Thursday, February 6, 2014


Barkcloth is a versatile material that was once common in Asia, Africa, Indonesia, and the Pacific. Barkcloth comes primarily from trees of the Moraceae family. It is made by beating sodden strips of the fibrous inner bark of these trees into sheets, which are then finished into a variety of items. Many texts that mention "paper" clothing are actually referring to barkcloth. Painted barkcloths were originally clothing, to be worn and discarded. Many of the designs draw on tattooing (in New Guinea) or skin painting (in the Ituri rainforest of Central Africa). Today, what is commonly called 'barkcloth' is a soft, thick, slightly textured fabric, so named because it has a rough surface like that of tree bark. This barkcloth is usually made of densely woven cotton fibers. Historically, the fabric has been used in home furnishings, such as curtains, drapery, upholstery, and slipcovers. It is often associated with 1940s-through-1960s home fashions, particularly in tropical, abstract, "atomic" and "boomerang" prints, the last two themes being expressed by images of atoms with neutrons whirling, and by the boomerang shape which was very popular in mid-century cocktail tables and fabrics all-cotton rhino cloth or standard barkcloth. • One of my assignments is to reinvent a traditional design in the spirit of barkcloth from the 40's and 50's. I'm drawn to the earlier period of decorated backcloths, so simple and graphic.

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