Aubergine silk and cotton Ikat
How does the Ikat weaving method work?
To watch a traditional silk Ikat being woven is to be taken into the mesmeric fold of ancient fabric design. The chromatic waves emerging from the skilled hands of the weavers are produced by the methodical interlocking of dyed silk yarns, which coalesce to form washes of colour and intricate patterns. 37 steps includes weaving and dyeing of ‘resist-dyeing,’ parts of the yarn take on the brilliant colours yielded from natural materials like St John’s Wort, turmeric, chamomile, poppies, cherry skins and tulip petals. The fine strands of silk are marked and wrapped with rubber is applied to lengths of the silk to shield them from the dyes, which is then removed and repositioned so the next colour can be applied up to seven times, from the lightest to the darkest hue. The yarns are then woven by hand to a maximum width of 40 centimetres, a process which allows master weavers to produce up to 10 metres a day.
What strikes you most about the unique patterns produced by the Ikat dyeing technique?
Ikat fabrics possess a depth of colour and a quality of line that is unrivalled amongst other varieties of dyed, patterned fabrics. They are delightfully unusual and individual in their sprawling chevrons and filigree curves. It is the unpredictability of ikats, their rejection of uniformity, that gives the fabrics their charm. The waterfall of colours produced by the merging dyes gives each in the design a sense of ephemerality: An aubergine warmth quickly fades to glorious mustard, a deep scarlet spreads through a rich maroon into fresh green and beyond.
Can exactly the same print ever be achieved twice with the traditional methods?
It is almost impossible for the master weavers to produce two identical lengths of Ikat. The dyes have an autonomy of their own, often spreading unevenly between the rubber wrapping to give each colour an original coverage. Combined with the unstable weather conditions and the whims of the dyers and weavers, each finished length will possess its own colourful personality, its own quirks and flourishes distinct from anything that has come before.
What does an Ikat fabric/accent bring to an English home?
Using an accent of Ikat in an English home will imbue any of its rooms with a taste of the East. Ikats bring colour, pattern, and the warmth implicit in both, to the backdrop of English life. Our tea-stained interiors revel in the presence of the ikat’s cascade of colour. The beauty of a traditional English home is its grounding in the eclectic. Antique wooden furniture, overlapping rugs and Tuareg mats, worn tweed upholstery and chipped willow pattern vases congregate into a diorama of layered textures and patterns, delightfully disrupted by the jolt of an ikat lampshade or cushion.