Quilts & Coverlets
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  • Artist unidentified
  • Probably England
  • 1785–1790
  • Linen and cotton
  • 96 x 93 in.
  • American Folk Art Museum, gift of a Museum friend in honor of Laura Fisher, 1995.13.3
  • This pattern has been identified as Bamboo Trails, and it was produced by Bromley Hall, the well-known English textile manufactory. The fabric is a linen and cotton mix, printed using an incised copperplate. In this method of direct printing, the intaglio design in the plate is filled with the coloring agent. Pressure forces the fabric into the grooves and the color is transferred. Indigo, however, oxidizes immediately upon exposure to air, and a new method was needed to apply indigo in its paste—and insoluble—form and then reduce it directly on the fabric. Around 1785, a process called China Blue was devised that accomplished just this. Ground indigo, mixed with gum and a small amount of copperas, was transferred to the fabric from the copperplate. The cloth was then dipped alternately in a copperas vat to reduce the indigo and a lime solution to dissolve it. When it was brought into the air, the indigo oxidized directly on the cloth and the pattern was fixed.