Although today seen mainly through black and white footage, the 1950's were a seminal and culturally vibrant period in American history. The McCarthy trials and the Cold War would exert a powerful influence on both public and private life for many years to come. A new generation of movie stars was replacing the old. Rock and Roll was born. And the cultural stage was being set for the drama of the sixties.
During this same period many artists began to align themselves with what would be called the Beatnik Generation; stressing nonconformity, they reached their zenith in the poetry, painting and sculpture that defined the 50’s.
Not content to be overshadowed, another type of artist also had an iconoclastic bent. These would be the textile designers whose imaginations were fired by the turbulent times in which they lived. Fabric was their canvas and they drew from the most vibrant color palette to create bark cloth prints that are as immediate today as they were fifty years ago.
Granted, it might not sound exciting to know that your father’s upholstery is back in style. But allow yourself to take a look and you’ll find the charisma of bark cloth is impossible to resist. Our array of bark cloth fabrics includes retro/vintage and floral/tropical prints. You'll also enjoy browsing our Retro Upholstery fabric section as well as our Retro Decorative fabric section.
Uses for Bark Cloth
Bark cloth also has a gentler, more practical side to it. For instance, its versatility let’s you make drapes, pillows and furniture upholstery. Projects such as seat cushions and slipcovers are ideal ways to use our bark cloth decorator fabrics.
Crafters can use these designer fabrics to make handbags and other accessories. Bark cloth is also suitable for garments such as ladies’ hats and jackets. It can also be seen covering hat boxes, lampshades, photo albums and luggage.
Caring for Your Bark Cloth Fabrics
Care depends on fiber content, fabric finishes, and use. Most of our bark cloth fabrics should be cared for under the guidelines of cleaning code S. Decorator fabrics with this code require spot cleaning with a mild, water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. Water based cleaning products could leave water stains. Follow the usage direction for such products and make sure that the area you are cleaning in is well ventilated. Avoid products that contain carbon tetrachloride, which is highly toxic. Always test the cleaning product on an inconspicuous area of the fabric before proceeding. If the bark cloth fabric requires more extensive cleaning, we recommend calling in professional upholstery cleaners.
How to Store Bark Cloth
Another part of keeping your bark cloth fabrics in good condition is proper storage. You may have some leftover fabric after completing your project or may simply want to have some extra fabric for later. Whatever the reason, you can increase the longevity of your bark cloth fabrics by storing them correctly.
First, before storing your fabrics have them properly laundered to prevent dust, soil and stains from attracting critters. The best storage area is a cool, dark room with sufficient air circulation to prevent mold growth. Avoid places such as attics, basements and other places that tend to be vulnerable to mold, mildew, insects and other threats. Always store your decorator fabrics out of direct sunlight.
Next, it is important select how you are going to store the bark cloth. Bags of linen, cotton and muslin are ideal choices. Avoid plastic bags, cedar chests and cardboard boxes. Fumes from polyurethane foam, cedar closets and acids in unvarnished wood and cardboard can damage these fabrics. Acid free tissue paper can also be employed in the storage of bark cloth fabrics.
If possible, store your bark cloth fabrics on rolls rather than folded to prevent difficult creases from forming. If folding the fabric is your only option, try to air the fabric out and refold it regularly to prevent permanent creasing.
More and more modern designers are using vintage bark cloth as inspiration for today's textiles. So why not share in the bark cloth renaissance and decorate your home with this perennially modern fabric? *
* The above information is intended to aid our customers in their fabric projects. These suggestions are based on manufacturer's recommendations and customer insights. The above statements are not intended to be understood as unequivocal or applicable to every circumstance. Therefore, J&O Fabrics is not responsible for the results of the implementation of these cleaning methods.