I live in Northern California not far from the Sierra Nevadas and grew up in the great West – Colorado – so I’m familiar with the reaction to Ikat textiles: ‘It looks Southwestern’. I seldom recommend these beautiful fabrics to clients in my area because of this reaction even when I know their beauty transcends any culture or design aesthetic. I continue to see major fabric houses like Kravet and Lee Jofa bring new Ikats into their lines each season. Just today I saw Kravet’s newest lines which include some delicious Ikats. And for you fashionistas out there clothing designers from Ann Taylor to Gucci are using Ikats in their summer collections. A lucky someone somewhere is enjoying these…
Ikats are woven textiles (vs printed textiles) from cultures all over the world. They have been around for centuries and like any craft or art form they vary from country to country. Several South-East Asian cultures have long histories of Ikat production, and they are still common in Central and South America. In the 19th century cultures along the historic Silk Road were famous for their fine silk Ikats which were coveted throughout Europe.
But what is an Ikat? They are textiles that result from a time consuming and skillful process of dyeing either or both the warp and weft threads prior to the weaving process. It is a resist dye process, like Batik or Tie-Dye. Warp Ikats are the easiest to make: before the warp strings are attached to the loom they are arranged into bundles which are tied and dyed separately and repeatedly to achieve multiple colors and patterns. The pattern emerges when the loom is set up and can be seen before the introduction of any weft threads. No doubt this takes a great deal of time and skill and discipline.
Lovely, timeless, and perfect in any decor from modern to traditional, from rustic to urban, from California to India. Someday one of my lucky clients will say ‘yes’.