Holly Brackmann - home



back to Publications

Cloqué & Deflected Double Weave
By Holly Brackmann

Weaver’s, Issue 44, Summer, 1999, p. 66-67.

Cloqué, from the French term for "blistered," causes cellulose fibers such as cotton or linen to shrink violently, producing some interesting bumps, folds and distortions when woven in combination with other non-shrinking fibers. Cloqué is an industrial technique introduced to American textile artists by joy Boutrup, a textile engineer at the Denmark Design School.

The cloqué technique used for the samples in this article involves immersing the woven fabric in a lye (sodium hydroxide) solution. Natural cellulose fibers such as cotton and linen shrink when exposed to lye solutions but are not damaged. Some types of viscose (rayon) dissolve completely in the process; silk and most synthetics are not damaged and do not shrink.

Cloqué produces results that are more pronounced and is effective with different fibers than wet finishing alone. (see Vicki Masterson’s article "Texture with Deflected Double Weave," Weaver’s, issue 44, Summer, 1999, p. 64-65).

Deflected Double Weave
Open or loosely woven fabrics work best with cloqué, since they allow fibers to shrink and more. Deflected double weave (see Weaver’s, issue 44, Summer, 1999, p. 54-58) is an ideal structure for this technique. Long floats connect loose areas of plain weave in two distinct layers. A fiber that shrinks can be used for one of the layers, causing the fiber in the other layer to move and contort. The float areas allow maximum movement to occur.

The samples shown here are woven using the deflected double weave draft. The warp for one of the layers is 302 natural silk sett at 40 epi (4 ends in each block) and for the other 20/2 navy blue cotton at 20 epi (6 ends in each block). Weft fibers and treadling orders vary for each sample, both of which affect the resulting distortions.

The Samples
In Sample a the treadling is "as-drawn-in,’ and the same fibers are used in
the weft as in the warp.

Sample b also uses the same fibers for the weft as in the warp but varies the treadling order of the blocks, creating different color interactions.

Sample c substitutes linen for the navy cotton in the weft. Since linen
contracts more violently in lye than cotton, shrinkage is most evident in this

In the lower half of Sample d the weft materials are the same as in the warp; in the upper half poly-metallic threads are substituted for the silk weft. Thetreadling order (d) produces stripes of light-colored wavy fibers that seem to float on a smooth dark background.

Sample e substitutes 4 strips cut from a marbled silk scarf in place of the silk weft to produce a much bolder pattern than in Sample a, which uses the same ‘as-drawn-in’ treadling.

Sample f substitutes gold gimp for the silk in the weft. It shows the most extreme distortions in the weft since the gold gimp does not shrink at all but instead twists and contorts between the areas where it is held in place by the silk warp. Both Samples c and f use the same treadling order but look very different because of the rigidity of the gold gimp weft in contrast to the softness of the silk weft.

The Cloqué Process with Lye
This is a dangerous process and should be used with extreme caution. Fabrics are immersed in a 20-33% lye to water solution. Lye is extremely caustic and great care must be taken to protect eyes, hair, skin, and nails. Wear goggles, an apron, respirator, and gloves. Add the lye gradually to the water in a plastic tub (approximately 12 oz. Red Devil brand lye to 2 cups of water).

The mixture will become very hot due to the exothermic chemical reaction. Allow the solution to cool below 70 degrees F. before using.

Put the lye tub within another tub of cold water to cool the mixture more quickly. While still wearing your goggles, gloves and respirator, place the fabric in the lye solution, and watch the immediate shrinking action. Hold the fabric over the lye solution and squeeze out the excess lye solution. Place the fabric in a second plastic container filled with running water to rinse thoroughly.

Take care to avoid splashing. Finally, place the fabric in a third plastic container filled with 2 teaspoons acetic acid to 1 gallon water. The acid solution will neutralize the residual lye. The fabric will feel slippery until the lye has been neutralized.

Once the slimy feeling is gone, wring out and rinse the fabric in running water. Leftover lye can be used again, but should be properly labeled and covered when not in use. Lye must be very diluted before putting down the drain, followed by an acetic acid bath to neutralize the drain.

To learn to work with lye solutions, it is best to take a workshop in the technique and become familiar with safety precautions and proper handling.

Originally published with weaving drafts and photographs in
, Issue 44, Summer, 1999, p. 66-67.
Reprinted in The Best of Weavers; Fabrics That Go Bump, XRX, Inc.,
2002, p. 94-95.



Home GalleryPublicationsBioLinksContact

707.462.5734 • holly@hollybrackmann.com