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Textile Printing

block, cylinder, surface, cylinders, wood, fabrics and england

TEXTILE PRINTING. The decorating of fabrics by printing is one of the oldest of the arts. There are evidences that it was prac tised in Egypt 2000 a.c., and it was used in ancient Assyria, India and China. Opinions are divided as to the country of its origin, but there is no question that it came to medieval Europe from India. Rich patterns of both silk and cotton were brought by early traders to the leading ports of Europe and inland. Ger man manufacture appears to have begun in the 13th century. They printed principally silks and linens, and were addicted to gilt and silver designs. In the course of time the art spread to Switzerland, France and England. The print works at Jolty, near Versailles, France, were the first to become famous there. It is be lieved that fabrics were printed in England as early as 1620, but the first record of syste matic manufacture was at Richmond-on Thames in 1690. All this early printing was done from blocks by a method very similar to block printing for books. The designs were cut in the surface of a block, and if many fine lines were desired, the surface of the wood was cut away and thin strips of copper twisted and cut to the required form for the lines, and forced tight into the wood until the top of the copper was at the desired level. If a large solid surface of color was required, it was found better to surface the wood with felt, as it carried the ink better than the wood. That very beautiful results can be had by block printing on fabrics is evidenced by the fact that it is still practised by amateurs as a fad and by a few artistic workmen in large cities. Block printing was long done entirely by hand, the cloth being laid on the inked block, covered with felt or the like and impressed with a mallet or by rubbing. But presses. for block printing be came common in England in the 18th century and continued to be used lone after the cylinder method of textile printing came into use. Sev eral had the idea of printing with a roller, but Thomas Bell, of England, was the first to bring out a practicable cylinder machine, in 1783. His object was twofold, to print several colors at once and to do away with bad joints, which were all too common in block printing, wher ever the pattern repeated. In 1785 he patented

a six-cylinder machine, which was the proto type of the modern cylinder cloth-printing machines. Though vastly superior, the inven tion was accepted slowly, and in 1840 it is re ported that there were but 516 cylinder ma chines in Great Britain as against 14,000 tables for block printing. Engraving on the cylinders was for a long time tedious and expensive, the first radical improvement here being Gormetz's engraving machine in 1828. The pantagraph machine for duplicating patterns on cylinders in enlarged size came in 1834, and thereafter the art of textile printing advanced very rapidly. The patterns or designs are now made on paper and transferred to the cylinders, and either cut in with the pantagraph or etched on copper. They are also. sometimes made in soft steel and later hardened. A modern cylinder textile press has a great central drum around which the cloth travels. About this drum are a series of engraved cylinders with inking apparatus. The cloth is led in from a reel and passes under perhaps six or eight cylinders, receiving a color impression from each, in exact register, and is then led to a drying apparatus, that is commonly an enormous reel, with adjustments for keeping the printed surfaces apart until quite dry. Commonly the colors are put on lightly for surface effect, and in other cases the color is forced through the cloth, so as to get an effect on the reverse side. Most ex quisite printing is done on silks, linens, woolens and cottons, as can be seen by any one who will visit the counters of any large dry-goods store. The tapestries, draperies, figured dress goods, cloths for upholstery, etc., produced by this process are endless, involving all the colors of the rainbow; in fact the perfection attained in the art is truly amazing. Consult Rothwell, 'Printing of the Textile Fabrics' (Philadelphia 1892); United States Bureau of Manufactures, 'Reports' on Cotton Goods (1912); Knecht and Fothergill, 'Principles and Practice of the Tex tile Printing' (London 1912) ; Beaumont, 'Color in Woven Designs' (1912). See TEXTILES; WEAVING.