush clover (the latter is associated with unpretentious beauty) while the moon impartially illuminates good and bad, comely and ugly. There is no conceptualization here, but this haiku reveals the mystery of "being" and of "becoming". Without being immersed in the Zen culture of Japan, this poem’s meaning would be difficult to extract.

The Four Seasons - My Haiku Prints
To construct my haiku prints I have centered on the haiku poem requirement to contain a kilo (season word) that symbolises or intimates the season in which the poem is set. For example, in my Autumn haiku poem I pen - "Autumn rustles" - it is the word "rustles" that is the "season" word for this haiku. Note: my haiku poems do not follow the 5-7-5 syllable count.

To give a consistency to my voice I have created each print within the following constraints:
Subject: A maple-like leaf charts a destiny within each of the four seasons. For each season I have written a haiku, which although is not structurally perfect, represents my sense and sensibly of that season.
Techniques: Stenciled, mono texture prints and collage effects on acetate film employing pigments and papers. Final works printed as archival inkjet prints.
Stock: White Stonehenge and inkjet paper stock.
Size: 13cm (width) x 19cm (height).
Edition: Three prints per paper stock.

I have written a haiku poem for each print. The structure of the poems is similar in that: (i) the first line contains a sensory feel associated with each season; (ii) the second line - the particular effect of the season on leaves; (iii) and the last line - a general observation of the effect of the season on life.

Autumn Haiku

Autumn rustles,
Leaves are grounded.
Blankets harbouring life - formed!

Title: Autumn Haiku.

Winter Haiku

Winter pierces,
Leaves are mourned.
Life wanes - life forlorned!

Title: Winter Haiku.

Spring Haiku

Spring sprouts,
Leaves are formed.
Life whooshes - crannies and voids transformed!

Title: Spring Haiku.

Summer Haiku

Summer sears,
Leaves are sapped.
Life seeks - shade and darkness lapped!

Title: Summer Haiku.

[1] D. Suzuki, Zen and Japanese Culture, Charles E. Tuttle Company Inc., Tokyo (1988).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester[1-2]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the thirty-first 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!

The polyester fiber was developed in England. Its trade name was Trylene. Du Pont bought the patent rights, did further research and in 1951 produced the first polyester in the USA (which was named Dacron). By 1960 Fortrel had been introduced by the Celanese Corporation and Vycron by the Beaunit Mill Company. Later Tennesse Eastman marketed Kodel. Avlin and Trevira are among others of the polyesters - the fastest growing fiber group.

The word ester is the name given to salts formed from a reaction between an alcohol and an acid. In chemistry an ester is designated the chemical formula of RCOOR’, where the R represents a large array of possible chemical groups and "C" and "O" represents carbon and oxygen, respectively. Esters are therefore organic salts and polyesters mean “many” organic salts. Polyesters are man-made, synthetic polymer, polyester filament or staple fiber. The most common polyester apparel filament or staple fiber is usually composed of terephythalate polymers.

Recycled Polyester.

As with other man-made fibers, the manufacture is a complex chemical process involving many steps. The final step involves forcing a semi-liquid through a spinneret in order to form the filament.

Complex chemical process in order to produce polyester filaments.

Like nylon, there are many types of polyesters, each serving a specific purpose. Polyester fibers are made in staple and filament forms and also as a film called Mylar. This plastic film is used for making "metallic" yarns.

General Properties of Polyesters
Polyester fiber density is 1.39 g cm-3, which makes these fibers relatively medium weight. To circumvent this, polyesters are manufactured as “thin” fabrics, thereby making them more lightweight.

The polyester filaments or staple fibers are fine, regular and translucent. Both filament and staple fibers are usually crimped or textured for the same reason as outlined for viscose (see an earlier post).

The diameter of polyester fibers ranges from about 12 to 25 microns, depending on the end-use requirements. The fiber length to breadth ratio is usually in excess of 2000:1. This ensures that even the shortest staple fibers will satisfactorily spin into yarn.

The main component of the acrylic polymer is the ethylene glycol terephthalate repeat unit.

A section of the polyester polymer.
Note: The oxygen atom (O) of the carbonyl group (CO) gives rise to weak hydrogen bonding with the hydrogen atoms (H) of the methylene (CH2) group.

The polymer is linear and is usually based on the polyethylene terephthalate repeat unit. The polymer lengths are about 120 to 150 nm, with a thickness of about 0.6 nm.

Microscopic photograph of surface and cross-section of Dacron polyester.

The most important chemical groups in the polyester polymer are the methylene groups (-CH2-), the slightly polar carbonyl groups (-CO-) and the ester groups (-OCO-). As the polarity of the polyester polymer is slight it is considered to be held together mainly by van der Waals forces of attraction and to a lesser extent by some very weak hydrogen bonds.

Macro Polymer Structure
The polymer system is estimated to be about 65-85% crystalline and 35-15% amorphous, thereby it can be described as very crystalline. This is consistent with the hydrophobic nature, poor dyeing ability, but good overall chemical resistance.

Very weak hydrogen bonding is thought to occur between the oxygen atom of the CO group, and with the hydrogen atoms of the adjacent CH2 groups (see above). However, van der Waals forces of attraction are considered to be the dominant cohesive mechanism of this polymer system. For both these forces to be efficient and effective, excellent polymer orientation is required (which occurs since it is crystalline) and moreover, the inter polymer-polymer distances should be within 0.3nm (which is thought to be the case in the polyester polymer system).

Physical Properties
Polyester filaments and staple fibers are strong to very strong, because of their extremely crystalline natures, allowing the formation of effective and efficient van der Waals forces of attraction as well as promoting weak hydrogen bond formation. Both of these characteristics result in a very good tenacity. The tenacity of the polyester filament or staple fibers remains unaltered when wet, which is attributed to their hydrophobic and crystalline natures, both of which act in concert to prevent much water uptake into the voids of the polyester polymer system.

Elastic-Plastic Nature
The stiffness and hard handle of polyester filaments or staple fibers is due to the their extremely crystalline nature, which resists bending or flexing of the filament or staple fiber. This also explains their resistance to wrinkling or creasing.

Polyester filaments or staple fibers are about as plastic as they are elastic – as is observed on distortion by repeated stretching and straining. This is because weak van der Waals forces of attraction, which are responsible for the polyester polymer system cohesion, cannot withstand stretching or straining and so are severed, thus allowing polymer slippage to occur. The weak hydrogen bonds are also readily broken and are unable to prevent polymer slippage.

The distinctly waxy handle of polyester textile materials is due to the presence of methylene (CH2) and phenyl (C6H5) groups in the polyester polymer system.

Hygroscopic Nature
Polyester filaments or staple fibers are hydrophobic. The lack of polarity and the extremely crystalline structure resist entry of water molecules in this textile material. The insignificant amount of moisture can only exist as a molecular film on the surface of the filaments or staple fibers.

The lack of water uptake of the polyester polymer system results in the lack of dissipation of static electricity build up in dry atmospheric conditions.

The hydrophobic nature of the polyester polymer system attracts fats, grease, oils and greasy dirt. In other words, the polyester polymer system is oleophilic (oil loving). The water insolubility of greasy soils and the hydrophobic nature make it almost impossible to remove greasy soils from dirty polyester textile materials. This is further complicated by the fact that the polyester polymer system easily develops static electricity, which further attracts airborne dust and grease particles, leading to rapid soiling of polyester fabrics. It is only via the use of organic solvents, as used in dry cleaning processes, that greasy soils can be effectively removed from polyester fabrics.

Thermal Properties
The degree of polymerization ranges from about 115 to 140 for the polyester polymer system, which indicates they have small length polymers (when compared to cotton, with a ratio of 5000). In any polymer unit, there are 3N-6 degrees of vibrational freedom, where N is the number of atoms in the polymer chain. Applied heat to the polymer system causes the polymer units to vibrate. As the modes of vibration is restricted by the length of the polyester polymer chain, it cannot dissipate the heat within the polymer chain and so violent vibrations of the polymers sever more van der Waals forces than cause the creation of “new” links. Hence, polyester polymer systems show poor heat conductivity and have a low heat resistance.

Polyester textile materials can be permanently heat set. Textile fibers classed as thermoplastic are acetate, triacetate, nylon and polyester. Polyesters retain a heat set permanently, whereas the acetate fibers do not hold a heat set as satisfactorily.

The extent to which a thermoplastic fiber will retain its heat set will depend entirely on its second order transition temperature.

A first order transition temperature would be the temperature at which you convert a liquid, such as water, into a gas, such as steam. A second order transition temperature would be the temperature at which say a stiff garden hose made from rubber becomes softer, more limp and more manageable. In terms of thermoplasticity, the second order transition temperature would then be defined as the temperature at which fibers will retain their heat set. If fibers have a low in magnitude second order transition temperature, then on applying a small amount of heat the textile material will be set, but by applying a greater amount of heat from an iron at a later date, the textile material that was set, will relax and so the set will only be temporary. However, if the second order transition temperature is large in magnitude for it to be set, then not even the heat from the hottest iron at a later date can reach this temperature and so the heat set of the textile material will be permanent.

A complication is that the second transition temperature of a textile material cannot be measured absolutely. However, it can be measured in a relative sense and so thermoplastic fibers can be ranked according to their relative second order transition temperature. Hence of the four fibers listed above, polyester is ranked one (highest second order transition temperature) and acetate the lowest (smallest second order transition temperature).

Chemical Properties
Effect of Acids
The ester groups of the polyester polymers are resistant to acid hydrolysis, as are the other chemical groups of the fiber system. This resistance is further complemented by the extreme crystallinity of the polyester polymer system, which prevents entry of any acid or water molecules into the filament or the staple fiber.

Effect of Alkalis
Alkaline conditions (such as encountered in laundering) may hydrolyze the polyester polymers at the ester groups. The extreme crystalline nature restricts the hydrolysis (or saponification) to the surface of the polyester filament or staple fibers.

As the hydrolysis of polyesters is restricted to the surface, polyester textile materials retain their whiteness during laundering. The surface polymers of the polyester filaments or staple fibers are hydrolyzed as shown in the figure below.

With time, the polyester textile material will become fiber and silkier with regular laundering and continued hydrolysis.

Effect of Bleaches
Normally polyester textile materials do not need to be bleached. As explained above, white polyester tends to retain its whiteness during normal domestic laundering. If bleaching is desired it is normally achieved using sodium chlorite.

Sunlight and Weather Resistance
The acid resistance of polyesters helps to protect polyester textile materials from slightly acidic conditions arising because of polluted atmospheres. The benzene rings of the polyester polymer provide electronic stability to the whole polymer, enabling the polymers to withstand the detrimental effects of UV light. This explains why polyester textile materials are only second to acrylics in terms of very good sunlight and weather resistance.

It is very difficult for dye molecules to penetrate the extremely crystalline regions of the fiber, which constitutes the majority of the polyester polymer system. Furthermore, the hydrophobic nature prevents water molecules entering the amorphous regions. Only the relatively small molecules of disperse dyes can enter both regions: that is, the crystalline and amorphous regions.

Disperse Dyes
The hydrophobic nature of disperse dye molecules makes them substantive with respect to the polyester polymer system. Only pastel-colored polyester textile materials are obtained under conventional dyeing techniques, even with the dye liquor at the boil. The limited dye uptake, which occurs using conventional techniques is illustrated in the figure below, which shows the cross-section of such dyed polyester filaments or staple fibers. To obtain deeper shades, pressure dyeing is necessary. Under conditions of about 130oC to 140oC and pressures of 1 to 1.5, medium and even deep shades can be obtained on polyesters.

Cross-Section of a polyester fiber showing dyeing under atmospheric pressure.

Pressure dyeing opens up the voids in the polyester polymer, enabling the dye molecules to penetrate, and so generating greater dye uptake. When the pressure is removed, these voids get smaller in size, thereby trapping the dye molecules within the crystalline and amorphous regions of the polyester polymer system.

The fair to good wash-fastness of the disperse dyed and printed polyester textile materials is due to their hydrophobic nature, the insolubility of the dyed molecules with respect to water and because of the extreme crystalline nature of the polyester polymer system.

The fair to good light-fastness of disperse dyed and printed polyester textile materials is due to the electronic stability of the benzene ring system in the polyester polymer system to withstand detrimental effects due to UV light.

Marie-Therese Wisniowski, Autumn Bolt (disperse dyed polyester artwork).

[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).