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Object Timeline

1960

  • We acquired this object.

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2020

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Textile (England)

This is a Textile. It was manufactured by Bromley Hall and Ollive and Talwin. We acquired it in 1960. Its medium is cotton and its technique is printed by engraved copper plate on plain weave foundation. It is a part of the Textiles department.

Unlike most other dyes, indigo does not dissolve in water, so it must be chemically reduced to properly saturate fibers. When reduced, the dye becomes colorless and water soluble, penetrating the fabric when it is submerged. Only when the fabric is lifted out of the dye and exposed to air does the indigo return to its original deep blue color. The use of indigo dye is easy enough when the dyer wishes to dye a whole, or even a section, of yarn or fabric. It becomes problematic, however, when the dyer wishes to use the dyestuff to print.
In the 1740s, a top-secret English invention called ‘China Blue’ solved this problem. In this process, the dyestuff was finely ground into a printable paste that could be applied to fabric. The printed fabric was then alternately submerged in baths of reducing agents and exposed to air to bring out the blue color. This development, combined with the invention of the copper plate printing process in the 1740s, enabled the production of indigo-dyed cooper plate-printed fabrics such as this.

This object was featured in our Object of the Week series in a post titled Something Borrowed and Something Blue.

Cite this object as

Textile (England); Manufactured by Bromley Hall (United Kingdom); cotton; 1960-55-1

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If you would like to cite this object in a Wikipedia article please use the following template:

<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18434237/ |title=Textile (England) |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=27 September 2020 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>