A History of Applied Fiber and Fabric Enhancements (Part 3)

After leather, early man started to utilize nature as a source for fiber to make textiles and fabric.

For over five thousand years, the following four fibers and a few woven grasses were the only materials available for the manufacture of fabrics.

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5,000+ BC FLAX
Generally considered to be the oldest natural textile fiber. Fine linene was used as burial shrouds for the Egyptian pharaohs.

The largest producer: Soviet States; other large producers include Poland, Germany, Belgium, and France. The largest exporters are Northern Ireland and Belgium.

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3,000+ BC COTTON
The earliest use estimated between 3,000 BC to 5,000 BC.

Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1793 AD revolutionized the processing of cotton. The development of the power loom in 1884 AD brought significant improvements and variations to cotton fibers.

The major producers: United States, Soviet States, China, and India. The lesser producers include: Pakistan, Brazil, Turkey, Egypt, Mexico, Iran, and Sudan.

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3,000+ BC WOOL
Used by people of the Late Stone Age. There are 40 different breeds of sheep, which produce approximately 200 types of wool in varying grades.

The major producers include: Australia, New Zealand, Soviet States, China, South Africa, and Argentina.

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2,600+ BC SILK
Ancient fable tells story of the creation of the first silk thread by a Chinese princess. Silk is made from two continuous filaments cemented together and used to form the cocoon of the silkworm. Silk culture began about 1725 BC, encouraged by the wife of China’s emperor. Secrets of cultivation and fabric manufacturing were closely gaurded by the Chinese for about 3,000 years.

The story goes that two monks smuggled seeds of the mulberry tree and silkworm eggs out of China by hiding them in their walking sticks.

India first learned of sil culture when a Chinese princess married an Indian prince.

The current major producer and exporter of silk is Japan.

 

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A History of Applied Fiber and Fabric Enhancements (Part 2)

The primitive man hunted wild animals for food. He removed the hides and skins form the dead animal carcass and used them as crude tents, clothing, footwear, and bedding.

The earliest record of the use of leather dates from the Paleolithic period. Cave paintings discoverd near Lerida in Spain depict the use of leather clothing.

Excavation of Paleolithic sites has yielded bone tools used for scraping hides and skins to remove hair. These scraped skins rapidly putrfied and became useless, so a method of preservation was needed.

The earliest method was to stretch out the hides and skins on the ground to dry, rubbing them with fats and animal brains while they dried. This had a limited preserving and softening action. Primitve man discovered also that the smoke of wood fires could preserve hides and skins, as did treating them with and infusion of tannin-containing barks, leaves, twigs, and fruits of certain trees and plants. It seems likely that man first discovered how to preserve leather when he found that animal skins left lying on a wet forest floor became tanned naturally by chemicals released by decaying leaves and vegetation.

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FAT TANNING
Fat tanning is the oldest method of waterproofing skins and turning them into leather. Ancient Assyrian texts, as well as Homer’s Iliad, mention this method. Ancients would rub ainmal fat into the skins, stretching them to help the fat incorprate into the hide. The resulting leather resisted moisture and rot because, as we all know, oil and water do not mix.

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BRAIN TANNING
Brain Tanning is another common method of turning skins or hides into water-resistant leather. Used by ancient Native Americans, brain tanning involves soaking cleaned skins in a mixture of water and the animal’s own brains. Though this may seem disgusting, brains conain both emulsifying fats and softening agents that help preserve the finished leather.

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SMOKING
Smoking was another common method ancient peoples used to tan and waterproof leather. Most likely discovered by accident, hides were exposed to smoke, a preservative and drying agent. This helped protect the finish product against moisture and rot. Often used in conjunction with methods like brain tanning, smoking wasn’t absolutely necessary but did give the hides additional softness and an appealing brown color.

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All of these methods did improve the natural leather’s ability to withstand wear and limited exposure to moisture. it even gave a small layer of protection against UV damage. It did not, however, provide any redustion in flammability. In fact, it probably made it burn faster!

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A History of Applied Fiber and Fabric Enhancements (Part 1)

The subject of textile enhancement is as broad and varied as there are uses and types of fibers and fabrics.

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For this series we will be looking at two specific types of material utilization. Residential and Commercial Furnishings and Decor.

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We will discover, however, that most of the enhancements we utilize in these two areas came from development in other areas of utilization.

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Now, a quick word on “Applied Enhancements”

Obviously, there are hundreds of applications to fabrics that could be considered “enhancements.” Everything from pigmentation to treatments textile feel is technically enhancing the fabric.

We will be concentrating on enhancements that are “appled” treatments and not something that was engineered into the textile or fabric at its point of origin or manufacture.

The applied enhancements we will be discussing in this series will pertain to four areas of improvement.
1. Water Repellency: A fabric’s ability to repel or resist the absorption of moisture.
2. Wear Resistance: A fabric’s ability to sustain use and/or wear.
3. Fade and UV Resistance: The ability to reduce the amount in which a fabric is degraded by Ultra Violet Light. (Sunlight)

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Humans have been applying enhancements to fibers for a long, long time!

This is a leather treatment shop in Morocco that has been in use for hundreds of years.

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This is an ancient piece of linen coated with wax.

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From its earliest beginnings our relationhip with fabrics has been that of a constant search for improvement to its natural performance. Mankind first used the skins of animals as clothing.

Next came their use in making primitive shelters and later to help make these environments more comfortable.

It can be said that as a species we are never happy with good enough. We are always seeking to make things better, stronger, and last longer. And that has never been more evident than through how we have improved upon nature’s fibers, textiles, and fabrics.

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Rug Pads

Rug pads create a safer environment by reducing the wrinkles and slippage of your area rug, which also makes it easier to vacuum. Whether you need a rug pad for a hard surface or carpet, we have the selection for you. Pro-Care offers three different types of quality rug pads. One is for use under Oriental or pile rugs, a second for flat weaves and a third for use with rugs laid over carpet. Pre-cut or custom cut sizes are available.

Not only will rug pads bring comfort and cushion to your rugs, but they’ll also add durability to make them last longer. You can even protect your floors underneath with padding that prevents color transfer and staining.

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MicroSeal

Protect your walkways and furnishings by requesting Pro-Care technicians to apply MicroSeal to your textiles. Give us a call to have your textiles cleaned AND protected – (615) 221-4100 or check out our website at www.microsealofnashville.com/mainhero

How to Select Carpet by Pro-Care, Nashville’s Premium Carpet Cleaning Company

Carpet Selection Guide (Post 5 of 5)

WOOL
Wool comes from the fleece of sheep or lambs. This is one of the oldest fibers used by man, dating back over two thousand years. It is still one of the finest face yarns available for carpet. Wool is chemically made up of standard organic elements including sulfur, which accounts for the wool smell when it is damp.

PROS

  • Wool has excellent soil hiding capabilities. Wool will not exhibit or show soil as much as other fibers. The reason for this is that wool is an opaque fiber (as opposed to synthetics which are transparent) and wool doesn’t refract and reflect light like synthetics. The naturally dull appearance provided by the scales of the epidermis makes soil much less apparent to the human eye.
  • Wool is very strong, elastic and resilient. Wool face yarn in a well-constructed carpet will stand up to the heaviest traffic and still look beautiful. (Notice the carpet in most casinos and finer hotel lobbies and hallways).
  • Natural crimp makes wool and excellent insulator.
  • Good Absorbency – This means that wool reacts well to a number of dye types and techniques. Keep in mind, this means easy staining also.
  • Soil Release – Wool responds very well to cleaning as moisture makes the fiber swell and release dirt.
  • Wool is naturally flame retardant.
    CONS
  • Wool is a very expensive material. This arises mainly from the processing cost, the cleaning, and the preparation, etc., rather than the actual cost of the raw material.
  • Fiber Distortion – Wool is very prone to distortion by excess agitations such as jet streaks and wand marks. This is particularly pronounced when it happens under heated conditions.
  • Stains Easily – Due to its absorbency and ease of dyeing, wool is also easily stained by wine, Kool-Aid and other acid dyestuffs. Remember that absorbency is the same quality that makes wool so desirable as far as dye acceptance and obtaining the beautiful rich colors that you often find in wool carpets and oriental rugs.
  • Chemical Sensitivity – Wool is sensitive to alkaline chemicals above a pH of 9.5 after prolonged exposure. This exposure will tend to make wool brittle and discolor somewhat. This problem is sometimes referred to as “felting”. Wool is also very sensitive to chlorine bleach, such as Clorox, which is normally found in homes and grocery stores. Chlorine bleach will completely dissolve wool within a matter of minutes. The New Zealand Wool Bureau recommends water-based cleaning solutions with a pH not lower than 5.5 and not higher than 8 pH.
  • Staple Yarn – Fuzzing can be a source of problems because wool only comes as a staple yarn and excess agitation can cause that fuzzing effect.