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Clothing As Art
Art is the product of the human ability to create something new that has a form and beauty.
Art in clothing is expressed in several ways. It is how a person wears clothes – what pieces are worn together, what colours are put together. It can also be how clothes are designed and sewn and decorated.
In all cultures, art is expressed through clothes. This is why clothes differ from culture to culture. People who are especially good at creating clothes often become clothes and fabric designers. One important and obvious way to express creativity through clothes is to colour them. One of the first ways that people coloured clothes was by dyeing and printing them. Dyeing is a method of giving a colour to fabrics, yarns, or fibres. The substances used to do this are called dyes. They penetrate, or go through, fabric or yarns to change its colour. Printing is a process of introducing one or more colours or neutrals into a solid-coloured fabric.
Two old printing methods that are still popular today are tie-dyeing and batiking.
Tie-dyeing the fabric is tightly connected with producing a desired pattern or print. Then the fabric is dipped in dye. The kind of design that is achieved with tie-dyeing depends largely on how the fabric is tied. Tying fabrics around stones or marbles creates circles. If the fabric is folded or pleated and then tied, the design appears in rows. Sometimes the fabric is stitched and the threads are tightened or drawn up to create the pattern. Wax thread is often used to tie fabric for tie-dyeing. It holds back the dye and makes a cleaner design.
Many items of traditional Japanese and Nigerian clothes are tie-dyed.
Batiking is done with hot wax and dyes. The hot wax is applied to the fabric. As with the wax thread, the dye will not soak into a waxed area. The fabric is there dipped in dyes. Several different dyes can be used in batiking. Some of the wax can be removed so the dyes can be absorbed by new areas of fabric. The wax is removed by applying heat, which melts it.
Batik printing was perfected by the Japanese, a group of people who live in Indonesia. Like tie-dye patterns, batik patterns can also be created by machines. Some machine batik patterns are as creative and interesting as hand batik patterns.
Silk screening is very much like stencilling: a colouring passes through a design on a screen and prints onto the fabric. The screen was originally made of silk, which explains now the process of silk-screening got its name.
The most modern method of printing on the fabric is photo printing. It is frequently used by textile manufactures to create large quantities of printed fabrics.
As machines have taken over more and more of mass manufacturing of fabrics, there has been a renewed interest in hand-made and hand-coloured fabrics. Today, many skilled artists are still involved in long hours of making beautiful fabrics and clothes by hand.
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