January 4th, 2006

The Librarian

Hologrammatic fabric

I have a query for the fabric experts. I purchased this vest at a secondhand shop, liking its complex design/colours, shimmer, perfect piped edges, and old brass buttons. Wearing it for the first time today, I discovered this morning, thanks to the mirror, that the fabric has a hologrammatic quality ... there are black wreath/fern designs that appear/disappear depending on the angle one views the fabric at. Looking at it more carefully tonight, I can see that the static sections of the fabric have a satin weave while the changing sections are in a standard weave ... the base of the thing is really just a two-colour damask (I'm guessing that it's reversible; the vest is fully lined, so I can't see the back of the fabric to be sure); the warp threads are very fine and are alternating black with cream or white, while the black weft thread is thicker, creating tiny ridges in the weave. These ridges alternate black and light. The result is an effect similar to the old 2-image old hologram cards that you tilted to see a different picture ... at some angles, one can see the leaf patterns as a faint grey (because both colours of weave ridge are visible) ... changing to different angles makes the patterns pop out in black or completely disappear. A complex red, blue, gold, and black design was stamped onto the fabric after weaving, dyeing the cream threads and enhancing the effect. Photos from different angles are behind the cut, so you can see what I mean.

But first, the query. Is there an official name for this nifty fabric trick? (yeah, I know I could spend ages with a stack of library books on fabrics, looking it up, but you guys are SO handy and greater founts of knowledge and fabric miscellanea than any ol' book ... plus one has to know the NAME of a thing to use an index or a Google search).

P.S. Pictures 3 & 4 have the most accurate colour.
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EDIT: I'm adding this link to a piece of illusion knitting, which operates on a two-colour ridge construction which is similar to the non-satin sections of the vest fabric. Now, try to use your imagination to picture a multi-coloured design stamped onto this knitting, which further disguises the "illusion" (and completely hides the stripes) from some angles, but allows it to show at others.
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The Librarian

For those who've been missing Heather Mallick ...

... here's an "extra" column that was published in "The Rabble" after Mallick left the Globe and Mail. Mallick's columns were always reprinted here after their official appearance in the Globe ... this final piece was Rabble-only.

And, according to the note at the end of the column, Mallick is now writing for the New York Times Syndicate. :-) Hopefully whoever finds her new location/schedule first will share with the rest of us.