The Ikat class starts today and I couldn’t be more happy to be teaching it. I thought I would share with all of you a little bit of Ikat history.

Although Ikat is a Malay word, Ikat weaving is present in many cultures around the world, such as African, South American and Asian countries, being one of the oldest textile decoration techniques. The process consists of resist dyeing (normally by tie-dye) the warps and/or wefts before weaving.

Weft being prepared for ikat weaving, India

(photos courtesy of http://textiledesigninindia-indiansaris.blogspot.com)

The patterns include geometric and floral forms, stripes, animals, etc and, depending on how the warp and weft threads are aligned together, can either be super rigorous and sharp or have a blurred look.

When only the warps have been resist dyed the technique is called warp ikat. One great example of warp ikat comes from West African textiles, where the warp is resist dyed with indigo, creating a white and blue striped effect.

Stripwoven ‘country cloth’, Ghana (top right); Yoruba stripwoven cloth, with warp ikat details (bottom right);  Stripwoven Woman’s cloth, Nigeria (top left); Yoruba stripwoven ‘country cloth’ (bottom left)

(photos from John Gillow’s “African Textiles”)

Sometimes, only the weft threads are resist-dyed to create the pattern. This is the technique that we’re going to explore on TAC’s Ikat Class, and as you can see from this silk and gold thread weft ikat from Bali, amazing results can also be achieved.

(photo courtesy of http://indokain.com)

When both warps and wefts are resist-dyed to create a pattern together the technique is called double ikat, and one of the better examples are the famous Patola wovens from India.

Weaving a double-ikat Patola, Patan, India

(photo courtesy of http://textiledesigninindia-indiansaris.blogspot.com)

(Double-Ikat) Patola from textiles

(photo courtesy of http://www.abouttextile.com)

Or the also famous examples from Toraja culture, Indonesia..

Indonesian funeral shroud or hanging, (porilonjong), Central Sulawesi (Celebes), Rongkong, Toraja, cotton with ikat paterns,

(photo courtesy of Honolulu Academy of Arts)

I hope you’re feeling inspired by these international ikat textiles – I can’t wait to see what our students are going to be creating tonight in Brooklyn!

 

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