Friday, April 15, 2011


Today's edition of Hit The Books is about Ikat. It has been a mainstream fabric trend for a few years nows, but after seeing a bunch of bloggers post pictures of the latest Anthropologie chairs, I thought I might write a little bit about it. So lets go and....

It is said that the first ikat weaver was inspired by the reflection of clouds seen in a pool of water. Many cultures have a tradition of ikat fabrics. Places like Uzbekistan, Indonesia, and Guatemala have distinct motifs and colors associated with their ikat cloth. In the case of Anthropologie, there is a mishmash of inspirations, but the chairs lean more towards the Uzbek style of ikat. Uzbek style frequently features bright colors and floral motifs.

Ikat is a resist dye process. There are several ways to create Ikat. All center on creating a resist on the future fabric's warp (lengthwise thread), weft (widthwise thread), or both warp and weft. Typically, the warp and/or weft is stretched out to its eventual finished length. Then a resist is added. The resist, which can be anything from wax to tied thread, is tied around individual portions of the warp/weft. This creates a pattern by prevents dye from touching certain parts of the thread. The warp/weft is then dunked in dye. Depending on how many colors the future design will have determines the number of times the warp/weft has to be re tied and re dyed. Needless to say, it is time consuming.

The concept of double ikat, let alone the ability to create it is amazing. Both the warp and weft have to be stretched to the predetermined finished shape. Then the resist is applied in a way so the design lines up on both the warp and the weft. The reason ikats have a blurry look is because of the level of difficulty that exists in trying to line up the individual threads correctly. Although, in some cases, that blurry look is embraced.

While current ikat fabric resemble a traditional ikat, the process is different. The dye is printed on top, after the fabric has been woven rather than dyed before the weaving process takes place. The characteristic blurry color is always emphasized.


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