RELIEF PHENOMENA.

Ordinary features.—The relieved surface characters of fabrics resulting from construction and available for decoration are more or less distinctly perceptible to the eye and to the touch and are susceptible of unlimited variation in detail and arrangement. Such features are familiar to all in the strongly marked ridges of basketry, and much more pleasingly so in the delicate figures of damasks, embroideries, and laces. So long as the figures produced are confined exclusively to the necessary features of unembellished construction, as is the case in very primitive work and in all plain work, the resultant patterns are wholly geometric and by endless repetition of like parts extremely monotonous.

In right angled weaving the figures combine in straight lines, which run parallel or cross at uniform distances and angles. In radiate weaving, as in basketry, the radial lines are crossed in an equally formal manner by concentric lines. In other classes of combination there is an almost equal degree of geometricity.

When, however, with the growth of intelligence and skill it is found that greater variety of effect can be secured by modifying the essential combinations of parts, and that, too, without interfering with constructive perfection or with use, a new and wide field is opened for the developmental tendencies of textile decoration.

Moreover, in addition to the facilities afforded by the necessary elements of construction, there are many extraneous resources of which the textile decorator may freely avail himself. The character of these is such that the results, however varied, harmonize thoroughly with indigenous textile forms.

To make these points quite clear it will be necessary to analyze somewhat closely the character and scope of textile combination and of the resultant and associated phenomena.

We may distinguish two broad classes of constructive phenomena made use of in the expression of relieved enrichment. As indicated above, these are, first, essential or actual constructive features and, second, extra or superconstructive features.

First, it is found that in the practice of primitive textile art a variety of methods of combination or bindings of the parts have been evolved and utilized, and we observe that each of these—no matter what the material or what the size and character of the filamental elements—gives rise to distinct classes of surface effects. Thus it appears that peoples who happen to discover and use like combinations produce kindred decorative results, while those employing unlike constructions achieve distinct classes of surface embellishment. These constructive peculiarities have a pretty decided effect upon the style of ornament, relieved or colored, and must be carefully considered in the treatment of design; but it is found that each type of combination has a greatly varied capacity of expression, tending to obliterate sharp lines of demarkation between the groups of results. It sometimes even happens that in distinct types of weaving almost identical surface effects are produced.

It will not be necessary in this connection to present a full series of the fundamental bindings or orders of combination, as a few will suffice to illustrate the principles involved and to make clear the bearing of this class of phenomena upon decoration. I choose, first, a number of examples from the simplest type of weaving, that in which the web and the woof are merely interlaced, the filaments crossing at right angles or nearly so. In Fig. 291 we have the result exhibited in a plain open or reticulated fabric constructed from ordinary untwisted fillets, such as are employed in our splint and cane products. Fig. 292 illustrates the surface produced by crowding the horizontal series of the same fabric close together, so that the vertical series is entirely hidden. The surface here exhibits a succession of vertical ribs, an effect totally distinct from that seen in the preceding example. The third variety (Fig. 293) differs but slightly from the first. The fillets are wider and are set close together without crowding, giving the surface a checkered appearance.

Fig. 291. Surface relief in simplest form of intersection

Fig. 291. Surface relief in simplest form of intersection.ToList

Fig. 293. Surface relief produced by wide fillets set close together

Fig. 293. Surface relief produced by wide fillets set close together.

Fig. 293. Surface relief produced by horizontal series crowded together

Fig. 292. Surface relief produced by horizontal series crowded together.