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 – Proven to be the Best Textile Sealant

MicroSeal was specifically and expressly designed in England many years ago to permanently replenish the natural protective agent that a sheep produces for its own coat. In addition to wear and stain protection, MicroSeal provides substantial sun fade resistance for the wool. Just as exciting, silk blend rugs can now be protected from sun degradation.

Every day soil is naturally absorbed into the center of the wool fiber, hiding the dirt from the naked eye. Often consumers don’t realize their rug is dirty because they can’t see it. Unlike a typical fabric protector that only “coats” the fiber and then breaks up easily, MicroSeal penetrates the wool fiber to its inner cortex and protects it from the inside out. Not only from permanent stains and wear, but also from sun fade damage (nearly 100% on most fabrics according to 25 years of field and laboratory testing).