How is a good product manufactured?
Guide-lines for evaluating the quality of a tapestry
or a border
In the vast weaving sector not all products are the same.
In evaluating carpets for example, there are some guide-lines to
understand if we are looking at a quality product or not: they are
represented by the number and size of the weaver's knot, and the quality
of the material used.
Also in the world of tapestry not all works are of the same quality,
and this explains the huge difference in prices, sometimes very conspicuous,
between one tapestry and another. The criteria to be considered when
evaluating the merit of a tapestry or a border are:
the raw material used
the manufacturing process
the quality of colours and designs
The raw material used to manufacture the fabric is generally the "American
cotton I". The best products, however, are made by the "combed
and singed MakÚ cotton" which, thanks to its properties, is able to
give more precision and flexibility to the product.
The fibre of this cotton can be made into thinner yarn than the "American
I" cotton: this ensures the production of smaller weaves, but a greater
covering of the plot. In fact it is used with double yarns, which guarantee
the best relation between volume and covered surface. Moreover, two yards
of MakÚ cotton 50/2, have a lower weight than an American I yarn 30/2,
and they are more resistant.
The tapestries represent scenes and subjects taken from plain cloths,
they all share the brightness and richness of colours.
In reproducing these masterpieces the main limitation is the low number
of colours which may be used at the same time.
Generally, we can choose just one combination of seven colours (in the
"cord of drawing in draft"), this guarantees faster preparation for weaving
on the one hand, but on the other, it doesn't allow a good reproduction
of the details and the colours of the original masterpieces.
The manufacturers which produce the best tapestries, use different combinations
of cords of drawing in draft (therefore more coloured yarns). These are
used in different parts of the tapestry for maximizing the number of available
colours and obtaining many gradations.
In the cheapest tapestries it is not unusual to observe some lines inside
the design. This is due to the low number of bobbin changes to the creel
that powers the beamer, which doesn't allow enough gradations to be attained
when passing from one colour to another.
When working the warping band, the use of many combinations of colours
requires the creel to be recharged many times: this is a particularly
burdensome operation in terms of production time. For this reason, the
best colour qualities bear heavily on production costs.
The quality of colours and designs
Excellent quality raw material and the use of a wide variety of coloured
yarns, won't allow a valuable quality to be produced if "Jacquard cards"
haven't been used, created with an attention of equal quality!
The "cards" are punch cards which reproduce the design thanks to a
type of binary code which tells the Jacquard machine the way in which
the loom should work.
A significant part of the best tapestry producers assets certainly
depends on the quality of their cards, which often date back to the end
of the 1800's or beginning of the 1900's, made by craftsmen of unquestionable
ability and passion, without the harassment of respecting strict production