Utrect velvet

Stamping Utrecht Velvet
Embossing Utrecht Velvet
Terry Edging

Amongst the many persons who had seen my castings from Nature coated with copper, at the Museum, was a member of the old-established firm of decorators, Messrs. Pratt, of Bond Street; and being at that time in search of someone to carry out an idea of his own, he sought an interview with me. He explained his object, and asked me if I thought it possible to produce an imitation of a particular material which he required, showing me at the same time some splendid old specimens of figured Genoa velvet with a satin ground. Mr. Pratt's idea was to produce an imitation of this beautiful fabric on Utrecht velvet, woven plain, and to have the desired patterns produced thereon by stamping, after the manner of the embossed cotton velvet so much in fashion at that time. He told me that various qualities of Utrecht velvet had been tried for him by the best manufacturers of embossed cotton velvet, but all attempts to produce a permanent effect on this stubborn material had utterly failed, and he had abandoned the idea of getting it made, until he had by chance seen the metal castings from Nature before referred to. Explaining this circumstance to me, he complimented me by saying that the idea at once struck him that the man who had found out how to produce such marvellous castings would, in all probability, soon discover how to emboss Utrecht velvet.

The result of this interview was that Mr. Pratt left with me a specimen of his woven Genoa velvet, a copy of which I undertook to try and produce by heat and presssure on a plain fabric. This Utrecht velvet is a long-piled, very harsh and stubborn worsted material, as, indeed, every one would at once recognise who had seen chairs covered with it, and sat upon for years, without the pile being flattened down.

I provided myself with a flat brass die, or plate, engraved nearly a quarter of an inch deep, each of the parts sunk in it having vertical sides and a flat bottom, so that the pile at certain parts was left wholly untouched by the die, and therefore in its normal state; while those parts which came in contact with the plate were crushed down. All this was perfect enough, as far as it went; but I, like others, failed to produce a permanent effect, for in two or three days the pile so pressed down would partially rise again, and the pattern almost disappear. Many things were tried, but neither hot water nor steaming, nor the application of alkaline solutions, were of any avail, and I began to fear that I should be no more successful than others had been in dealing with this material. Further consideration, however, and a little study of the nature and properties of hair and wool, led to the idea that these substances were really of the nature of horn; and this material, I knew, was capable of semi-fusion at high temperature, and was, in that condition, suitable for being moulded into various ornamental shapes, which permanently retained, when cold, the forms thus impressed upon them in a heated state. I now felt that I was on the right scent, and believed that if I could rapidly submit the material to a very high temperature, and then move it away as quickly, a partial fusion of the part in contact with the hot surface of the die would take place, and produce a glossy surface like satin, which would never again stand up as pile.

I had no sooner got this view of the subject than I took measures to put it to a practical test. The result went to show that by maintaining the metal surface, which was in contact with the velvet, at a very high temperature for a short and definite period, and acting under a carefully regulated amount of pressure, the process could be made a perfect success. These experiments also proved that the temperature must be so high as to produce a semi-fusion of the wool, and that if continued for a fraction of a minute too long the fabric would be destroyed.

The next step was to devise a machine in which these very critical conditions could be practically carried out on a commercial scale. This I undertook to do at my own cost, in consideration of the very liberal price per yard offered me for embossing the velvet. I erected, on my own premises, the machine I had designed, and personally regulated its operations. The apparatus consisted mainly of a massive iron frame, in which was mounted a very deeply-engraved hollow roller of cast iron, having a plain or unindented paper roller running in contact with its under-side. The iron roller was not heated by steam, as the temperature absolutely necessary was too high for that mode of heating; so I had to apply a powerful Bunsen gas- burner, extending the whole length of the interior of the open-ended, hollow-engraved roller, and by that means I kept it at a constant temperature just short of what would be destructive to the fabric. Now, a

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.