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barkcloth bliss

emma lamb

Hello, hello!
Today I have something very exciting to share with you all, it is news of a fabulous new bloggy project I'll be doing in partnership of my dear friend Miss Polly, of Folly & Glee.

Over the last few weeks we have got our crafty heads together to come up with an inspiring and creative way to combine and celebrate the vintage barkcloth fabric that Polly is so passionate about and my insatiable need for gorgeous colour. Of course it's a no brainer really, yummy colour palettes!
Sitting on my desk right now is a wee pile of precious barkcloth swatches that Polly has specially picked out for me and my oh my are they yummy... Barkcloth Bliss indeed! There's one wee swatch in particular that stood out for me on first inspection so expect to see that one in the first palette which I'll be preparing later today.

Folly & Glee, handmade barkcloth lampshades | Emma Lamb

But before we get ahead of ourselves let me hand you over to lovely Polly herself to tell you a wee bit about barkcloth, why she loves it so and why it deserves to be celebrated...


"Barkcloth" is a generic term used in the textile world to describe the nubby, bark-like texture of a 100% cotton open crepe weave that became very popular in the 1940s and 50s but which is sadly no longer produced in any quantity. Here are my top ten reasons for loving it so...

1. Its nubby, bumpy but oh so soft texture.

2. How just touching barkcloth instantly transports me back to my great grandmother’s front room in a tiny cottage with the gentle ticking of a grandfather clock, the smell of fairy cakes and a rude parakeet in the corner!

3. The depth of colour. No other fabric achieves that. Even when faded with age barkcloth has vibrancy.

4. The mix of colours. Why is it that you can pick up random swatches of barkcloth of varying age, pattern and style but somehow the colours will work together?

5. The artistry of the designers. From the great scenic “story capes” of the Grandma Moses paintings woven in barkcloth by Riverdale Fabrics, the elegance of limited editions by Hans Jura, Nicola Wood and others for Heals... to the loud psychedelic madness of popular Simpson & Godlee prints of the 1960s. Amazing.

6. Admiration for the work that goes intro producing this entirely natural cloth. Original barkcloths would be made from the inner bark of the paper mulberry tree. Cotton barkcloths have such a dense weave that printing them would have been a very costly process but they are often mirrored so you get two right sides to the fabric.

Folly & Glee, handmade barkcloth buttons | Emma Lamb

7. It is strong, handles really well under any machine foot and is just generally a dream to work with.

8. I love the story behind barkcloths sudden popularity in 1940s America i.e. that sailors posted in the Pacific Islands loved the tropical print shirts made from the local fabric so much they took rolls of it back home. The rest is history.

9. Spotting barkcloth on movie sets and any drama where the set designers know their stuff. I’m a real pain to go to the cinema with!

10. The thrill of the chase. Yes it’s getting harder and harder to find. Yes it’s ridiculously expensive. But oh the thrill of getting it home laundered and folded.

Barkcloth Bliss.

Polly
x

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