Devore at Daniel Lee

Devore at Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee, Central Saint Martins MA Collection, 2011.

Students and graduates often develop their own textiles for their collections as a means of creating something that is uniquely their own. At times this is also a more cost effect way of getting the effect that they want, without having to source and develop more expensive variations.

This is particularly true if the student is able to actually make, dye or print the fabric themselves, though this can be dependent on the facilities available to them at their university or college. At other times it may be more effective and time efficient for them to develop the textile with a specialist who is happy to create small sample quantities.

Devoré is an effect which is often seen on fabric bought by the meter but that can also be done by individuals in a small workshop space or even in a home environment. The basic principle is that it works on a fabric which has different fibre types. A paste is applied which burns away the viscose and cellulose fibres and leaves behind other fibres such as polyester, silk and wool. This means that on a pile fabric such as velvet you will achieve a raised effect, and on other fabrics, depending on the weave of the base cloth you will end up with sheer sections. Fabrics can be bought by the meter specifically for the purpose of devoré, or you could experiment on other fabrics which you believe have the right mix of fibres. Most base clothes come in a white or natural so that you can then dye the fabric to the colour that you desire.

The images above and below show how Central Saint Martins Graduate Daniel Lee used the devoré technique in his MA show. The technique is used in conjunction with screen printing of a different design, so that one pattern is taking away from the fabric and creating a sheer negative shape, while another is adding on top of the fabric and blocking out a positive shape.

The directions below are an excerpt from George Weil: Traditional Craft Supplies». This will give you an overview of the basic process of devoré. It is recommended with all textile products that you use the instructions specific to the manufacturer of the product, however you may want to read other techniques online to pick up tips and tricks along the way as this can help you to troubleshoot if you don’t get exactly the result that you wanted.

Dupont Devorant is package in two containers; a reactant and a paste.

  1. Wear rubber gloves. The reactant powder is a corrosive compound which can cause burns or be a respiratory irritant. The final mixture therefore has the same properties and should be used with caution. To create the devorant paste, mix exactly 15% reactant to 85% paste (or 3 parts reactant to 17 parts paste).

  2. The ingredients must be stirred until completely mixed together. The mixture can be kept in an airtight container for up to 8 days but will no longer work once it becomes too liquid.

  3. Pin fabric to a frame and draw a design using an autofade pen.

  4. Working from the back of the fabric, the devorant can be applied using a brush, stamps, through a silk screen, using screen printing techniques, or from an applicator bottle.

  5. Leave the devorant to dry completely. A hair dryer can be used to speed drying.

  6. To activate the devorant: ALWAYS WORK IN A WELL VENTILATED AREA, as ironing will release an acrid vapour.

  7. Place a cloth between the piece of work and the sole plate of the iron. 
    Iron the dried work on the reverse (the side on which the devorant was applied) on a cotton/wool setting without steam. Iron until a yellowish colour appears on the treated areas.

  8. Wearing rubber gloves, soak the fabric in warm soapy water and rinse. The devorant should now have removed the cellulose fibres.

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