Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Chintz Continued

[Detail views: Handcrafted chintz from RedTree Textile Studio.
 Images courtesy founder Renuka Reddy.]

Chintz. Today the word suggests a tame, flower-filled realm. But there was a time when chintz -- hand-drawn, resist-dyed cotton crafted in India specifically for the West -- was a political hot button. It incited riots and drove British women to buy fabric on the black market. Some even say imported chintz was the spark that ignited the Industrial Revolution in Europe.

In her chintz podcast, Rosemary Crill explains that the word is actually an Anglicization of a Dutch form of an Indian term meaning "sprinkle" or "spatter." Confusing because the finely drawn patterns seem nothing like spatterware. (Although, Crill says, some chintz does have "sprinkled" color in the background.) Moving past etymology, what's really fascinating about this cloth is how its style endures. Renuka Reddy is among the 21st century devotees. At her studio, RedTree, she continues to research antique examples and use old world techniques to produce new fabrics. Pictured here are her non-commercial trials based on pieces in the V & A's collection.

Reddy is after chintz as it existed in the 17th and 18th centuries. She likes to see the fine white lines that make old chintz distinctive. Because her studio uses intricate resist-dyeing techniques, in addition to hand-painting with a kalem on hand-spun and hand-woven cotton, she told me that she believes what she is doing is unique. RedTree also accepts commissions from designers to create limited yardage of original designs. So you can contact Reddy if you're interested in learning more.  

Below, let's look back at the ancestors.

Calico Museum installation: India's trade cloth.

And chintz documented in John Forbes Watson's 18-volume, 19th-century sample set, The Textile Manufactures of India.

Lastly, some of the beauties included in Crill's illustrated talk, such as the pink ground cloth favored by the Dutch and a Chinese/English/Indian hybrid.


Dean Farris said...

A very interesting history of a wonderful old material, often misunderstood, by those who are not in the trade.
Thanks for the enlightenment!


Style Court said...

Dean -- so glad you appreciate the labor-intensive work, too. Hope you're well.