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Jacquard: what does it mean?
Jacquard: what does it mean?


Jacquard – what is it?


Europe in need

As always, money and passion rule above all else. In the beginning of the XIX century, the entire European textile industry endured a great crisis due to mass imports of textiles from India. This meant that handmade products, which required talent, time, and experience, became too pricy to produce. Looms stood still and it was decided that the entire process would need to be revamped. For this undertaking, a large number of mathematicians and weaving technologists were hired and among them was one named Joseph Marie Jacquard.


Jacquard’s loom

In 1801, he presented the fruits of many years of labour: Jacquard’s loom, which enabled the mass production of complicated textiles and ended the crisis. The loom was controlled (programmed) with the use of perforated cards. This was the same technology that would be used 100 years later by American engineer Dwyer to record census data. His company would later be merged with another to become IBM.


10 million weaves

To understand why the production of jacquards requires such complex calculations, you could imagine the following situation. Let’s take a look at our textiles, suits, curtains, tablecloths, etc. If the threads are sufficiently thick, we can see a picture of the fabric’s weave or how the threads are arranged. When arranging two intersecting threads we have two options: we can either place the first thread below or above the second. This is a binary arrangement. We can say that 0 = above and 1 = below. Simple right? Now let’s imagine several thousands of these arrangements. On average, 1 metre of fabric of medium thickness contains over 10 million of them. 10 million arrangements, each thread being on top or on the bottom and our looms can produce textiles in which each thread can have either position at any given intersections. Now add to that the fact that we have more than two threads and more than one colour of thread. We might need a computer here :)


In the pictures kilim – Geisha inspired by XIX century wood engraving by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. And a fragment of the recipe of weaving a forest, which is a byte map of that area of the project.

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