Saturday, March 30, 2019

Art Quilts - Part IV
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Art Quilts have featured on this blogspot and so for your convenience I have listed below previous posts.
Art Quilts - Part I
Art Quilts - Part II
Art Quilts - Part III

Introduction [1]
Quilts have been created throughout the course of history. However, the involvement of academically trained artists with the medium is relatively a new phenomenon.

What is now generally called an "art quilt" had its origins in the tumultuous social and cultural changes of the 1960s and 1970s. During these years, quilts and other hand-made crafts, which had been overshadowed by machine-made products, were rediscovered by a much younger generation eager to find meaning outside of the industrial revolution and so co-operatives, hippie and commune living became all the rage. It was important to rediscover folk activities such as the making of quilts.

Hippie Quilt of the 1960s (artist unknown).

Artistic endeavours were all the rage in the 60s and 70s since science created weapons, whereas art created inspiration. Pop artists like Claes Oldenburg and Robert Rauschenberg broke barriers against the use of fabrics in their work. Rauschenberg's "Bed" even used a quilt as a canvas.

Feminist historians began to reveal and examine the unique stories that quilts could tell about the women who had made them, and sharp-eye collectors, artists and critics drew visual connections between modern art and powerful abstract designs created by American women.

In 1971 the Witney Museum of American Art's seminal exhibition "Abstract Design in American Quilts" introduced to a national audience that quilts were an art form. Hilton Kramer summed up the exhibition's revolutionary thesis: "For a century or more preceding the self-conscious invention of pictorial abstraction in European painting, the anonymous quilt-makers of the American provinces created a remarkable succession of visual masterpieces that anticipated many of the forms that were later prized for their originality and courage."

Whitney Museum of American Art from above at night.

Art Quilts - Part IV[1]

Title: The Writing's on the Wall.
Artist: Jeanne Lyons Butler.
Materials and Techniques: Commercial and hand-dyed cotton, silk, and synthetic fabrics; machine pieced and quilted.
Size: 56 x 60 inches.

Title: Women/Men, Chapter 1.
Artist: Petra Soesemann.
Materials and Techniques: Natural and synthetic fabrics; direct hand and machine appliqué by fusing, hand quilted.
Size: 75 x 76 inches.

Title: Circular Thinking.
Artist: Melissa Holzinger.
Materials and Techniques: Canvas that has been painted, drawn, and airbrushed with acrylic, pastels, and ink; layered, fused, and machine quilted, mounted and framed.
Size: 32 x 40 inches.

Title: Peculiary Pottery 4.
Artist: Dominie Nash.
Materials and Techniques: Cotton and silk fabrics treated with fiber reactive dyes, screen printing with textile paint and fabric crayon; machine appliquéd and machine quilted.
Size: 43 x 43 inches.

Title: Curse.
Artist: Stephanie Randall Cooper.
Materials and Techniques: Cotton, rayon, polyester, silk and blended fabrics hand embellished with acrylic paint; cut-and-paste construction, machine quilted.
Size: 58 x 47 inches.

Title: Indian Orange Peel.
Artist: Karen K. Stone.
Materials and Techniques: Cotton fabrics, mostly homespun, batiks, and reproduction fabrics; machine quilted with rayons thread.
Size: 63 x 63 inches.

Title: Remains of the Day.
Artist: Karen Perrine.
Materials and Techniques: Cotton, sateen, and nylon tulle treated with Procion dye, fabric pigments and felt marker, cotton and metallic threads; hand painted and airbrushed, hand appliquéd, hand and machine quilted.
Size: 44 x 43 inches.

Title: Catherine Wheel.
Artist: Anne Smith.
Materials and Techniques: Cotton blends and recycled fabrics; machine pieced and appliquéd, hand quilted.
Size: 52 x 53 inches.

[1] Art Quilts A Celebration, Editors N. Mornu, D. Cusick and K.D. Aimone, Lark Books, New York (2005) ISBN 13: 978-1-57990-711-2.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Ancient Egyptian Dress - Part II [1]
Wearable Art

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

There is another post in this series and for your convenience I have listed it below.
Ancient Egyptian Dress - Part I

The ancient Egyptians were descended from the Ethiopians. Hence all human figures in the coloured hieroglyphics display a darkened complexion. Every Egyptian depicted in statues and monuments display spreading toes, splay feet, bow-bent shins, high meagre calves, long swinging arms, sharp shoulders, square flat hands, skinny lips, depressed nose, high cheek bones and large unheeded ears.

Mycerinus and his Queen (4th Dynasty, Old Kingdom, ca. 2500 BC).

The male Egyptians generally shaved their heads and beards close to their skin. However, if hair was evident it was uniformly of a wooly texture. Also the lower classes wore little clothing. Many male figures display no other garment than a short apron or a piece of stuff, fastened around the waist by a belt and descending half way down the thighs; and in many representations of the personages of both sexes, the whole upper part of the body appears entirely bare or only adorned with a profusion of necklaces, belts, armlets and bracelets.

Panel of Desire, Saqqara (ca. 2750). Note: The apron appears thin in constitution.

For the upper classes of the society it was not unusual to wear a tunic that reached all the way from the neck to the feet.

King Smenkhare and Meritaten (?), Tel-el-Amana (ca. 1360). Painted limestone relief.
Note: The length of her garment.

The bibles or papers plant provided the material for some of the shorter and tighter coverings. The ampler dresses were in general made of flax; more rarely of cotton; and never of silk until after the Roman conquest. Fabrics were richly dyed in greens, yellows, reds and blues.

Hippopotamus Hunt of Ti (ca. 2400 BC).

The Egyptians adorned their heads with a variety of caps, sometimes rising to a great height above their heads and other times descending very low on the chest, in the shape of lappets. Those of the priest and of their attendants are often loaded with a profusion of symbolic decorations, composed of feathers, lotus leaves and other natural decorations; and in some of the head-dresses of Isis and of her followers disks and horns can easily be recognized as well as the orb and phases of the moon.

Akhenaton from the Temple of Aton, Karnak, 18th Dynasty, Amarna Period.
Note: The height of the head-dress.

Queen Hatshepsut, from the Mortuary Temple at Deir el Bahari (ca. 1450 BC). New Kingdom, 18th dynasty.
Note: The head-dress which descends very low on the chest in the shape of lappets.

In religious processions it was common to wear masks that encompassed the whole head and neck down to the shoulders. These represented the head and bust of various sacred animals, such as the ibis, the hawk, the bull, the dog and the ram etc.

Now Anubis lays me down to sleep.

Numerous rows of rich beads were worn by both sexes around the neck; a belt encircled the body immediately under the paps of the breast, and another confined the small of the waist. Gorgeously worked straps crossed the shoulders and met or supported these zones.

University of Manchester researchers say in the journal - Meteoritics and Planetary Science - that ancient Egyptians used meteorites to make accessories. In 1911, archaeologists dug up strings of iron beads at the Gerzeh cemetery, about 43 miles south of Cairo. The Gerzeh bead is the earliest discovered use of iron by the Egyptians, dating back from 3350 to 3600 BC. The bead was originally thought to be from a meteorite based on its composition of nickel-rich iron.

Armlets, manacles and rings around the ankles were common. The kings wore long staffs or sceptres and the priests carried wands, decorated with the heads of birds and various insignia.

Ancient Egyptian anklet.

In later times the Egyptian garments were influenced by the Greeks and Romans. The statues of Isis and of her priestesses found in Italy, indicate that under Roman domination, Egyptian women not only wore ample tunics, falling in easy folds like those of their neighbours but cast over these a veil or mantle, of which the ends drawn from behind the back over the shoulders across the chest, were made in front, by means of a large knot, to tie with and uphold the middle part.

Roman statue of Isis (Hadrian era).

Ancient Egyptian Dress - Part II[1]
The drawings presented below of the costumes of the Ancient Egyptians were procured from reference[1]. It should be noted that these were drawn from statues, reliefs and from other material that the author saw over a lengthy period of time.

Egyptian dresses from statues in the Capitol.

Egyptian priest and priestesses from statues in the Capitol.

Egyptian priest and priestesses from Denon.

Egyptian head-dresses worn in religious processions.

Egyptian priests and harp from Denon.

Egyptian capital from Denon.

Egyptian priest from a statue in the Capitol.

Egyptian female.

Isis with her sistrum (see above for the actual statue).

[1] T. Hope, Costumes of the Greeks and Romans, Dover Publications, Inc. (New York) 1962.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Chenille Embroidery
Art Essay

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Chenille Embroidery [1]
Chenille embroidery is basically embroidery done with a particular type of thread which has the appearance of velvet.

Chenille thread is a form of tufted yarn. The name derives from the French word chenille, for ‘caterpillar'. Its name is derived from the resemblance of the round fluffy thread to its namesake. During the 18th Century it was extremely fashionable in the French court and developed as a craze in England - many items of clothing, cushions and furnishings made at that time are held in major museums. This fad continued in the early 19th Century.

19th Century Metallic and Chenille Embroidered Pillow with Fringe (Detail View).

When intensely worked, the embroidery takes on the appearance of a painting on velvet. The design is traced onto the material and worked in the frame. The thread may be used like wool or silk and stitched or it could be laid over the surface and couched at intervals with the same colored silk.

Basket of Australian flowers. Chenille work, unknown provenance.
In the collection of D. Dowe.
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

Traditionally, chenille thread is made by weaving a fabric (chenille blanket) with the warp ends (usually four) placed in groups, with a gap in between each group and a weft in a much thicker yarn (or pile). The resulting woven fabric is then cut along the length between the groups of warp ends to make very long tufted strips that are used as yarns. By the end of the twentieth century, many chenille threads were made with a knitted rather than a woven warp.

Evening dress, made in Paris designed by Antonio Castillo for Lanvin. Silk with chenille embroidery and beads.
Courtesy Victoria & Albert Museum.

Chenille thread appeared in Australian embroidery from about 1850. It remained current throughout the 19th Century and the early part of the 20th Century; however the advent of machine-made "chenille" bedspreads meant that the technique and its image quickly fell out of vogue. Nevertheless, the chenille work which remains in both public and private collections is interesting and different.

Red gauze dress with chenille embroidery (1808) [1].

One beautiful piece by Miss A. Meyer is held in the collection of the Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria (Australia), is a brilliant and vibrant work showing the intensity of color achieved with this medium.

Chenille Embroidery by Miss A. Meyer, Melbourne (Australia).
Collection of the Embroiderers' Guild of Victoria (Australia).
Photograph courtesy of J. Millowick.

In the latter days of the 19th Century in Tasmania (Australia) a circle of women were making elegant silk and chenille embroideries using Tasmanian flora as motifs. One gifted artist, Elsie Maria Benjamin, the daughter of Joseph Benjamin and Mary Gale, was born in Perth, Tasmania (Australia), in 1848. Her father kept an inn where coaches changed their horses on the run from Hobart (south Tasmania) to Launceston (north Tasmania). At an early age she married an Irishman, Michael Markey, and had several children, two of whom died in infancy. Elsie was a highly skilled embroiderer and one particularly impressive piece is typical of the work done in Tasmania at this time. The date of the work is uncertain but, presuming it was done when she was a young adult, it would probably coincide with the period of Louisa Ann Meredith's Tasmanian wildflower drawings and paintings. Elsie Benjamin's work includes several wildflower motifs frequently found in Louisa Ann Meredith's work, including the blue-berried dianella species, ferns, a type of pink heath, the distinctive Tasmanian banksia, a yellow bottlebrush and the Tasmanian blue gum (eucalyptus globulus). The flowers are worked on a silk material, using both silk and chenille threads. The chenille has been used for the yellow bottlebrush and gum leaves, both of which have been couched in a shaded technique. The veins have been over stitched on the leaves. The heavy silk thread is worked in a simple satin stitch to form the pink heath and dianella berries. Wattle pompoms and the Tasmanian blue gum flowers are imaginatively worked in high relief, allowing the pieces of silk to act as tiny threads of blossom in full bloom [1].

Tasmanian wildflowers by Elsie Maria Benjamin, Perth, Tasmania, Australia ca. 1865.
The flowers were worked in heavy silk and chenille thread on silk material. They include the blue-berried Dianella species, Tasmanian banksia, yellow bottlebrush and Eucalyputs globulus (Tasmanian blue gum).
Photograph courtesy of K. Atkinson.

Chenille embroidered dresses are now very chic, fashionable and so sought after. Analogue embroidery dresses have a feel on your body that printed articles lack.

Simone Rocha, Chenille Embroidered Dress.
This sleeveless Simone Rocha dress is rendered in floral chenille embroidery and features a high round neck, a fitted bodice and a midi length straight skirt with ruffled trim draped throughout.

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

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Man-Made Fish Kills
My New Hand Printed ArtCloth

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

My artwork has appeared in a number of exhibitions which has been featured on this blog spot. I have listed these posts below.

ArtCloth: Engaging New Visions (Marie-Therese Wisniowski - Curator's Talk)
Sequestration of CO2 (Engaging New Visions) M-T. Wisniowski
Codes – Lost Voices (ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
Unleashed: The Rise of Australian Street Art (Art Exhibition) Various Artists
Merge and Flow (SDA Members Exhibition) M-T. Wisniowski
The Journey (Megalo Studio) M-T. Wisniowski
Another Brick (Post Graffiti ArtCloth Installation) M-T. Wisniowski
ArtCloth Swap & Exhibition
My Thirteen Year Contribution to the '9 x 5' Exhibition
When Rainforests Ruled (Purple Noon Art & Sculpture Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
When Rainforests Glowed (Eden Gardens Gallery) M-T. Wisniowski
My Southern Land (Galerie 't Haentje te Paart, Netherlands) M-T. Wisniowski
The Last Exhibition @ Galerie ’t Haentje the Paart
Mark Making on Urban Walls @ Palm House (Post Graffiti Art Work)
Fleeting - My ArtCloth Work Exhibited @ Art Systems Wickham Art Gallery
My Thirteen Year Contribution to the '9 x 5' Exhibition, Walker Street Gallery & Arts Centre
Timelines: An Environmental Journey

The ArtCloth dyptich, Man-Made Fish Kills, is based on the massive native fish death events that occurred In December 2018 and January 2019 in the Murray-Darling Basin in New South Wales (Australia). The fish deaths covered a 40 kilometer stretch of the Darling River, downstream from the Menindee Lakes. Some of the fish killed in these events were already endangered species of Murray cod and silver perch.

Anne Davies reported that [1-2]: 'The crisis on the Lower Darling, which has seen up to 1 million fish die, is largely due to the decisions by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority on instructions from the New South Wales government, a report by the Australia Institute finds.
"It is clear what has caused the Darling River fish kill – mismanagement and repeated policy failure,” said Maryanne Slattery, senior water researcher with the Australia Institute. “To blame the fish kill on the drought is a cop-out, it is because water releases were made from the lakes when this simply shouldn’t have happened.”'

My ArtCloth dyptich, Man-Made Fish Kills, is my tribute to the fish of the Murray-Darling Basin whose lives were cut short by this man-made ecological disaster. One species, the Murray cod is the largest exclusively freshwater native fish in Australia, and one of the largest in the world. Many live beyond 40 years of age.

Together with many Australians, I applaud The Australia Institute report call for a full inquiry, such as a Royal Commission, and much greater transparency of the decision-making process by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

Lake Hume, where a new fish kill event has occurred. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has announced it is now convening an urgent meeting after the fish kill at Menindee Lakes.
Photograph: Genevieve Vallee/Alamy.
Photo Courtesy: The Guardian.
For more details see reference [3].

Menindee Lakes: hundreds of thousands of fish dead in the Murray-Darling basin (video).
For more details see reference [4].

Materials, Techniques and Size of the ArtWorks
Based on the brilliant blue color of Lake Hume - a popular place for water skiing and fishing - and the de-oxygenated color of the Darling River - where dead fish were seen floating on its surface - I created a pallette of blue, yellow, white and black which would intermix when being printed in order to give greater control of the colors being used for each individual piece whilst keeping the visual integrity and aesthetic of the dyptich concept, Man-Made Fish Kills, consistent.

My fabric choice was heavy white cotton as it would absorb the multiple layers of transparent and opaque pigment that would be used in creating the dyptich.

The printing technique that would create the multi-faceted, rich and subtle layered imagery as well as visual depth and a sense of movement was an improvisational screen printing technique known as 'interfacing silk screen printing’. Due to the multiple layering effects, this printing technique imbued the works with barely visible background silhouettes as well as high contrast surface images - just as one views fish in water that usually appear to be at a different depth to what they actually are due to the refraction of light rays as they travel from the water into the air, making the fish appear closer to the surface.

Each panel in the dyptich was designed to be hung on a rod as a wall hanging or to be stretched on a canvas frame. The size of each panel is 70 x 74 cm.

Man-Made Fish Kills: An ArtCloth Dyptich

Title: Man-Made Fish Kills I (Full View).
Based on the above photo: ‘Lake Hume, where a new fish kill event has occurred’.
Techniques and Material: Multi-layered interfacing silk screen prints employing transparent and opaque pigments on cotton.
Size: 70 x 74 cm.

Title: Man-Made Fish Kills 1 (Detail View 1).

Title: Man-Made Fish Kills 1 (Detail View 2).

Title: Man-Made Fish Kills 2 (Full View).
Based on above video image - Menindee Lakes: hundreds of thousands of fish dead in the Murray-Darling basin (video).
Techniques and Material: Multi-layered interfacing silk screen prints employing transparent and opaque pigments on cotton.
Size: 70 x 74 cm.

Title: Man-Made Fish Kills 2 (Detail View 1).

Title: Man-Made Fish Kills 2 (Detail View 2).

[1]Anne Davis,'The Guardian’ Saturday 19th January 2019.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Finishes: Mercerization [1]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the eighty-sixth 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!

Mercerization is the process of soaking fabrics under tension in caustic soda, which results in less twist in the fibers so that more light is reflected. The yarns also become stronger, more lustrous, and easier to dye. Today's post centres on this finish.

Mercerization is the action of an alkali (caustic soda) on a fabric. Mercerizing was a revolutionary development discovered in 1853 by John Mercer, a calico printer. He noticed that his cotton filter cloth shrank, became stronger, more lustrous, and more absorbent after filtering the caustic soda used in the dye process.

Little use was made of mercerization at that time, because the shrinkage caused a 20 to 25% yardage loss, and the increased durability caused mill men to fear that less fabric would be used.

In 1897, Lowe discovered that if the fabric was held under tension, it did not shrink but became very lustrous and silk-like.

Mercerization is used on cotton and linen for many different reasons. It increases the luster and softness, gives greater strength, and improves the affinity for dyes and water-borne finishes.

Plissé effects can also be achieved in mercerized cotton fabrics.

Cotton is mercerized for luster in both yarn and fabric form. Yarn mercerization is a continuous process in which the yarn under tension passes from a warp beam through a series of boxes with guide rolls and squeeze rolls, through a boil-out wash, and a final wash.

Mercerizing Machine.

Fabric mercerization is done on a frame that contains mangles for saturating the cloth, a tenter frame for tensioning the fabric both crosswise and lengthwise while wet, and boxes for washing, neutralizing with dilute sulfuric acid, scouring, and rinsing. In rayon, the amount of improvement in luster corresponds to the difference between dull and bright fibers.

Mercerized Rayon Single Jersey.

Greater absorbency results from mercerization because the caustic soda causes a rearrangement of the molecules, thus making the hydroxyl groups available to absorb more water and water-borne substances. Thus dyes can enter the fiber more readily, and when they can be fixed inside the fiber, they are more fast. (Caustic soda is also used in vat dyeing to keep the vat dye soluble until it penetrates the fiber). Mercerized cotton and linen take resin finishes better for the same reason.

Resin finished woman's long sleeve mercerized cotton shirt.

Increased strength is an important value from mercerization. Mercerized cotton fibers are stronger because in the swollen fiber, the molecules are more nearly parallel to the fiber axis. When stress is applied, the attraction, which is an end-to-end molecular attraction, is harder to rupture than in the more spiral fibril arrangement.

Electron microscope image of cotton fibers (x2200): (a) Natural; (b) Mercerized cotton.
Note: Mercerization has caused the cotton fibers to be more order parallel to their fiber axis.

Stretch is achieved in 100% cotton by slack mercerization (i.e. mercerization without tension). It gives comfort in fabrics.

Ralph Lauren Mercerized Slack Sock 3-Pack Black.

Finally mercerization is an end process in a sequence of preparatory processes.

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