We are so glad to welcome the lovely Monique from Original Mischief to talk to us about barkcloth. Monique is an avid fan of vintage and vintage fabrics and has some gorgeous vintage fabric creations in her new Etsy shop! Thank you for your article and piccies, Monique - it's all so wonderful :) Stay tuned next week for a guest blog by a veritable crafty living legend :)...and don't forget to let us know if you would like a guest spot in the weeks to come...
I can’t thank Vanessa from Retro Age Vintage Fabrics enough for allowing me to be a guest blogger.
What is barkcloth? Originally, bark cloth was cloth made from the Tapa tree which was beaten into sheets and worn by the people in the South Pacific and surrounds.
Bark cloth was (and still is for that matter) used for both ceremonial and functional purposes and was usually decorated with stylized plants and fish.
The barkcloth fabric that is the highly sought after textile we know and love today has the rough, nubby texture of bark but is made typically from cotton. Depending on the period the barkcloth was made, it was also made from other materials such as fibreglass and polyester, although it has a different ‘hand’.
Barkcloth was made primarily between 1930 and 1960 – although some countries still produced barkcloth into the 70’s – and was used for all manner of household decoration such as curtains, bedspreads, cushions and upholstery.
Patterns included big, blousy roses, art deco geometrics, art nouveau flourishes, tiki flora, metallic thread, and of course, the well known beatnik look.
There are literally thousands of patterns available on the market if searching for barkcloth – the USA has different patterns from the UK and both countries have different patterns from Australia.
Australia was still producing barkcloth into the latter part of the 1970s when the fabric was covered in pop art and flower power designs in orange, lime green, hot pink, red and blue. The designers of the time really let their imaginations go wild!
Barkcloth today is made into handbags, purses, cushions, dresses… whatever you can dream of. Some barkcloth pieces are more sought after than others such as any of the colourways of Glen Court or Zebra Crossing. Even some of the flower power fabrics are highly sought after given that they hark from a time when an explosion of colour was all the rage.
If you want more information on barkcloth, some sites I would recommend are:
http://www.trueup.net/?p=580 (True Up – page 580)
Books I would recommend (especially to see the pictures!) are:
Vintage Textured Barkcloth by Margaret Meier
Fabulous Barkcloth: Home decorating textiles from the 30s,40s & 50s by Loretta Smith Fehling
Again, thank you Vanessa for allowing me to wax poetic on barkcloth – a fave of mine and I’m sure of many others… or soon will be!
Monique – Original Mischief
All words and images courtesy of Monique, Original Mischief