Friday, July 18, 2008

Vintage Barkcloth Fabric

One of the primary elements of my textile jewelry is vintage barkcloth fabric. On several occasions I have been asked what that is. So, if you would like to know a little more...
The term barkcloth refers primarily to the nubby weave of this particular fabric. It is made of cotton, or at times a mix of cotton & rayon or linen. It was first introduced in the 1930's during the Art Deco period. Having a medium to heavy weight made it ideal for home furnishings such as drapes or upholstery. In the 30's the most popular motifs were florals & tropical prints. By the 1940's scenic imagery was in vogue; from nautical themes, imagery depicting the American West to pastoral landscapes... As science and the space age took hold in the 1950's a new look in barkcloth emerged; referred to as the atomic period. The elements were more geometric with influences of artists such as Miro. Kinetic designs featuring boomerangs and starbursts were also a part of this new look. Florals were not in style anymore.
For the past 25 years or so the look has come back with the popularity of the vintage/retro aesthetic. Reproductions are available, which makes finding large quantities with no damage a lot easier. However, there are still many great finds to come across at flea markets etc. I have found myself a wonderful source where I can get small pieces of many exceptional fabrics that have been sourced from all over North America. I get inspired by each and every piece in my collection!

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