Years ago -- in the summer 1999 issue of Weaver's magazine -- Holly Brackmann wrote an article on "Cloqué and Deflected Double Weave." I wove the sample above on 8 shafts based on this article, using a deflected-double-weave pattern with alternating blocks of 30/2 silk (pictured above in white) and 20/2 cotton (seen above in navy).
The sample on the left and bottom parts of the photo is before finishing; the sample on the upper right is after finishing using the lye-shrinkage process known as cloqué. The other samples were equally beautiful and intriguing and I've been interested in weaving a cloqué project ever since.
As Brackmann writes, "This is a dangerous process and should be used with extreme caution. Fabrics are immersed in a 20-33% lye-to-water solution. Lye is extremely caustic and great care must be taken to protect eyes, hair, skin, and nails. Wear goggles, an apron, respirator, and gloves."
I followed her directions to the "T" and was pleased with the results.
Using gold gimp as weft
Using Habotai silk in weft
I first heard about the technique from a weaver-friend of mine, Pam Carr, when we were in a workshop together at Convergence in Vancouver, studying differential shrinkage with Liz Williamson. We were weaving double-weave and deflected-double-weave samples with 20/2 cotton and 18/2 merino, which collapses after washing because the wool fulls and the cotton puffs and pleats as a result of this shrinkage. Pam spoke up about using cloqué as a differential-shrinkage technique and I was really intrigued.
That was back in 2002 -- so, jump ahead 19 years and Pam and I meet up in my hometown of Rochester, NY. She brought along a couple of her cloqué samples from a workshop she took with Joy Boutrup back in the day.
Double-weave in cotton and silk, finished with lye-shrinkage technique,
with permission from Pam Carr
Another sample from Pam, from the same workshop
Here I am, almost two decades after hearing about this technique, planning a double-weave project on 16 shafts, threaded for Echo, and finished with cloqué.
Drawdown of the design, showing just a portion of the treadling
Cloqué is related to mercerization: Invented by John Mercer in 1844 and still used today to treat cellulose fibers, mercerization also uses caustic soda (lye), in this case to give cotton yarn greater thickness and strength and to give it increased dyeing capacity.
Years later, in 1884, plissé crepe was created in Lyons for the first time by the firm of Garnier and Depouilly. Plissé has a seersucker effect, produced by the alternating application of caustic soda and a resist chemical that prevents the caustic soda from shrinking the fabric where applied.
My fibers are 30/2 silk, dyed with osage orange and cochineal to achieve a copper color, and 18/2 unmercerized cotton, dyed with osage orange, cochineal, and indigo to achieve a dark gray color.
I plan on calling the piece "Corona Burnout" because the motifs in the pattern look like microscopic images of the Coronavirus -- and heaven knows we are all burned out from the tragedies and troubles it's created.
And what happens if I don't like the samples? Well, I will move on to trying another French technique, devoré -- which literally means burnout.
More to come... Thanks for reading!