Calico cloth & printing

Calico cloth is a plain-woven textile material produced from unbleached and frequently semi-processed cotton.

Calico Fabric

Calico material may contain un-separated husk parts.

For example: The fabric is less coarse and thicker than canvas or denim but outstanding to its unfinished and un-dyed look, so it is still very cheap.

Calico cloth is originally from the city of Kozhikode, Kerala, India which is known by Europeans as Calicut in the 11th century. This news was stated in Indian literature by the 12th century when the writer Hemacandra explained about calico fabric prints with a lotus design.

The fabric was produced by the conventional weavers called Chaliyans.

The raw fabric was dyed and printed in bright hues and calico prints became popular in Europe.

By the 15th century, calico from Gujarat made its emergence in Egypt. Deal with Europe pursued from the period of 17th century onwards. Calico was woven using Surat cotton for both the warp and weft.

Calico printing

Ancient Indian printed and glazed calico cotton fabrics with large floral patterns were first and foremost fashioned by painting techniques. Then later, the hues were applied by means of wooden blocks and it was named as the wooden block printing, which was used in London.

To act with intelligence, linen and silk material that was printed by this method was known as linen calicoes and silk calicoes. The premature European calicoes (around the time of 1680) would thus be a low-priced equal weft and warp plain weave cotton fabric in white, cream or unbleached cotton, which may be with a block printed design using a single alizarin dye, fixed with two mordants giving a red and black pattern. Mordants are used to increase the dying fastness.

Polychromatic prints could be done with two sets of blocks and a supplementary blue dye.

Calico Designs

The Indian flavor was for dark printed backgrounds while the European market preferred a pattern on a cream base. As the century developed, the European favorite moved from the large glazed calico patterns to smaller and tighter patterns.

Thomas Bell patented the performance of printing by copper rollers in the year 1783 and the initial machine was set up by Livesey, Hargreaves & Co near Preston in 1785.

Calico in UK, Australia, New Zealand

In the countries United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, Calico prints are simple, inexpensive equal weft and warp plain weave fabric in white color, cream color or sometimes it might be unbleached cotton.

In America

Printed calico was imported into the United States from Lancashire in the period of 1780s and here a linguistic division occurred while Europe preserved the word calico for the fabric, in the United States and all it was used to resemble the printed design.

These colorful and small-patterned printed fabrics arise to the make use of the word calico to describe a cat coat color “calico cat”. Calico patterned fabric also gave its name to two types of North American crabs.

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