What is Barkcloth?
What is Barkcloth?
The question “What is bark” is not as easy to answer as it may seem at first glance. Over the years, the term barkcloth has been used to describe several different types of cloth, so the answer really depends on which time period and which part of the world you’re talking about.
Original Bark is literally made from the bark of trees. To make this type of bark, the inner bark of certain types of trees (mostly trees of the Moraceae family) is pounded and formed into sheets. These sheets are then used as a primitive fabric in many different applications.
If you hear the term barkcloth used today, however, it most likely refers to a different type of fabric all together. From the 1930s to the 1960s (and even into the early 1970s), one of the most popular decorating fabrics was also known as bark. In this case, the term barkcloth refers to the fabric of the fabric, which is thick, fluffy and slightly textured. Barkcloth got its name because the texture of the fabric slightly resembles the bark of a tree.
Barkcloth fabric is often made from cotton, although it can also be made from other fibers, including linen, rayon, polyester, and fiberglass depending on how old the fabric is. Although thicker than standard cotton, the bark is surprisingly soft and drapes well, making it a great choice for draperies and curtains. Because of its thick texture, the bark is also quite durable, which also makes it suitable for use as an upholstery fabric.
In the 1970s, the bark’s popularity faded. However, there is currently a great resurgence of interest in this beautiful fabric and it is becoming quite popular again today. Some of the most desirable prints include atomic prints from the Eames era, as well as soft, pretty florals with a cottage feel.
Today’s crafters have really taken advantage of the durability, versatility, and beauty of vintage bark and are repurposing it into a variety of cool projects. You can find vintage wood used to make pillows, bags, lampshades, quilts and many other beautiful items to enhance various home decorating schemes.