Saturday, July 28, 2018

Crewel Work or Old English Crewel Embroidery
Works on Cloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction [1-2]
Crewel embroidery conjures up images of rich, free-flowing designs, often incorporating flowers, leaves and fruit. Its distinguishing characteristic is the worsted woolen yarn used.

Crewel threads.

The word "crewel" is believed tp have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon cleow (later clew and cruel) meaning a ball of thread.

Crewel work was especially popular during the 17th Century in England and the 18th Century in America, although far earlier examples still exist, notably the 11th Century Bayeux Tapestry.

Bayeux Tapestry.

An important influence on the development of crewel work was the growth of trade with the orient during the 17th Century, when needle work women were inspired by the beautiful Indian and Chinese embroideries. The "tree of life" designs that became a traditional feature of crewel work were introduced to England from India during this time.

Tracing pattern for family tree.

In both England and America, bed curtains, covers and cushions were the most common items chosen for this form of decoration. Crewel embroidery can still be applied successfully to such items as well as to pictures and wall hangings.

An early 18th-Century example of English crewel work seen in this detail from a bed hanging.

Cover for a stool by Mourna Sturrock, Melbourne (Australia) 1980s.
Photograph courtesy of J. Millowick.

Crewel work is sometimes known as Stuart or Jacobean work.

Basic Materials

Even weave linen or linen twill are the traditional fabrics for crewel work, but any firmly woven cloth is suitable, such as heavy cotton, with threads that can be separated from a needle.

Choose the yarn to suit the fabric and to achieve the texture required. Crewel yarn itself is quite fine, but several strands can be used together for bolder stitches on fine to medium fabrics. Tapestry yarn can also be used to similar effect. For coarse fabrics, use rug or knitting yarn.

Use a crewel or chenille needle that will make an opening in the fabric just large enough for the thread to pass through without breaking the fabric weave. Tapestry needles are useful for stitches woven on the surface of the fabric.

Most of the stitches used in embroidery are suitable for crewel work and it is very satisfying to develop the skill of choosing the right stitches for different motifs. An embroidery frame, though not necessary for all stitches, is essential for some such as crouching.

Some stitches used in crewel work.

Jacobean or Trellis
This filling stitch is traditionally used for the centres of flowers or for shapes where an open lattice effect is required. Take long, evenly spaced stitches across the space horizontally and vertically or diagonally and secure with one stitch (shown) or a cross stitch at each intersection.

Jacobean Couching or Trellis.

Some Crewel Creations

Screen of Crewel Embroidery by Sarah Squire Todd.
Hobart (Australia) ca. 1920.
Collection Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
Photograph courtesy of L. Zeeng.

A quiet moment of a young Geisha woman quietly arranging flowers is forever captured for the crewel embroidery artist in Pat Zitomer’s "Oriental Arranging Flowers".

Crewel Work Artist unidentified New England, probably Massachusetts.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian.

Petticoat border American (New England) 1758.
Accession Number 40.571 Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

Crewel Embroidery (England), 18th Century.

Beautiful Jacobean Crewel Embroidery using Gold Metallic Thread.
Victoria and Albert Museum.

17th Century Crewel Embroidery: Lemons.
Victoria and Albert Museum.

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

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

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Shishu (Japanese Embroidery) [1]
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Embroidery is an ancient form of decoration that was introduced to Japan in the sixth century. A Chinese embroiderer was brought to Japan by Kibi no Makabi, a Buddhist priest, on his return from China. That Chinese craftsman became the first nuimonoshi - a person who embroiders textiles in many colored threads. At the beginning, embroidery was used to apply additional decoration to the woven and dyed cloth, but later embroidered design was used as an alternative for achieving the same effect as brocade, and was considered very valuable.

Embroidered Shakyamuni preaching to the disciples surrounding him.
Tang Dynasty (618 - 907), China.
National Treasure [1].
Courtesy of Tokyo National Museum.

Shishu (Japanese Embroidery)[1]
The oldest embroidered cloth in Japan, Tenjukoku Mandala (Heavenly Paradise Mandala), in Chuguji temple at Nara, is a silk ra executed during the first part of the seventh century. Only a small piece of the original embroidered silk remains intact. It is in the form of Chinese characters stitched in parallel lines of twisted silk thread on the backs of two tortoises.

As early as the Jōmon period (14,000 – 300 BC) people used fishbone needles for simple stitchery. By the seventh, creative stitching decorated ceremonial robes for the emperor and nobility. However most of the early embroideries were used for Buddhist banners, sewn by friends and relatives of the deceased for the purpose of helping them along their way to heaven.

Artist Unknown: Ladies-in waiting. Year 622.
Medium: Silk thread on gauze and twill.
Subject Tenjukoku 天寿国, "The Land of Infinite Life".
Dimensions: 89 cm × 83 cm (35 in × 33 in).
Designation: National Treasure of Japan.
Location: Nara National Museum, Nara.

During the Muromachi Period (1336 - 1573), embroidery was used as a substitute for expensive brocades. This versatile form of fabric decoration appeared on kosode and Noh costumes, which glittered with nuihaku (the combination of embroidery and imprinted gold or silver leaf). The softer silks of the Momoyama period (1568 – 1600) were embellished with stitchery, using untwisted silk and gold or silver thread to create small, simple designs.

Back of kosode (short-sleeved kimono) with alternating blocks of flowers and plants in embroidery and gold leaf. Momoyama Period (1568 – 1600).

By the end of this affluent era, embroidery had reached its height. Under the patronage of Toyotomi Hidewyoshi, fabulous Noh costumes and kimono entirely covered with embroidered designs were created.

In the isolation of the Edo period (1603 - 1868) embroidered motifs became more Japanese in style and the popularity of this decoration increased. Embroidery was in such high demand that one shogun ordered thirty-two elaborate embroidered kimono's over a period of sixteen years.

Gorgeous embroidery work on a black rinzu kosode with motifs of pine, bamboo. chrysanthemums, rippling water, snowy herrons and baskets in rich colors. Family crest is done by gold couching.
Edo period (1603 - 1868).
Courtesy of the Tokyo National Museum.

With a thinner thread careful couching is done over the silver or gold thread [1].

Embroidered forewomen's headgear with gold thread couching.
Edo period (1603 - 1868).
Courtesy of the Tokyo National Museum.

The popularity of this decorative form soon declined, because of its extravagance, and moreover, the simpler and less expensive method of appliqué emerged.

Magnificant Noh costume embroidered all over with exceptionally dainty autumn-flower motifs on a black background.
Courtesy of Eisei Bunko collection [1].

Flying birds, weepy cherry tree in bloom, and ocean wave on an obi by Shizuka Kusano.

Roundels of plum, chrysanthemum, pine, maple, peony, bamboo and bellflower in a basket pattern by Mitsuko Kashimura [1].

Lower part of a kimono embroidered in motifs of pretty flowers, grass, and shippo tsunagi (interlocking rings) in bright colors by Shizuka Kusano.

Japanese embroidery employs several stitches, some of which are: French knot (sagaranumi, dating from the Nara period (710 to 794 AD); the outline satin stitch (nuikiri); back-stitch outline (matsuinui); satin stitch (warinui); and long couched stitches (watashinui). The gold or silver thread used for couching is made by wrapping silk thread with gold and silver covered paper. This thread is applied to the fabric by stitching it down with a very thin filament. Couching is used to highlight dyed kimono and to apply the family crest (kamon) used on the outer garments for family identification.

For obi embroidered with different techniques by Hyakutei Hashio. The flowers appeared as if they have been dyed rather than stitched[1].

[1] S. Yang, and R.M. Narasin, Textile Art of Japan, Shufunotomo, Tokyo (1989).

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Abstract and Floral Designs of E.A.Seguy - Part II
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

For your convenience I have listed the other posts in the series:
Abstract and Floral Designs of E.A.Seguy - Part I
Abstract and Floral Designs of E.A.Seguy - Part III

It is no mere accident that the exuberant period of art and social life in the latter part of the nineteenth century, which is known as belle époque, the most fanciful and extravagant expression of the style of fin-de-siécle, Art Nouveau, and Art Déco, all share a French origin. Whilst other English, European or American cities were recognized at different points in time as centers of excellence in various arts, there can be little doubt that from the middle years of the nineteenth century the entire civilized world regarded Paris as the center of the world for art and looked to it as a lead in fashion, painting and music, but also in dress as well as to some degree in manners and mores. So strong was the hold of Parisian ideals in areas such as couture, that in the London of the nineteenth century and well into the inter-war period, fashion houses, dressmakers, hairdressers, corset makers and even some of the smaller emergent decorators, found it expedient for their continued existence to maintain intimate connection with the oracles of taste in the French capital.

The great "Exposition de Arts décoratifs" which was staged in Paris in 1925 highlighted the very best work being carried out in France. All the great French names in decorative arts and in furnishing and interior decoration, as well as jewlery design, ceramics and the manufacture of fine textiles, were represented.

In France there had been a long and distinguished tradition of finely printed folios of designs for various decorative purposes issued by artists and designers. It is clear that a number of designers, who had been producing such volumes were stimulated by the show in 1925 to create decorative plates of the very highest quality in popular Art Nouveau and Art Déco style. The celebrated designer E.A. Seguy was such a person. Seguy's career in the production of grand design books was a long and distinguished one. As early as 1901-3 he had produced a series of sixty plates.

E A (Eugene Alain) Seguy (1889-1985), who was a designer working in France at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Seguy's style incorporated elements of both the Art Nouveau and Art Déco movements.

On looking through plates of Seguy's books one realizes immediately the extent to which the individual patterns and motifs could be applied with equal facility and success, not only to fabrics for both dress and furnishings, but to wallpapers, carpets and all kinds of other surfaces. I hope you enjoy his work.

Abstract and Floral Designs of E.A.Seguy - Part II
The following designs are a selection drawn from the publication Suggestions pour Etoffes et Tapis. Plates 8 and 9 are reminiscent of English wallpapers of the "Aesthetic" movement and recall in particular the work of the accomplished, but still relatively little-known designer Battely.

From Plate 7.

From plate 7.

From plate 7.

From plate 7.

From plate 8.

From plate 8.

From plate 8.

From plate 9.

From plate 9.

[1] S. Calloway, Abstract and Floral Designs - E.A. Seguy, Bracken Books, London (1988).

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Finishes - Overview
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the seventy-eight 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!

Finishes - Overview
A "finish" is defined as anything that is done to fiber, yarn or fabric either before or after weaving or knitting to change the appearance (what you see), the hand or handle (what you feel) and the performance of the fabric (what the fabric does).

Women's Dress Drill. Mercerized cotton beach skirt.

Fabrics have always been finished. Early finishes were restricted due to the lack of technology and so was done to improve the appearance and hand of the fabric only. Natural dyes applied by laborious hand processes were used to color the fabrics. To make sleazy fabric into scalable merchandise, china clay and starch were added to fill up the spaces between the yarns. Various mechanical finishes were applied to make fabrics smoother, more lustrous, and better looking. These finishes were temporary and were lost during the first washing. Two important durable finishes which have been used for over 100 years are mercerization and tin weighting of silk. The use of mercerization has increased while weighting of silk has almost ceased.

Late afternoon dress by Jean-Philippe Worth, France, Paris, ca. 1905. Silk satin weighted with tin salts, gilded net - Royal Ontario Museum.

The arts and techniques of finishing have developed to the extent that the finish is as important and in some cases more important than the fiber content. The properties of a fiber can be so completely changed by a finish that the finished product bears little resemblance to the original.

The consumer needs to recognize visible finishes and to recognize the need for nonviable finishes. The consumer needs to know how good the finish is in terms of serviceability. A permanent or durable finish lasts the life of the garment. Durable also refers to a finish that lasts longer than a temporary finish but that may be unsatisfactory in appearance while still present in the fabric. A temporary finish lasts until the garment is washed or dry cleaned. A renewable finish can be applied by the homemaker with no special equipment or it may be applied by the dry cleaner.

Starburst sweater dress with a durable finish.

Finishing may be done in the mill where the fabric is constructed or it may be done in a separate establishment by a highly specialise group called converters. Most mills, especially cotton weaving mills, are not equiped to do finishing. Converters operate in two ways: they perform a service for a mill by finishing goods to order, in which case they are paid for their services and never own the fabric; or they buy the fabric from a mill, finish it according to their own needs, and sell it to the cutting trade or as yards goods under their own trade name.

Wash and Wear denim mini skirt.

All fabric finishing adds to the cost of the fabric. Since it is relatively easy to prepare man-made fiber fabrics for finishing, these plants have lower costs. When a finish is new and in demand, the converter can realize a greater profit, for example, the wash-and-wear finish.

New evening dress with net finish & laser embroidery.

Many factory finishing processes are similar to operations done in the home. Finishing involves removing the size and oils, bleaching, relaxing tension in the fabric, slitting tubular knits and straightening wefts. It also involves all the after-treatments, which modify the properties of the textile and fabrics: all processes which alter the appearance and performance of the fabric.

Grey Goods
Grey goods - alternatively gray, grieve or loom state - are fabrics, regardless pf color, which have been woven on a loom and have received no wet or dry finishing operations. Some grey goods fabrics have names, such as print cloth, soft-filled sheeting, and so forth, which are used only for the grey goods. Other grey goods names such as lawn, broadcloth and sateen, are also used for the finished cloth.

Sateen mini skirt.

Mill-Finished Fabrics
Mill-finished fabrics can be sold and used without converting, although they may be sized or Sanforized before they are sold.

Check China Mill-finished fabric.

Converted or Finished Goods
Converted or finished goods have received wet or dry finishing treatments such as bleaching, dyeing or embossing. Some converted goods retain the grey goods name. Others, such as madras or gingham, are named for the place of origin; and still others, such as silence cloth, are named for their end use. The figure below depicts some of the fabrics that can be converted from a single grey goods.

Fabrics converted from grey-goods print cloth. Top: left, print cloth; right, china. Middle: left, percale; right embossed cotton. Bottom: plissé.

Patchwork Madras mini skirt.

All grey goods must be cleaned and made ready for the acceptance of the finish. Grey goods contain a warp sizing, which makes the fabric stiff and interferes with the absorption of liquids. This sizing must be removed before further finishing can be done. Also, fabrics are often soiled during weaving and must be cleaned for that reason.

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