What is Ikat and How is it Made?
IKAT. You’d have to be folded up in your pull-out sofa to miss the popularity of this textile.
Ikat inspiration board from the studio of textile designer Laura Singh of Color Loom.
Ikat (pronounced “ee-kat”) is a loom-woven textile created by a remarkable process.
A master weaver first ties bundles of warp threads in precise patterns to prepare for colored dyes. A more intricate resist-dyeing technique like tie-dyeing, tied patterns must accurately match the planned fabric design.
Next the weaver secures the dyed warp threads to the loom and checks for accuracy.
Then he weaves the weft thread through, and the fabric design emerges.
Double ikat textiles take even more skill to make. For these, the weaver also bundles and dyes the weft thread in patterns. He then weaves the weft and warp to cross precisely so that colors match up and form the planned motif. These ikats are rich in color.
Because of the handcrafted weaving process, ikats have distinctive feathered edges on the colored areas.
Want to tell an authentic ikat from an ikat-look printed fabric? Look at the reverse side. On authentic ikats, the design goes all the way through since it is woven into the fabric.
And examine the design of a real ikat—no motif is exactly the same—and from a distance the textile has an organic quality that printed versions (with their necessary repeats) can’t duplicate.
During my recent jaunt to Berkeley, I discovered a marvelous place to find the real thing and many other fabulous hand-woven textiles. Just opened, Color Loom (1425 4th Street, near Gillman) is the new retail end of the well-know textile design firm Laura & Kiran.
Trust me; you’ve seen Laura & Kiran’s textiles before. Name a high-end furniture manufacturer or home design catalog and odds are they’ve specified use of Laura & Kiran’s fabrics for some of their furniture.
Husband and wife team Laura and Kiran Singh have been designing ikats since 1982. They often travel to Kiran’s native India where master weavers—whose artistry is passed down through generations—turn their designs into gorgeous textiles. Kiran was nice enough to share with us his photos of the weaving process.
More about the Color Loom store in another post but suffice it to say it’s worth the trip. Sumptuous handcrafted textiles, bedding and accessories, made using traditional techniques but with a contemporary take on the design. And lovely people too.
What’s your favorite type of textile?