Create by destroying, burn out.

Burn-out technique for creation of transparency.

This article describes the process and fundamentals for the application of the burn-out technique on cellulose fibre,aimed at modifying the fabrics with aesthetic purposes. In short, it shows the burn-out technique application for creation of transparency, emphasizing on the fabrics requirements for a good application.

The burn-out or devoré is a technique that starting with a fabric with a specific and uniformed capacity of covering generates areas of minor covering capacity with respect to the rest of the fabric, using this effect as an aesthetic resort. In the field of clothing it is applied to generate located transparencies and other aesthetic effects. In home textiles it is used mostly in curtains.

It is necessary that the starting fabric has at least two types of fibres, one that must be capable of being burnt-out, that means, affected by the applied chemical reagents, and another that must be resistant to these reactive chemicals.

Thus, the technique consists in the selective destruction of specific fibres in concrete areas of the fabric, respecting the rest. This is done by applying the reactive chemicals, to which only some of the fibres are sensitive, in the area to be treated. Otherwise, continuity solutions would be generated, that is,holes in the fabric.

This way, it will be possible to eliminate the attackable fibres, normally integrated in the fabric as spun threads formed by one or more types of fibre, giving place to two possibilities:

  • If the threads are monocomponents and attackable by the reactive chemicals applied, it will be generated in the treated area a reduction of the count, number of threads of warp and weft by square inch of the raw fabric, as the treated or attacked threads are eliminated, an area of a lesser covering capacity is generated. The original fabric will have to have non-attackable threads in the same position of those who have been attacked or eliminated, in order not to generate continuity solutions or lack of specific component of the fabric, warp or weft, in the treated areas. The example later presented is a fabric of monofilament polyester in weft and warp, to ensure the integrity of the fabric and fibranne, spun viscose, in weft, that corresponds with the thread that is eliminated from the treated areas during the process.
  • If the threads are multiple components, that is to say, more than one type of fibre, normally one attackable and one that is not, when applying the treatment it will be generated a reduction in the titles of the threads, as part of them will be eliminated and therefore, in the grammage and the covering capacity of the fabric in these treated areas.

It is commonplace the use of fabrics composed on the one hand by filament yarn, either natural or manufactured, that are not attacked during the treatment, with the purpose of ensuring the continuity of the fabric, with the minimum covering capacity, and on the other hand, by cellulosic or protein spun threads of a greater covering capacity that are those usually attacked or burnt-out.

As typical examples silk-cotton,polyester-cotton and polyester-viscose mixed fabrics are to be pointed out.
An example of the complete treatment at laboratory level upon a fabric with the following structure: warp of monofilament of polyester and weft composed of polyester monofilament and spun thread of fibranne (spun viscose). The fibranne is the cellulosic component that will be eliminated with the chemical treatment. The fact that the polyester is found as much in weft as in warp is due to the necessity of ensuring the integrity of the fabric as being otherwise, we would eliminate the weft completely.

The application of the reactive chemicals by a stencil drawing, so after the design, the stencil was generated, eliminating from it those areas to be treated (burn-out), as it can be seen in image 1.

Image 1:Generating of the stencil

Once the stencil is completed, it is placed on the fabric to be treated,see image 2, and it is followed by the application of the reactive Chemicals. In this case, the application is made with a paintbrush,see image 3, as it is laboratory test; to an industrial level the most usual would be to do an application by means of a silk-screen printing.

 Image 2: Placement upon the fabric of the stencil

Image 3: Application of the burn-out paste upon the fabric.

Afterwards it follows the removal of the stencil, leaving the design stamped on the fabric as shown on image 4.

Image 4: Fabric in which the application of the burn-out paste has been applied.

In this case it was used as burn-out paste, a paste whose active principle generates acid with the temperature, not having any effect on the fibres if not enough heat is given to the said acid. For that reason, it was applied an industrial iron to 220º approximately during 1 min. to the surface of the fabric.
Image 5 shows the destruction by carbonization of the cellulosic fibres to which it had been applied the burn-out paste. See image 6.

Image 5: Applying of heat to the fabric

Note how the treated areas darken with the progressive applying of heat.

Image 6: Fabric with the application carbonized areas

Finally, we proceed to the cleaning in order to eliminate the carbonized fibres, obtaining the result that can be seen in images 7 and 8.

Images 7 and 8: It can be noticed the lack of covering or transparency generated in the treated areas, which are practically transparent, being sharply noticeable the elements behind the fabric.

We can conclude after seeing the treatment as a whole, that it is a technique of elimination or selective destruction at the service of creativity.

José Ignacio Pérez Tormo
Photography Paqui Cases
Translated into English by Alicia Hergueta and Edu Grao


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