QUILTS & FABRIC: PAST & PRESENT


Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Pillar Prints---Digression into Indigo Resists


Terry Terrell and I are working on an online discussion of Pillar Print chintzes for members of the American Quilt Study Group next Monday August 29th. We aren't really experts as such on that particular style but she knows a lot about floral chintzes and botany and I know a lot about printed pattern so we are combining our expertise to entertain (& enlighten?) 22 AQSG members.

We wanted it to be interactive so we have a small enrollment, already full. I'll put my slideshow up here when we get done.

In pillar prints the dominant image is vaguely architectural
in this example with somewhat human figures holding
up the column

One of our missions is to date the style---architectural prints in a stripe set featuring columns. We reviewed the literature---Peter Floud of the Victoria & Albert Museum wrote the standard histories in the 1950s & 60's and he says:


There were two spells of popularity---
1800-1808---polychrome woodblock prints
1825-1830----roller printed

A polychrome roller-printed pillar print---
Floud would date it 1825-1830 (rather narrow range?)

We each have a few actual document prints but most of our information comes from online photos. 

These multicolored roller printed fabrics are the kind we enounter in American quilts.

How are we going to tell what's woodblock-printed or roller-printed? It's hard to determine even if you have the fabric on your worktable.

See a large photo here:

I thought you might be interested in our discussion of this particular woodblock pillar print that the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (Smithsonian) has online. They have two pieces.

Their caption tells us that it is cotton and linen (mixed yarns? Fustian? asks I) and is "resist printed, indigo dyed." Their estimated date is 1750-1775, a lot earlier than Floud's dating, which he based on some dated samples in the V&A's collection. Those were multicolored and this is not so it may be the earliest pillar print we found.


We first determined that it looks like a wood block print to us too. For one thing the pillars (there are two) do not have a continuous repeat (the design idea that cylinders or rollers did so well.) Notice pillar 1 with straight flutes) is repeated once and pillar 2 with serpentine flutes is done 3 times here. Obviously the pillars were added one at a time---by some form of hand block.

Applying resist paste by wood block today in Indonesia


When trying to determine a woodblock print one looks for the registration mark, a small unobtrusive point that helped the hand applicator know where to line up the images. Is that little blue blob to the left of the fluted pillar here a registration mark?

It might look like an error but it's rather consistent.
Here's where looking at this in the cloth would be very helpful.
It seems there are 4 or 5 distinct blocks in use, 2 pillars, 2 or 3 florals.

The caption tells us the printing technique is "resist printed, indigo dyed." Looks good to us but could you get that kind of detail in the pillars using a wood-block applied resist paste?

Recent batik fabric from Asian Journey blog

We are familiar with resist printed fabrics we call batiks after an Indonesian word for the technique of printing wax onto fabric that then resists the indigo dyes applied later. One resist medium is wax and wax crackles and dye leaks under it.

The crackles become part of batik's charm.

The floral in the pillar print.

A more common medium for resist would be a paste, which does not crack. Dye does leak under it in smudges---again part of the technique's charm. Do note the tiny dots defining the leaves here. Those are formed by metal pins inserted into the wood block. The pins print the resist paste as dots, a technique called picotage. Wires might have been inserted to define the vines.

Valence with decorative trim at the top.

So is this indigo resist dyed fabric 1750-1775??? Hard to say. 
Where was it printed? Hard to say.
Amelia Peck calls them Puzzling Fabrics and they remain so.

The Cooper Hewitt's valence is dated earlier than Floud's dates and it might even be an American print done in the colonies or the new U.S.---We wish we knew more. 

There are a few experts today. See Winterthur Museum curator Linda Eaton's excellent take:


Amelia Peck, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, wrote about indigo resist prints, below in the notes for her 2013 catalog Interwoven Globe.


Margaret OrdoƱez & Mary Gale have written about the indigo resist style:
"Eighteenth-Century Indigo-Resist Fabrics: Their Use in Quilts and Bed Hangings," AQSG's Uncoverings 25, 2004.
http://www.quiltindex.org/journals/article.php?Akid=2-B-66
(Unfortunately no pictures in this online file.) Buy the book.


See this indigo-resist dyed quilt at the International Quilt Museum.

We are not going to go into such detail in our 40 minute overview of Pillar Prints but I thought you'd be interested in our digression, which is always fun for us.


4 comments:

  1. I have a question about the term "indigo resist-dyed." What I understand is that resist paste is block printed on cloth, and dye will not adhere in the areas so printed. In the case of indigo designs (the positive) on white cloth (the negative), resist-dyeing suggests that the white areas between design elements and within the designs themselves are where the resist paste has been applied. So the negative (white) areas are resisted. With indigo dyeing, if shades of blue are desired in the design then following the first dip of the resisted cloth into the indigo dye, parts of the blue design are themselves resisted and the cloth dipped again, making the unresisted blue areas darker.

    Is this interpretation correct?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lori and I did a lot of work on indigo resist for our book Indigo Quilts of the Poos Collection including examining textiles at the VA&, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Albany Institute and others. Yes, Xenia, you have the process normally used correct. However, there are styles with this white background which have been a puzzle. We have documented textiles where it is clear that the indigo dye is painted on and not dipped. This is often referred to as China Blue. It seems there are ancient techniques similar to China Blue which result in a darker blue than we see with the China Blue process. We found these in several museums and Lori presented some examples at a Williamsburg Symposium. In this case, perhaps the resist is block printed, and the indigo is painted in the area near the resist, but not extensively on the fabric. Another technique noted in this example is a blurring which looks to be a discharge technique. This is commonly seen to get the 3 colors seen here (light blue, darker blue, white). If you have our book, you might want to refer to it for more detail.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A GREAT SPELL CASTER (DR. EMU) THAT HELP ME BRING BACK MY EX GIRLFRIEND.
    Am so happy to testify about a great spell caster that helped me when all hope was lost for me to unite with my ex-girlfriend that I love so much. I had a girlfriend that love me so much but something terrible happen to our relationship one afternoon when her friend that was always trying to get to me was trying to force me to make love to her just because she was been jealous of her friend that i was dating and on the scene my girlfriend just walk in and she thought we had something special doing together, i tried to explain things to her that her friend always do this whenever she is not with me and i always refuse her but i never told her because i did not want the both of them to be enemies to each other but she never believed me. She broke up with me and I tried times without numbers to make her believe me but she never believed me until one day i heard about the DR. EMU and I emailed him and he replied to me so kindly and helped me get back my lovely relationship that was already gone for two months.
    Email him at: Emutemple@gmail.com  
    Call or Whats-app him: +2347012841542

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's a pleasure for me to write this testimony about this wonderful thing that happened to me last week on how i got my peripheral artery disease (PAD) cured, i have been reading so-many post of some people who were cured of peripheral artery disease (PAD), but i never believed them, I was hurt and depressed so I was too curious and wanted to try dr emu when i contact him, he assured me 100% that he will heal me, i pleaded with him to help me out, it's a great success that he healed just as he promised, he told me that in three days time that i should go and check on my peripheral artery disease (PAD) status, I was floored that when i went to the hospital to check of my status that i was peripheral artery disease (PAD) negative, i never thought possible that dr emu can do miracles, i never really believed in magic but I played along with a little hope and faith and after everything but dr emu changed my life and made me a true believer you can contact him emutemple@gmail.com  emutemple@yahoo.com or whatsapp Number: +2347012841542 website: https://emutemple.wordpress.com/ he said that he is also specialize on the following diseases: HERPES, HIV, ALS, HPV, DIABETES, HEPATITIS B, CANCER, SICKLE CELL, VIRGINAL DRYNESS, And Bring Back Your Ex back.

    ReplyDelete