1. The wearing away of any part of a fabric by rubbing against another surface.
2. UK standard for abrasion is a Martindale test carried out on a Martindale machine
2. US standard for abrasion measured on a Wyzenbeek machine.
*please note Martindale and Wyzenbeek are not compatible.
The propensity of a fabric to take in and retain a liquid, usually water, in its pores and interstices.
A manufactured fibre formed by compound of cellulose, refined from cotton linters and/or wood pulp, and acedic acid that has been extruded through a spinneret and then hardened.
Man-made, resin based fibre created to look like wool that has a soft hand,
is resistant to wrinkles and sunlight, and can be easily dyed and washed.
A natural hair fibre obtained from the Alpaca sheep, a domesticated member of the llama family.
The hair of the Angora goat. Also known as Angora mohair. Angora may also apply to the fur of the Angora rabbit.
A reversible satin-weave fabric with satin floats on the technical face and surface slubs on the technical back created by using slub-filling yarns. It is usually used with the technical back as the right side for drapery fabrics and often made of a blend of fibres.
A pattern designed with different colour diamond shapes knit into a fabric.
1. Fibres from this plant are made into raw pulp which undergoes a viscose-like process.
2. A rapidly renewable resource, grown without pesticides or chemicals, that is naturally antibacterial.
Also known as Panama Weave. A variation of plain weave in which two or more yarns are woven together in both warp and weft directions
A textured woven, usually printed cotton fabric that was popular in the 30s-40s and 50s as an interiors fabric. The prints were often large vines, leaves and florals.
A traditional wax-resistant dyeing technique.
The bias direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other.
A novelty yarn characterized by rough loopy knots
A patterned fabric, made with two different fibres, whose effect is produced by destroying one of
the fibres through a printing process which employs chemicals instead of colour
A preliminary process in spun yarn manufacture in which impurities and very short fibre pieces are removed and the remaining fibres are separated and smoothed into a thin web of condensed material
Cashmere is wool from the Cashmere goat.
Cellulose; this fibre processed to make cellophane and rayon, and more recently Modal, a textile derived from beechwood cellulose
A novelty yarn with a pile protruding on all sides
Chintz is calico cloth printed with flowers and other devices in different colours. It was originally of Eastern manufacture.
Cutting away the floating portions of supplementary yarns to allow the remaining
loose-cut edges to be used as a part of the design
A trial fabric wherein numerous options of colour, yarn, etc., will be woven together in sequence
Colours that will bleed or fade very easily from washing. Specifically, a textile's ability to maintain its colour without running or fading.
A set of colours to be used in a design; multiple colourways are often given for one fabric
1. Natural fibre from the white fluffy fruit of the cotton plant
2. Graded by length, brightness, colour and purity
3. Dyes well, is strong and soft to the touch, and cleans well because it absorbs water easily
4. Untreated, it wrinkles and shrinks
A seed pod that when ripe splits open exposing seeds covered in cotton fibres
Cradle to Cradle
A set of design and manufacturing protocols that aims to reduce or eliminate ecologically harmful waste
Fabric composed of two or more different fibres with varying dye affinities dyed to achieve a multi-coloured effect in a single dye bath
Extremely stain resistant, Crypton fabrics also provide breathable comfort, act as a moisture barrier, add strength and durability to the fabric and are engineered to provide antibacterial protection
Cut and loop pile
A combination of cut ends and loops of pile yarn creating a variety of surface textures
A pile cut during manufacture by means of cutting wires or by a reciprocating knife blade, as in double plush or dress velvet, or cut in a separate finishing operation, as in corduroy, velveteen, knitted velour or cut-pile tufted carpet
1. A group of jacquard-woven fabrics in which the pattern is created by contrasting satin weaves
2. Originally a rich silk fabric with woven floral designs made in China and introduced into Europe through Damascus, from which it derives its name. Normally produced on a Jacquard Weave.
The process of removing the sericin (gum) from raw silk by boiling in a soap solution
Denim denotes a rugged cotton twill textile.
A type of loom on which small geometric patterns can be woven
A woven double cloth in which the layers are joined only at pattern changes, space between the two layers of cloth are called pockets
Double weave is a type of advanced weave. It is done by interlacing two or more sets of warps with two or more sets of filling yarns.
1. A character of fabric indicative of flexibility and suppleness
2. The degree to which a fabric falls into graceful folds when hung or arranged in different positions
how durable a fabric or yarn is.
This complete liquid barrier is a total-block backing that is laminated to the fabric. It provides comfortable cushion protection where required, combined with optimum spill and stain prevention and clean ability
A colourant that chemically interacts with fibres
1. Ability of a fibre to be stretched, extended, or lengthened
2. Provides "give"
A technique usually involving pressure and/or heat that creates a three-dimensional surface pattern
An example of the decoration of fabric or leather ground with needle-worked accessory stitches made with thread, yarn, or other flexible materials that is either done by hand or machine.
The way a fabric will be applied by the consumer, for example in apparel, furnishings (residential and contract), medical, industrial, military, or other uses
A type of velvet fabric woven on a wire loom or épinglé loom. The épinglé velvet is notable in that both a loop pile and a cut pile can be integrated into the same fabric. The art of épinglé weaving in Europe originated from Lucca (Italy) and later came to Venice and Genua, which is where the term Genua velvet comes from. The technique of épinglé weaving is still used today in the Flemish region of Kortrijk and Waregem. The fabric finds it application mostly in upholstery, although in medieval times it was used as apparel for princes and kings as well as for bishops, cardinals, and the Pope.
A kind of weaving machine whereby steel rods are inserted in a top shed which is formed over the bottom shed in which the weft is inserted. The steel rods are inserted into the fabric every second or third pick by a separate mechanism that is synchronised with the weaving motion. The same mechanism also extracts the rods from the fabric. If the rod carries a cutting blade at the tip the warps that are woven over the rods are cut, creating a cut pile effect. In case the rod has no blade, then the warp ends from a loop pile. Alternating cut and loop wires create cut and loop pile in the fabric. This weaving technology is used for weaving velvets for furnishing and apparel applications. These fabrics are known as 'moquette' or "épinglé' fabrics. This kind of weaving machine is also used for weaving carpets where it is known as a 'Wilton loom'.
1. Woven fabric made of wool or a wool blend that is heavily fulled and shrunk so the yarns become closely interlocked, making it almost impossible to distinguish the weave
2. Nonwoven sheet of matted material made from wool, hair, fur or certain manufactured fibres
The fundamental component that is used in the assembly of yarns, including cotton, wool, silk, nylon, and polyester
Long, continuous fibre strands of indefinite length, measured in yards or even miles, normally associated with man made fibers.
1. Slender annual plant that produces bast fibre (linen)
2. Oldest textile fibre known
A type of velvet where in Jacquard patterns are woven into the ground fabric and where the pile is made of a combination of cut and uncut (loop) pile. This fabric is also known as Venetian velvet, or more generally, as épinglé velvet. In the actual terminology of furnishing fabrics it is mostly named with its French name "velours de Gênes".
This kind of fabric is made on a wire loom or épinglé loom.
A topical finish that utilizes 7-10 less fluorocarbons than similar finishes and releases no VOC emissions. The technology is based on amorphous silica nano-particles that permanently adhere to a fabric in a mesh network that prevents particles from becoming airborne. The manufacturing process also requires lower temperatures, and therefore less energy, compared to similar finishes.
Fabric that has received no preparation, dyeing or finishing treatment
1. Characteristic of fabric that is perceived by touching, squeezing, or rubbing
2. Properties of hand: flexibility, compressibility, extensibility, resilience, density, surface contour, surface friction, thermal character
The main uses of hemp fibre are rope, sacking, carpet, nets and webbing. Hemp is also being used in increasing quantities in paper manufacturing. The cellulose content is about 70%.
Having an affinity for water
Tending to repel water
Ikat is a style of weaving that uses a tie-dye process on either the warp or weft before the threads are woven to create a pattern or design. A Double Ikat is when both the warp and the weft are tie-dyed before weaving.
A type of loom used to produce elaborate designs having intricate weaves
Jute is a long, soft, shiny plant fibre that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. Jute is one of the cheapest natural fibres, and is second only to cotton in amount produced and variety of uses. Jute fibres are composed primarily of the plant materials cellulose and lignin.
1. General term for the process of inter-looping yarns either by hand or machine
2. The fabric made by this process
Yarn with an interesting surface created by inter-looping
Lace-making is an ancient craft. A lace fabric is lightweight openwork fabric, patterned, either by machine or by hand, with open holes in the work. The holes can be formed via removal of threads or cloth from a previously woven fabric, but more often lace is built up from a single thread and the open spaces are created as part of the lace fabric.
Lamé is a type of brocaded clothing fabric with interwoven metal threads, typically of gold or silver, giving it a metallic sheen.
(Also called Gauze Weave or Cross Weave) is a weave in which two warp yarnsare twisted around the weftyarns to provide a strong yet sheer fabric. The standard warp yarn is paired with a skeleton or 'doup' yarn; these twisted warp yarns grip tightly to the weft which causes the durability of the fabric. Leno weave produces an open fabric with almost no yarn slippage or misplacement of threads.
1. The oldest and best known fibre of the bast family, linen comes from the inner fibre of the flax plant stalk
2. Feels and looks crisp
1. A device used to weave cloth
2. A device holding warp yarns in tension to allow the interlacing of filling yarns
1. The amount of light reflected from the surface of a fibre, yarn, or fabric
2. Textiles that reflect a great deal of both specularly and diffusely reflected light are considered to have a high lustre, those that do not reflect much light have low lustre
The Martindale test is a measure of the durability of a fabric. The fabric being tested is pulled taut and loaded onto the lower plates of the Martindale machine. Small discs of worsted wool or wire mesh (the abradant) are continually rubbed against the test specimens in a Lissajous figure - a wandering, oscillating circle. The fabric is continually inspected for wear and tear, and the test ends when two yarns break or when there is a noticeable change in appearance
A double cloth with a quilted or padded texture resulting from stuffer yarns inserted between layers
A long fibre from the hair of the angora goat that is spun into a soft, lustrous, luxurious yarn that is very durable
A surface effect resembling a watermark or wood grain on fabric
Builds permanent spill and stain protection into the molecular structure of virtually any fabric. Easy to clean, it preserves a fabric's beauty and natural hand, while maintaining breathability and comfort
1. A textile structure produced by bonding or interlocking fibres, or both
2. Accomplished by mechanical, chemical, thermal or solvent means and combinations thereof
A yarn with unusual or special effects such as nubs, flakes, loops, beads, or lumps
A man-made fibre that is strong, durable, elastic, exhibits high static and pilling, and has low moisture retention
A design motif resembling a modified oval with both concave and convex curves
1. Synthetic petroleum-based fibre that is durable, resilient, economical, and cleans well
2. Also known as Polypropylene
Also known as Basket Weave. A variation of plain weave in which two or more yarns are woven together in both warp and weft directions
A pile fabric with a longer pile than normal velvet but shorter than plush, the pile is flattened or pressed down by means of heavy roller pressure in finishing, giving the fabric a high lustre
Fabrics that are dyed after they have been woven or knitted
1. Raised loops or other yarns or fibres deliberately emplaced to stand away from the surface of a fabric, forming all or part of the fabric surface
2. The length and thickness vary
The tendency of a fabric, usually synthetic, to form little fuzzy balls in reaction to abrasion
1. A weft yarn crosses over a warp yarn and then under the next warp yarn, with each row alternating the "over" and "under" warp yarns
2. Simplest and most important of the basic weaves, providing the greatest number of intersections in a given space; 3used in about 80% of all woven fabric
Doubling a fabric over into folds and fixing them in place by sewing or pressing
A yarn formed by twisting together two or more single yarns or strands in one operation
Fibre made from petroleum, coal, air, and water that is high-strength, washable, and abrasion resistant, but subject to pilling, staining, and static electricity
Also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications including packaging and labelling, textiles(e.g., ropes, thermal underwear and carpets), stationery, plastic parts and reusable containers of various types, laboratory equipment, loudspeakers, automotive components, and polymer banknotes. An addition polymer made from the monomer propylene, it is rugged and unusually resistant to many chemical solvents, bases and acids
Fibre with high strength, high elongation, and low moisture absorption used for nonwoven faux leathers and vinyls
A long fibre harvested from the raffia palm used to make baskets, mats, hats, and fabrics
1. Soft silk-like man-made fibre that is produced from cellulose (wood chips) and chemicals
2. Also known as viscose
The process of unwinding raw silk from cocoons by placing them in hot water and unwinding the filaments onto a reel to form a single yarn without any twist
S & Z yarns
"Twist" in spun yarns or ropes is often labelled S-twist or S-laid (for left-handed twist) and Z-twist or Z-laid (for right-handed twist), due to the respective left and right of the central sections of those two letters. To visually determine the handedness of the twist of a rope/yarn/etc, sight down a length of it; the direction of the twists as they progress away from you, left or right, reveals their handedness.
Selvage or Selvedge
The term for the self-finished edges of fabric. The selvages keep the fabric from unravelling or fraying. The selvages are a result of how the fabric is created. In woven fabric, selvages are the edges that run parallel to the warp, and are created by the weft thread looping back at the end of each row. In knitted fabrics, selveges are the unfinished yet structurally sound edges that were neither cast on or bound off
Not to be confused with satin. Sateen is a term usually applied to cotton, or sometimes rayon. Sateen produces the sheen and softer feel through the use of a different structure in the weaving process. The sateen structure is four over, one under, placing the most threads on the surface, making it extremely soft, though slightly less durable than other weaves. Standard non-sateen weaves use a one-over, one-under structure.
1. The face of the fabric is formed almost completely of warp or filling floats produced in the repeat of the weave, achieved by spacing the yarn crossover or intersection points as evenly and widely as possible
2. Produces a characteristic smooth surface, employing a great number of yarns in the set that forms the face
A natural, gummy coating on raw silk filaments that makes the silk harsh and stiff and imparts a dull lustre
Sheer is a semi-transparent and flimsy cloth.
Thermoplastic yarn that contracts or shrinks when exposed to heat
A protein harvested from the cocoons of silkworms that is naturally in filament form and when cleaned is fine, supple, lustrous, and exceptionally strong
1. Larvae of moths (caterpillars) that produce a large amount of silk when constructing cocoons before changing to pupae
2. Feed on the leaves of the white mulberry, certain other mulberry species, and the Osage orange tree
Sisal or sisal hemp is an agave Agave sisalana that yields a stiff fibre used in making rope. (The term may refer either to the plant or the fibre, depending on context.) It is not really a variety of hemp, but named so because hemp was for centuries a major source for fibre, so other fibres were sometimes named after it.
Slit film yarn
1. Film slit into narrow strips that may be used as flat monofilaments in spinning, weaving, or knitting
2. Metallic/Lurex yarns are made by this process
A novelty yarn with alternating thick and thin areas
1. Manufactured filaments or staple fibres that are coloured by incorporating pigments in the melt or polymer solution from which they are extruded
2. Provides high levels of colourfastness
Used in outdoor fabrics
A thimble-like nozzle through which the spinning solution is forced to form fibre
The process of producing a yarn from staple fibres
1. Short fibres, measured in centimetres or inches
2. natural fibres, except silk, are staple length and vary from 1.3 cm to 1 meter
A general term used to refer to fibres, yarns, or fabrics including woven, knitted, and nonwoven structures as well as lace and crocheted goods
Supplementary filling yarn or yarns which "float" along the back of fabric in bands, and are brought up in selected areas for added color detail on the face of a fabric
1. Registered trademark owned by Hoechst-Celanese for specialized polyester fibre
2. Trevira CS is fire-retardant
A strong, coarse, light-brown silk yarn or fabric made from cocoons of undomesticated silkworms with filaments that are more irregular and dull than cultivated silk and take dye poorly
1. The filling yarns pass over one or more and under one or more warp yarns in offset progression to create the appearance of diagonal lines
2. Used to produce strong, durable, firm fabrics such as denim
3. Has many variations, such as herringbone and bird's eye
A yarn created by twisting two differently coloured yarns together
Two directional velvet
Velvet with more than one pile direction, each of which reflects light differently, creating dark and light values
1. A warp pile fabric with short, closely woven cut pile that gives the fabric a rich soft texture
2. First made of all silk, many major fibres are now used in this construction
1. A man-made fibre processed from cellulous into a liquid and extruded into filament that is easily dyed and lustrous
2. Used in fabrics with a soft hand that drape well
1. A velvet with a pile raised only in selected areas
2. Designs are created by weaving the pile yarns into the flat weave of the ground
1. The set of yarn elements running lengthwise on a loom and in woven fabrics on the bolt
2. In place before the weft yarns are woven over and under it
A printing method in which only the warp yarns are printed with a design before the fabric is woven. A hazy, greyed effect is produced
1. The set of yarn elements in a woven fabric that runs horizontally, crossing and interlacing with the warp
2. Also known as filling
How heavy the fabric is, generally measured in ounces per square or linear yard
1. Fibre derived from the fleece of sheep
2. In some instances may refer to the fibres from the hair of the alpaca, camel, llama, and vicuña
3. Resilient and may be blended with natural or man-made fibres
A coarse, short staple wool or wool-like yarn that has not been combed
A tightly spun, long staple, fine wool or wool-like yarn that is smooth and straight
1. General term for the process of inter-lacing yarns either by hand or machine
2. The fabric made by this process
Constructed by wrapping a binder yard around a bundle of parallel fibres with little or no twist.
Wyzenbeek; or Oscillatory Abrasion Tester. To determine the abrasion resistance of fabrics when rubbed against a standard abradent or a wire mesh screen with a backward and forward motion over a curved surface.
A continuous strand of textile fibres that my be composed of endless filaments or shorter fibres twisted or otherwise held together
1. Fabric woven or knitted with yarns that have been dyed prior to fabrication of the cloth
2. Commonly used to produce striped, plaid, or jacquard colour effect.
Leather that has had the original surface of the skin removed (usually due to imperfections in the original surface) and a new grain embossed into the leather. This is also called corrected grain. Most top grain leathers have altered or corrected grain surfaces.
A colourless oily liquid made from coal tar used in making dyes and resins in organic synthesis.
Any dye produced synthetically from coal tar products.
Aniline Dyed or Aniline Leather
Leather that has been dyed in a dye bath with some level of dye penetration.
Leather that has been vegetable-tanned mainly by means of tannins from the bark of trees.
Common (usually lower grade) dye colours used in custom coloured leathers that are quickly made. Hides are dyed in advance awaiting the spray application of custom colours.
Blues, in the
The state of hides that have been tanned once using chromium salts. These hides are light blue in colour.
An animal belonging to the cattle or ox family.
An important characteristic of a full grain leather. Due to its intact grain and pore structure, full grain leather breathes. This means that the leather adjusts to temperature and wicks away moisture and body heat, making it very comfortable to sit on.
The process of applying dyestuff to the leather by means of a brush. In this cosmetic process dyes are not saturated into the hide.
Leather from which the grain is removed by an abrasive or bladed cylinder. This process is used in altered or corrected grain leather.
Leather tanned with chromium salts resulting in soft, mellow hides receptive to excellent colour variety.
Leather that receives chrome and vegetable tannage producing suppleness and body in the hide.
Commonly referred to as top grain. Lacking an intact full grain surface. Usually pigmented.
Leather from which the grain has been removed after tanning, by splitting, abrading or other processes.
The application of dyestuffs to leather by the immersion of the leather in a drum that is tumbled. This process allows full dye penetration into the fibre.
Usually corrected grain, in which a pattern is applied by extreme pressure in a press to give a unique design or imitation of full grain characteristics. Sometimes leathers are embossed to make them appear to be another leather, such as embossing an alligator pattern into cowhide.
Enhanced Full Grain
Full grain leather, which has received minor surface alteration to improve grain appearance.
Wrinkles in the grain of leather caused by fat deposits in the animal that create beauty in the leather. Fat wrinkles are not visible in imitation grain leather.
Generally defines a surface application on the leather to color, protect or mask imperfections. More specifically, it refers to all processes administered to leather after it has been tanned.
Leather in which the grain layer or dermis has not been altered. The grain layer gives each type of leather its distinctive appearance.
This defines leather that is full bodied and robust. Also called round hand or full round hand.
The outside of the hide or skin consisting of the pores, cells, wrinkles and other characteristics which constitute the natural texture of the leather.
The natural markings on the surface of the leather.
An artificial grain pressed into the surface of top grain leather from which the original grain has been removed.
A buffing process to raise the fibres on the grain side of a hide or skin to produce a velvet-like effect. This is also known as 'Nubuck' leather.
A leather industry term used to describe the feel, i.e. suppleness or fullness of upholstery leather.
The pelt of a large animal.
The hide from a grass-fed, immature bovine.
An animal hide that has been preserved and dressed for use.
A manufactured product that imitates leather.
This process includes removal of the hair, preparing the hides for the tanning process.
A flat or dull finish.
A process that produces suppleness in hides.
A dyed leather that has received no topical application that may mask or alter the natural state of the leather.
A leather that retains the full, original grain.
Originally the tannage of leather was almost entirely with oak bark, later the term applied to tannage with a blend containing oak tannin. Now, it is loosely applied to any tannage of heavy leather with vegetable extracts.
The upper portion of the hide that has been separated from the reticular or split layer.
Leather with a glossy impermeable finish produced by successive coats of drying oils, varnish, or synthetic resins.
A natural characteristic that develops on full grain leather through normal use over a period of time.
In leather, this is the process of die-cutting small holes to form a pattern. The holes can vary in size, density and pattern.
Leather that has been sprayed with a pigmented, opaque finish.
Untanned or partially tanned cattle hide.
Material composed of collagen fibres, obtained from macerated hide pieces, which have been reconstructed into a fibrous material.
A modifying secondary tannage applied after intermediate operations following the primary tannage to further enrich and enhance the quality of the leather.
A full-handed leather, usually slightly swelled through tannage and fat liquoring.
A most important aspect in producing high quality leathers. Full saturation of tanning, fat liquors and dyes are essential in the production of fine leathers.
Shrunken Grain Leather
A full, natural grain leather that is shrunken to enlarge and enhance the grain character of the leather.
Half a hide cut along the backbone.
Hides that have been cut in half, forming two 'sides' in order to better accommodate small tannery equipment.
Hides are shaved to a particular thickness after tannage by a large shaving machine. The excess is removed from the bottom of the hide.
To slice or split into a thin layer, or to reduce leather to a specific thickness.
The grain surface is abraded with brushes, emery wheel or sandpaper. Leather is snuffed for the purpose of removing defective grain or sueding the surface of the leather.
Leather made from the bottom split, or reticular layer of the hide, which has an imitation grain embossed into a heavily finished pigmented surface to simulate papillary leather.
Cutting leather into two or more layers preparatory to tanning.
Heavyweight, vegetable-tanned leather used for industrial purposes or to support seats and backs on certain types of seating.
A fibrous leather, typically made from the reticular part of the hide.
The process of raising fibres on the grain side of a hide to give a velvet nap effect. This is generally called 'Nubuck' or 'grain sueded.'
The application of dyestuff to leather with a brush; the leather being laid on a table. Also called brush colouring.
Leathers that are not graded.
Any various solvent, astringent substances of plant origin used in tanning leather.
An over-used term commonly used to refer to corrected grain leather. See Corrected Grain.
The removal of the outer edges of the hide not suitable for making leather.
Normally defines aniline dyed, naked leathers with no additional application intended to finish, colour or treat in any way that would alter the natural characteristics of the leather.
A general term for leather processed for many uses including applications, etc.
The conversion of rawhide into leather by use of vegetable tannins. This process produces leather with greater body and firmness than the more general method of chromium tanning.
The weight of leather is measured in ounces per square foot.
Wet Blue Leather
Leather that after chrome tanning has not been further processed and is sold in the wet condition.
A technique of "booking" or gently folding a long section of wallpaper, usually used in reference to a wallpaper border. The section of wallpaper is folded accordion style, gently, without creasing the seams, so that it can be transported efficiently from a work space or water tray to the wall.
Acrylic Coated/Vinyl Coated Paper
These are printed on paper and treated with a coating for durability and washability/scrubbability. These wallpapers are easily maintained and are unaffected by long tern exposure to humidity making them ideal for kitchens and baths.
Bolt (Double Roll)
A bolt is equal to a double roll of wallpaper. Single rolls of wallpaper are not typically sold. A bolt is one continuous roll of wallpaper equivalent to the length of two single rolls.
This refers to a relaxing period where wet, pre-pasted wallpaper or a freshly pasted strip of wallpaper is allowed to rest in a gently folded position. The wallpaper strip is laid on a clean work surface, pattern facing down. The top edge and bottom edge are both folded in to meet at the centre point. During this time, the glue will be activated.
Most wallpaper patterns are available in multiple colours. The colour way is the particular colour of a pattern.
In some cases, such as when hanging wallpaper over paneling, a wallpaper liner will be installed horizontally rather than vertically. This will help prevent the seams of the underlying material to show through.
Named for a molding installed around the room to protect the walls from nicks and scratches from chairs, a chair rail creates an elegant, finished look in a room. Wallpaper, especially wallpaper borders, can create an authentic or a stylized chair rail border. In general, a chair rail is installed at or just above 1/3 the height of a room, or around 32 to 36 inches from the floor in an 8 foot ceiling room.
When installing wallpaper in certain situations, such as when repairing a tear or installing a border around a doorway, it may be best to overlap the wallpaper and then cut through both layers. In these instances, this can ensure the best method for hiding the seams. The extra wallpaper is peeled way and discarded, and any glue is wiped off with a damp cloth or sponge.
Double Roll aka Bolt
The traditional unit of wallpaper that you can purchase is a double roll, also known as a bolt. Although prices are sometimes listed by the single roll, typically only double rolls are available for sale.
This type of wallpaper pattern match will line up at the ceiling line with every other strip. It creates a diagonal rather than a horizontal pattern sequence.
Dye-Lot Number aka Run Number
Also sometimes referred to as the "batch-number" this number refers to each batch of your wallpaper that was printed at one time. Using wallpaper from the same dye-lot number will ensure that your colors match up continuously.
Expanded Vinyl wallpapers are printed with a special ink that expands with heat giving them a raised surface effect known as "blown" creating a soft but dimensionally textured wallpaper. Most "Paintable" wallpapers are examples of an expanded vinyl wallpaper, but also is common printing technique used to create faux effects like bricks, woods and stones.
Free Match aka Random Match
Some wallpaper patterns, such as grasscloth or certain textures, have no particular match at the seams. This type of wallpaper is the easiest to install and will not generate any waste.
Fabric-Backed Vinyl wallpapers have a fabric backing which makes them highly durable. Because of their ability to be bumped and scratched without being damaged, these are most commonly used for commercial jobs where high levels of durability are a must.
Grasscloth wallpapers are hand crafted and unique; made of natural and exotic materials harvested throughout Asia. Grasscloth's create a natural and highly textural look on walls that is understated and timeless. Most grasscloth wallpapers are made of 100% natural materials making them environmentally friendly. It is recommended that stains on grasscloth wallpaper be attended to with clean water a damp white cloth/sponge. Professional cleaning may be necessary.
Heavy-weight Vinyl wallpapers are deeply embossed using a thick vinyl material. These wallpapers offer a very luxurious look and feel and are commonly used in Italian wallpaper manufacturing.
When installing wallpaper on all 4 walls of a room, the "kill point" is the place where the last strip is hung to join the first strip, finishing the project. This will usually result in an uneven pattern match at this point. We recommend hanging the first, and subsequently the last, strip in the least conspicuous area of the room to minimize the effect. This is often the corner behind you when you enter the room.
Available where wallpaper is sold, liner paper is a thick vinyl wallcovering to be installed under decorative wallpaper. These liners are available in a variety of weights to help cover wood paneling, or smooth out rough, damaged, or textured walls. They are sometimes installed horizontally rather than vertically to help hide seams.
The match means the place where the design matches at the seams. Check the back of your wallpaper for the match information. Random match is the easiest to work and will not create any waste when measuring strips as these wallpapers line up randomly at the seams. Drop-match and straight match wallpaper may incur some waste as you have to start each strip at a certain point to ensure the pattern matches up at the seams.
Molded Linoleum wallpapers are used primarily in the Lincrusta Collection. Lincrusta wallpapers are a highly durable and dimensional wallcovering that replicates the feeling of custom molding or paneling which can be top-coated with any paint or stain for desired effects.
Non-Woven wallpapers are an advanced technically improved wallpaper material that was introduced to the market over eight years ago and is fast becoming the preferred substrate for wallpaper. Made of a fibrous material, non-woven wallpapers are easier to install and even easier to remove! They will dry-strip from the wall, usually leaving the wall smooth and abrasion free. Many Non-Wovens are vinyl free making them an environmentally friendly wallpaper option.
Wallpapers printed on paper are not as common as in previous years, but are still present in the marketplace. Paper wallpapers are environmentally friendly and showcase flat inks and designs very nicely, but due to the delicate nature of paper, these wallpapers have proven to tear easily during the removal process.
This is a method of hanging wallpaper where wallpaper paste is applied directly to the wall. This technique saves the steps of wetting a prepasted wallpaper, or rolling adhesive onto the wallpaper strip before adhering it to the wall. Paste-the-wall wallpapering works with unpasted wallpaper.
Peelable wallpapers will peel off the wall, leaving some of the backing behind. The backing can be often removed with soap and water, but sometimes a wallpaper removal solution may be necessary.
Hanging the first strip of wallpaper on each wall straight is key to the success of the project. The plumb line is the line that you create, with a level, to be sure that you hang the wallpaper straight.
Wallpaper must be hung on a properly prepared wall surface and a primed wall is ideal. Priming the wall includes filling in any holes and cracks, smoothing out imperfections and painting the wall with primer.
When wallpaper already has the paste applied to the backing, it is called pre-pasted. This paste on this type of wallpaper is activated by dipping the wallpaper into water.
Random Match aka Free Match
Some wallpaper patterns, such as grasscloth or certain textures, have no particular match at the seams. This type of wallpaper is the easiest to install and will not generate any waste when cutting new strips.
The distance of the vertical recurrence of the pattern or part of the motif in the wallpaper pattern. Patterns with no repeats (like textures) will have little waste, but larger designs (with repeats above 21") may require more wallpaper because there is more waste because you need to match the pattern from strip to strip and can lose up to the pattern repeat on each strip to match them properly.
Run Number aka Dye-Lot
Also sometimes referred to as the "batch-number" this number refers to each batch of your wallpaper that was printed at one time. Using wallpaper from the same dye-lot number will ensure that your colors match up continuously.
The process of perforating old wallpaper so that wallpaper removal solution can penetrate the backing is known as scoring. Special tools, such as the paper tiger, are designed to roll over your walls, making small holes in the wallpaper.
Scrubbable wallpapers can be scrubbed with a brush or sponge, which implies a high level of durability. You can use a soap or mild detergent on scrubbable wallpaper.
This is an optional wallpapering tool used to tack down wallpaper seams together.
A single roll of wallpaper is a quantity of wallpaper equal to half of 1 bolt. Most wallpaper is only sold in double rolls.
Like primer, sizing is a liquid that can be painted onto walls to prepare them for wallpaper. It creates a uniform porosity so that wallpaper glue will adhere evenly. Sometimes the terms priming and sizing are used interchangeably, although sizing is a different product. With the quality of today's primers, sizing is rarely necessary.
Solid Sheet Vinyl
Solid Sheet Vinyl wallpapers are printed on a 100% vinyl material and are commonly embossed to give them a luxurious textural effect. These wallpapers are quite durable and are usually scrubbable, making them easy to clean and maintain. They are also peelable which means the wallpaper will peel off the wall easily, leaving some of the backing on the wall, which can typically be removed with soap and water or in some cases a wallpaper removal solution may be necessary.
Each strip of a straight match wallpaper pattern will match up at the ceiling line, creating a horizontal pattern sequence.
Strippable wallpapers can be dry stripped from the wall without leaving any backing behind. These are the most removable papers in the market and usually are printed on a Non-Woven substrate.
Wallpaper that comes without any adhesive pre-applied to the backing is known as un-pasted wallpaper.
Washable wallpapers can be lightly cleaned with a sponge or a damp cloth. You should take care when cleaning washable wallpapers, but if you are gentle, they should clean easily.
Wipe with a damp cloth
These wallpapers should be washed gently with great care, they are more fragile than others and you should be careful cleaning.
In the lexicon of Chinese carpenter, cabinet maker and furniture dealers various terms and names of woods and construction techniques are unique and apply solely to the Chinese Furniture tradition. In the Chinese tradition words like hardwood and softwood, have different meanings to that which we subscribe to them in the West. In the West hardwood is a description that is used to describe those trees that are deciduous and annually lose their leaves, while softwoods describes the conifers and pines.
In Chinese, the term hardwood is used to denote the tropical hardwoods found in South East Asia known as yingmu in Chinese used to construct the most of the surviving Ming style furniture. The 17th Century Chinese Scholar Qu Dajun lists 20 (hard)woods used in furniture construction hailing from Hainan Island alone, calling them wenmu, though this might be a reference to the figuring of the wood's grain. Softwoods on the other hand are placed under the broad heading of miscellaneous woods, in Chinese zamu.
Little Ming dynasty furniture survives made solely of un-lacquered softwoods probably due to a number of factors, such as the relative expense of the imported hardwoods compared to softwoods which resulted in the hardwood furniture being repaired or the constituent woods recycled, and the softwood furniture replaced. Woods such as Jumu, nanmu and others are all recorded in the contemporary texts, but because they are less insect resistant and less resistant to rot than hardwoods means that in general they did not survive. However it was common practise for the back and interiors of furniture, such as the back panels of cabinets and the sides and bottoms of drawers to be made of softwood. Softwood was also the most favoured material for constructing furniture that was to be lacquered or in the rare occasions when the furniture maker used veneers.
Confusingly, the Chinese did not use a definitive botanical categorisation system that identified trees by species and genus, so that so long as the wood of various trees meet the criteria for the facets required, even different parts of the whole tree could be labelled as different woods. Also the literal English translations of the Chinese names do not necessarily help us to make sense of the word and therefore the wood; for example, peach wood is called taomu, walnut wood is called hetaomu ( black peach wood). However, I have tried to identify the hardwoods and softwoods by species and genus where possible given the current state of the scholarship available on this matter.
Hardwoods have had the benefit of a lot of academic research to determine the precise nature of the wood, its origins and history. However because of the inexact nature of the Chinese names used, categorical definitions are not always possible. The following is a distillation of our current knowledge.
Huali is one of the most desirable of all Chinese furniture timbers, with most of the finest furniture of the Ming and early Qing periods being made from it. Furniture made of Huali was at one stage in the 1560's was counted less valuable than that made from the humble elm, but by the later Qing period, supplies of the wood became very scarce and later furniture using huali is uncommon. A characteristic of the wood is the ghost eyes 'guananjing' in the swirling grain of the wood, which was highly prized as it was believed that the 'eyes' had the power to ward off malign influences and ill fortune.
Today, the 20th Century term Huanghuali, is used by dealers, and this has become the most common descriptive term of the patina and the mellowed yellowish brown colouration of the wood of first choice and preference for most collectors. Huali literally translates as Flower pear, huanghuali is literally yellow flower pear.
Identified in a 14th Century text as being native to the Southern Barbarian Regions as well as Southern China, India Burma, island of Sumatra, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Genus Pterocarpus and Dalbergia latifolia and Ormosia henryi
Considered by the Chinese to be the most precious of all woods, it has been known in China since the 3rd Century AD. The grain is very close and the wood is very dense, so dense in fact that it sinks in water and was a common source for red dye. The mania for zitan in the late 1600's Century lead to large scale felling of the trees in China itself and resulting the cutting of even immature trees that has lead to its near extinction. Qing dynasty officials were sent as far as the South Pacific islands to supervise the felling. The Imperial Court even resorted confiscating privately held supplies to enable the Imperial workshops to have a monopoly the supply of this precious wood. In early 1700's it was selling for its own weight in silver in the Philippines.
Zitan is generally accepted to be not a single species, but a number of different species with varying colour and grain. Furniture dealers identify three different types of zitan. Gold star (jinxing), rooster-blood (jixue) and huali grain zitan. Zitan translates as purple sandalwood. Native in the areas identified by the Chinese as the Southern Barbarian regions today's Indo-China and Thailand and also the Philippines and China's own Guangxi province that includes Hainan Island.
Genus: Dalbergia Santilinus and Pterocarpus indicus (in the Philippines called tindalo), and perhaps a species of Leguminosae
Translates as Chicken Wing Wood so named because of its fine feathery grain of alternating dark and light lines, when sawn to expose the tangential grains. However Jichimu was not solely from one source of timber, in deed might be from seven different species. Jichimu has since the Tang dynasty had been given in tribute to the Imperial Courts. More commonly used in the Ming period for furniture, by the middle of the Qing period it was rarely used for large pieces of furniture, but more commonly for smaller pieces. Also known in Chinese as xiangsi, most commonly from the hongdou (red bean).
Native to the Guangxi, Hubei, Fujian and Sichuan regions of China.
Genus: Ormosia hosiei (Red bean tree) and also Cassia Siamea
Literally red wood, commonly called Blackwood in South China. Is the most common of all the hardwoods and is predominately found in late Qing furniture, with no references recorded earlier than this period. In South China it was also commonly called suanzhi - sour bough ( wood ) because of the pungent sour smell when it is cut and worked
The tallest of all the hardwood trees, it is the least expensive of the hardwoods. It also known as shiyan and tieleng and is called ironwood in English. The wood is hard and durable, with a dark red pith and a fine a beautiful grain. Its colour and grain bear some resemblance to jichimu, but it has a courser texture and a more open grain and less contrasting feathering.
Tielimu was also commonly used for furniture as a secondary material for the less visible areas of the furniture such as the shelves, the sides and bottom of drawers and for the bottom of cabinets. In addition because of its large timbers it was commonly used in the construction of buildings and bridges.
Genus: Messua Ferrea
Ebony is a very dark wood with a fine texture and depending on the species the colour varies from jet black to black ,grey and brown streaks. The timbers from ebony are small because of the very slow growth of the trees. It is not uncommon some of the sap wood to be visible when used on furniture. It is most commonly used to accent a piece made predominately from other timbers and for smaller scholars objects. Hubanmu is similar to Madagascan Ebony and is recognised by its 'tiger striped' grain.
Below is a representative sample of the major woods that where used by local artisans to make furniture for their customers. These artisans had to rely of the woods available in the local environs. A survey carried out in Hebei province in the 1930's recognised some 130 species being native to that region and 55 of those species were used locally for making furniture. Little research has been carried out on softwoods compared to hardwoods, and the state of current knowledge is therefore less exact, however the listing below is a good working brief.
Nanmu is a large slow growing tree of the evergreen laurel family and not as has been commonly thought, cedar. It has a pleasant light even colour, it seldom expands or contracts and is considered one of the finest softwoods. Indeed Nanmu was subject to several Imperial mandates along with zitan to regulate its use. Some pieces of Ming and the early Qing periods are constructed solely of this wood, but it was more commonly used in combination with a hardwood. It has the many more knots in the grain than any other wood except huamu ( birch burl wood ). Nanmu burl, which is a major material for Ming and early Qing furniture comes from the roots of these massive trees found in the western part of Sichuan province
Genus: Phoebe nees
Camphor is an evergreen whose trunk can exceed 32 metres in height and 5 metres in diameter. The tree thrives in the provinces ion China's south-east coast, in particular Fujian and Taiwan. It is also native to Jiangxi, Hunan and Hebei province. Zhangmu was considered a valuable wood for its odour that repels insects, and as a result is most commonly found in furniture that was used to store clothes, furs and carpets.
Genus: Cinnamomum camphora
Jumu and Yumu
Jumu (Southern Elm) and Yumu (Northern Elm) are excellent woods for furniture, the wood is strong and dense, with a beautiful colour and interesting. The older trees of a reddish colour are called xueju which literally translates as 'blood juice'. The woods are relatively easy to differentiate; Yumu has a more open and wider, darker and more pronounced graining than Jumu. Jumu's tighter grain means the wood is slightly more dense and harder than Yumu. Elm has long been used as a furniture wood and it is recorded in the contemporary Ming texts, as being a valued and valuable wood.
The woods characteristic large grain, is called 'pagoda pattern' by carpenters in Suzhou, and it looks like the ranges of mountain peaks one finds in Classical Chinese landscape paintings. Yumu is more commonly found in the northern provinces of Shanxi, Sha'anxi & Hebei, whilst jumu is more commonly found in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui Provinces.
Genus: Yumu - Zelkova. Jumu - Ulmus
Boxwood grows in Central China, and the freshly cut and worked wood changes to a light greenish yellowy brown as it ages. It has a fine and very dense grain that is difficult to saw but easy to work. Very many scholars objects and carvings were made with it, it is very rare to see the wood being used to construct large pieces of furniture such as chairs.
In Chinese the term huamu is used interchangeably for birch and birch with burl-like graining and it is also used to describe all burl woods. Burl wood can be found from elm, camphor, cedar cypress and willow. Swirl grained huamu is often cut into large boards for table-top panels or door panels on round corner cabinets. It has a fragile grain and as a result the joined boards are highly likely to split over time. The wood is quite dense and as the tree grows the wood changes colour from an off white colour to a reddish brown colour.
Southern Cypress some times called huangbai because of its yellowish brown colour. This is deemed to be the best cypress for making furniture, as the wood is dense and has an even texture and a pleasant fragrance when worked. Some early pieces are made entirely of this wood, while other pieces use it for minor parts, making it an important secondary wood, valued for its ability to resist warping and cracking.
Genus: Cupressus funebris
Zuomu, Gaolimu, Malimu
Over 140 different types o oak have been recorded in China, although it is an ideal wood for furniture making, it is not very commonly found. Oak is a strong wood with a light coloured textured wood with tapering dark coloured flecks of 1 to 2 centimetres and some feathering reminiscent of jichimu. Gaolimu is also known as Korean wood, Gaoli being the Chinese for Ancient Korea, and was used extensively in the Yongzheng Imperial workshops. Both decidious and evergreen oak was used.
Genus Decidious: Quercus Serrata, Q. mongolica, Q. Acutissima. Evergreen:- Cyclobalanopsis
Commonly termed zhazhen or zhajing, this furniture-making wood is associated with the mulberry species. Furniture made from zhazhen wood is commonly found in the Subei region of Jiangsu. The wood is dark reddish-brown and layered with coffee-colored tissue; it has a fine grain pattern with medullary rays visible in the radial cut. The material is of medium density, but has low resistance to decay.
Walnut is a beautiful wood with a small tight grain. It is not a common furniture wood, such pieces that are found are generally worth a premium. Hetao literally translates as 'black peach'. Most of the best walnut furniture comes from Shandong and Shanxi Provinces. Walnut was used for many examples of Qing period furniture sourced from the Shanxi region, which generally demonstrate refined workmanship; earlier pieces are extremely rare. Walnut is easily confused with nanmu, however, the surface of walnut tends to have more of an open-grained texture, and the color tends more towards golden-brown or reddish-brown when contrasted with the olive-brown tones of nanmu. Furthermore, their freshly worked surfaces each emit a distinctive fragrance.
Locust or scholar tree initially appears quite similar to northern elm. In the Northern Song architecture treatise Yingzao fashi, locust and elm (yu) were categorized "miscellaneous hardwoods" of similar sawing difficulty. However, locust is appreciably more dense (.79-.81 g/cm3), and the surface is more coarsely textured.
Locust is distributed throughout China, however the best is considered to come from northern China. Aside from its noted density, the timber is hard and very strong. The pores in the early wood can be relatively large; the grain is relatively straight but unevenly textured. It is relatively easy to dry, with little warpage; however, it tends to develop large cracks. After drying, the wood is quite stable and naturally resistant to moisture and insect damage. It is difficult to cut and to surface; however, afterwards, it reveals a lustrous surface.
Other softwoods include, Taomu - Peach, Fengmu - maple, Shanmu - Fir, Baisong mu - White pine, Huangsongmu - Yellow pine, Shuisongmu - water pine, Qiumu - Catalpa, Duanmu - Linden, Songmu - Pine, Yangmu -Willow, Limu - pear, wutong/baotong - paulownia, shimu - persimmon. Other fruitwoods were used but identifying the actual trees that they came from is difficult, and such furniture is generally labelled as just fruitwood.
No listing of materials that were used for making traditional style country furniture would be complete without including Bamboo ( a grass, not a wood ) so much a part of Chinese culture. Indeed it was common for hardwoods and softwoods to be carved to imitate bamboo. Bamboo, was one of the most accessible materials available in the environs of China's towns and villages for use by local artisans and their poorer customers for furniture construction.
Mountainous regions were also areas where bamboo is extensively used such as Shanxi province, although not poor region in the Ming and early Qing periods because of the regions salt mines, is a source of much of the bamboo furniture found today, most of it being 18th Century. Curiously 19th Century furniture is harder to find as the construction techniques used were less robust. The top surfaces of the bamboo pieces such as an altar table would generally be black lacquered softwood. In addition to being used to construct chairs, side and altar tables, it was commonly used for food storage cabinets. One should however be aware that there is a lot of very clever and convincing reproductions of bamboo furniture purporting to be old, but are in fact new.
Paktong, or baitong hardware was commonly used for reinforcement and decoration. Paktong is essentially a brass alloy with a 5-10% nickel content with imparts a silvery luster and retards the tarnishing which is typical to brass. Metalsmiths were a specialized trade distinct from woodworking carpenters. It is not uncommon for the metal of furniture to be replaced or to have been lost. Metal was an expensive component of the furniture and was used sparingly. Hence the common practise of using wood hinged doors on many pieces of furniture.
Decorative stone was used as a secondary material for table top panels, decorative inlay panels, and impressionistic screen panels. The natural imagery revealed in a slice of geological time often revealed abstract landscape scenes or figures. Soft decorative stone such as marble or serpentine were commonly used; agate panels were also used, but much more rarely
Woven Cane Seats
Soft, woven seats were traditional to Ming and early Qing furniture, although the use of hard seat panels is occasionally noted in early examples. Aside from its pliable support, the airiness of the woven bed frame was especially comfortable during the hot summer seasons. With regard to chairs, the customary use of woven seats gives way to increasing use of hard-panel seats during the 18th and 19th centuries, and old soft seats were also occasionally replaced with maintenance-free hard panels during this period.
Seat weaving was a specialized tradition, and itinerant specialists facilitated their frequent repair and renewal. Soft seats were produced in several traditional styles. Occasionally, processed animal tendons were used to weave an extremely pliant matting. Woven-rope and leather-strip seats were common to folding stools and folding chairs. More commonly, an underwebbing of twisted palm fibre was woven through the holes in the seat frame, after which, split cane was woven directly on top.
The craft of weaving cane has all but disappeared. Modern recaning continues using the underwebbing technique, however, the finely woven mat has been replaced by sheet matting that is cut to size and simply pinned into the holes with softwood wedges. The fibre and cane, having been soaked for several hours before weaving, dries to a taught, yet elastic seat panel.
TYPES AND FORMS OF CHINESE FURNITURE
Chinese furniture evolved a full vocabulary of shapes during the Ming dynasty, expanding upon those developed during the previous Song and Yuan dynasties. The Qing dynasty saw the introduction of more elaborate decoration throughout the regime. The new regime wanted to break from the austere style of the Ming dynasty, and the elaboration of ornament on the Qing period pieces grew with time, and was influenced by the French rococo style with elaborate carvings of entwined leaves, shells and other floral motifs. It is not disputed that Qing furniture is well crafted, the joinery, carving and polishing is of the highest quality. But, by the late Qing dynasty, the form of Imperial and the Literati taste furniture had almost been overwhelmed by detail, so much so, that in comparison to the Ming style, the many of the pieces lack grace and fluidity.
Meanwhile in the non-rarefied atmosphere of the rest of China, the Ming style lived on for most of the rest of the population. Only the more common hardwoods such as tielimu, hongmu were available, together with the softwoods that the majority of the Chinese artisans were used to using.
The softwoods necessitated the use of less elaborate joinery, to ensure that the furniture was sturdy, strong and up to the day to day wear of the environment that they would find themselves. This meant, that tenons rather than being disguised, would be longer penetrating the joined wood and leaving the tenon exposed, that compound mitred joints would not have the multiple redundancy that might be found furniture made at the Forbidden City's Luban workshops.
This does not mean that the country furniture did not have decoration and detailing, in later pieces the detailing can be quite elaborate. Pieces from Shanxi are quite often found with highly exaggerated detailing and expressive ornamentation, as an attempt was made to give the impression of a more refined taste and status. Generally, however the forms remained closer to the Ming style. In many cases, the softwood forms directly echo those of the hardwood, which considering the average carpenter did not have a manual to work from but relied on the rote learnt instructions of their apprenticeship, is a remarkable testament to their abilities.
Stools and Chairs
Square, rectangular and round stools.
Called wudeng in Chinese, the original meaning of the character is a tree without branches, and the meaning has since come to mean a backless seat or stool, and is a term used in Northern China.
The basic forms of waistless stools have straight legs and stretchers. They may be square or rectangular and vary greatly in dimensions. Many variations of spandrals occur including plain ones and those carved with cloud-like motifs. When there is no apron, short pillar shaped struts may be added. In addition to straight stretchers there are humpbacked stretchers. The ends of the stretchers are joined to the legs by a double mitre, or they may go around the outside of the legs as if wrapped around them, a construction which simulates bamboo furniture. Some waistless stools have base stretchers.
The waisted form of stools has straight legs terminating in inward-curving horse-hoof feet, with either straight or humpbacked stretchers. Stools with crossed stretchers can only be considered a variation of this simple form. Besides straight legs there are cabriole, or s shaped legs. The outward curve of the apron and leg can end in an inward-curving horse-hoof foot. Base stretchers maybe found on waisted stools, and sometimes the legs stand on a continuous floor stretcher with separate small feet.
The drum stool ( zuodun ) is also called an embroidery stool ( xiudun ) because many of them were used with a piece of square embroidery placed on the top surface with coins weighting the embroidery's corners. Most Ming and early Qing drum stools still bear vestiges of rattan stools and wooden drums. The openings in the sides are derived from the circular openings in rattan stools. The string mouldings and round bosses are echoes of the nails by which the hide was attached to drums.
Folding stools are known as jiaowu, or commonly as mazha, and are direct descendants of the ancient cross legged stool called a barbarian seat ( huchuang ). The folding stool originated in the Western regions in the Eastern Han period ( AD 25-220 ) and has been widely used in China for more than a thousand years. Its basic form consists of eight straight pieces of wood has not changed through the ages.
Benches (changdeng) come in many forms in the Ming and Qing periods, from benches for one to benches, for 3 or 4 people. Benches can be found that are devoid of all decoration to those that are quite ornate. Some from Shanxi province come with everted flanged ends and carved ornamental panels. Benches are most commonly found in pairs.
Benches and stools were offered to those of lesser rank or status, visiting someone of higher status, who did not warrant a chair but did warrant more than kneeing on the floor.
Ming & Qing chairs maybe divided into various types; side chairs i.e. without arms - (kaobeiyi), armchairs with curved backrests - ( quanyi ), folding chairs ( jiaoyi ). Another kind of is known as a lamp hanger chair ( dengguayi ) because of the resemblance of its rather high, narrow back to the hanger of a bamboo hanger.
All chairs with a back and armrest, except for the armchairs with a curved rest and the folding chairs are called armchairs. There are three main forms, one is quite low, with the back and armrests at right angles to the seat. In north China this form is called a rose chair ( meiguiyi ), the reason for its name is obscure., in the South it is called a writing chair ( wenyi ) because the literati liked to use it for that purpose. Since it is a rather light and easily portable chair with a back that does not obstruct one's vision, it can be put anywhere in the room. Its disadvantage is that the top rail is across the middle of the user's back so that the chair is only suitable for use while writing and is not comfortable for resting.
If the top rail and arms have protruding ends the chair is called an official's hat armchair with four protruding ends (sichutou guanmaoyi ). If the top rail and arms do not protrude, it is called a southern official's hat armchair (nanguanmaoyi ).
Armchairs with curved back rests ( quanyi ) appears in the Qing regulations, in the Ming period this type of chair was simply known as (yuanyi - literally round chair ). In the West they have become known as horseshoe arm chairs. The back of the chair flows down to form arms in a smooth and graceful curve. This type of chair is very comfortable since the user's upper arm and elbow is supported.
The development of a chair culture necessitated the development of the rest of Chinese furniture, tables were a natural development, and there are various different types, all of which have different uses.
A feature of houses in north China is the kang, a chair level bed that is also used for daytime sitting. Kangs were built in against the wall, and are hollow made of wood or bricks. In poorer households the kangs are made of unbaked clay with a brick top. The brick and clay kangs' are heated by fires, which circulate hot air in the spaces beneath the kang, thus warming the entire platform.
The development of kangs led to its own range of low furniture consisting of tables, cupboards and shelves. There are three kinds of kang table. The wide kang table - kang zhuo - was most often placed in the middle of a kang or bed. Narrow kang tables - kangji - tend to be used on the two sides of a kang.
Kang furniture can be found in all woods with Shanxi kang furniture found often made of bamboo, with lacquered softwood tops.
Wine Tables and Half Tables
Wine tables and half tables are two kinds of comparatively small rectangular tables. Wine table can be traced back to the Five Dynasties period and the Northern Song, when they were often used at social gatherings. On most, along the edge of the top there is a water-stopping moulding to prevent spilt wine and food getting on to the user's clothes.
Half tables, a term used in ancient texts, derive their name from the fact that they are half the size of an eight Immortals table. They are also called extension tables (jiezhuo), as they are used to extend the Eight Immortals table that are not large enough for their intended use.
There are many extant square tables. Square tables may be large, medium-sized or small and are known as Eight Immortals tables (Baxianzhuo), Six Immortals tables (liuxianzhu), and Four Immortals Tables ( sixianzhuo ). These tables had a number of uses for both eating at and also for games such as Mahjong or Chinese chess. In formal settings, long altar tables are often fronted by a square table flanked by 2 chairs.
Painting Tables and Writing Tables
There are four kinds of large tables. In construction and form many are identical to narrow rectangular tables with corner legs and narrow rectangular tables with recessed legs, but are wider.
If these tables were narrower, they would not be convenient for the user to wield his brush while painting or practising calligraphy, or even to open his books to while reading, and could not be called a painting or writing table. Painting tables with corner legs and painting tables with recessed legs are designed so that the user can stand easily at them to paint and write.
Tables with drawers are named by their construction: wide writing tables with drawers and corner legs, or writing tables with drawers and recessed legs.
Shelves and Cabinets
There are four types of shelves and cabinets found in the Chinese furniture tradition.
Shelves - jiage - are also called bookshelves ( shuge or shujia ). The basic form has four legs and open shelves without ornamental openings and drawers. The three tiered shelf opn on four sides with two drawers is close to the basic form. In order to decorate the shelves, ornamental railings are frequently added to the back and sides. The back may consist of a board or be left open. Sometimes a four sided inner frame or arched-shaped inner frame may be added to the back and sides, or just the sides.
Some shelves have a latticed back and other have lattice on three sides, these shelves generally serve as food cupboards. In Beijing, the colloquial term for such a cabinet is qisimao ( vexing the cat ). These everyday kitchen cabinets are usually made of unfinished wood or bamboo. They aren't always used as food cabinets, examples are found in Buddhist temples and ancestral halls' storing religious texts and ancestral tablets, and the literati used them for storing books and antiques and these cabinets are generally larger and made from hardwood and the better softwoods.
Display cabinets - lianggegui - is a combination of shelves and cabinets. In most Ming display cabinets the shelf is above the cabinets, thus the piece functions as both a display and storage cabinet. Display cabinets have a standard form which consists of a cupboard with open shelf above resting on a separate low stand.
For some explicable reason round-corner cabinets - yuanjiaogui - are also called noodles cabinets (miantiaogui). The top of this type of cabinet, which protrudes slightly on three sides is called the cabinet's cap ( guimao ) and usually has rounded corners. The reason why the top protrudes is so that there is enough space for the door pivots and mortises. These cabinets are also called wood hinges door cabinets ( muzhumengui ). All round- corner cabinets have a clear splay, and when placed together with waistless furniture, which is similiarly splayed, the effect is pleasing to the eye.
Round-corner cabinets without a central moveable stile are called yingjimen. Some have a central stile. The doors of the small round-corner cabinets extend right to the base stretchers without any hidden compartment. When there is a hidden compartment, it is placed under the doors, adding additional interior storage space. A door may be made from one piece of wood, or divided into sections and named according to the number of horizontals, or mortise-bearing frame members.
Square-corner cabinets have no splay and may or may not have had a central removeable stile. Those with no upper part are called square-corner cabinets. These forms can be found from small low cabinets to large imposing pieces.
If there is an upper part they are known as compound wardrobes in four parts - dingxiang ligui sijiangui- because a pair of the wardrobes come in four pieces. This kind of cabinet varies greatly in size, from ones designed for kangs, to large ones that may be 3 to 4 metres high.
The square corner cabinet is commonly used to make the so called wedding cabinets. These cabinets lacquered red with or without painted decoration, and were given as part of the dowry gift, and can be easily recognised. Different regions had variations to this theme and cabinets from Zhejiang and Shanxi are very different.
Beds without railing are called daybeds - ta. Beds with back and side railings are known as Luohan beds (luohanchuang ). Stone balustrades called Luohan railings ( luohan lan'gan ) are often seen in Beijing gardens and even more commonly on bridges; these railing have no posts between the panels. Similarly the railings of a Luohan bed, unlike that of a canopy bed, have no posts between the panel, hence the possiblilty that the name was derived from the term Luohan railings.
The base of the bed can be made in different ways and maybe waisted or waistless. It not only resembles a daybed but also has some similarities to kang tables and even rectangular stools. The railings of Luohan beds exist in many variations; when the railing is formed of three pieces the bed is called a three-paneled screen bed (sanpingfengshi ). If the railing has five pieces, back being made up by three pieces with the two single side panels, it is a five panel screen bed in Chinese (wupingfengshi).
One can also find seven-panel screen beds (qipingfengshi), where the back is made up of 3 pieces and the side panels made up of 2 pieces each.
When Occident meet Orient in the late 18th and 19th Century, the idea of the desk as we know it firmly took hold. Writing desks with drawers did not belong to the tradition of the Chinese Scholar; writing and painting were done on large flat drawerless tables - painting tables - on which the scholar could spread out his various painting materials, while precious items and important documents were stored in separate wooden boxes.
The majority of writing desks which still survive were in spired by Western needs and design influences in the 19th Century. They were mostly made in the 'Treaty port' cities such as Shanghai, or in nearly traditional centres of furniture manufacture such as Soochow. A large number of desks were made for the export trade to the West. One of the most popular styles was a three or four-drawer desk with a platform fretwork of cracked ice or geometric design fixed above the hoof feet.
For the Chinese market desks were made to be 'collapsible' and were made up of three or four pieces, which were used often in the offices of wealthy Chinese merchants. They tend to be large functional pieces with abundant storage in drawers and cupboards set in the legs. Many of them however would retain the distinctly Chinese feature of a foot rest. This feature, so common in most Chinese furniture is designed for elevating one's feet away from the cold stone or earth floor. They also provide a handy space for stacking an overflow of books or papers while not interfering with more functional aspects.
In addition to desks made for export or for use in the 'treaty port' cities, there were 'indigenous' desks. These desks served the function of a writing table on journeys, and was a symbol of the status of the scholar. these traveling desks were made of three parts a flat plank top supported on two pedestals, sharing the same basic design as the traditional 'box & board' painting table and it was easily transported for use by a Mandarin working as a magistrate on his circuit.