08 May 2018

New "18th C" Ikea duvet cover—"Hässleklocka"

"Hässleklocka" duvet cover (photo: Ikea)
This duvet cover is in Ikeas mid price range, and has a slightly higher thread count than the discontinued "Ljusöga" duvet cover. It has 18th century potential, and was probably inspired by period fabrics (if it was more of a reproduction, I think Ikea's website would say so, like for the "Sprängö" duvet cover).

Edit: It's nice to see a print in just red/pink tones for a change—though as usual, the shades are a bit different from period print. 18th century block prints often did incorporate a lighter and darker shade of red.

At first I thought this was a two-tone print, but zooming in I noticed that there are actually three different shades. I haven't seen that in period prints...

Leafing through my reference books looking for monochrome block prints using multiple shades of red, I didn't spot any in Linda Eton's "Printed Textiles 1700‒1850" nor Susan W. Greene's "Wearable Prints, 17601860". But, from a distance this design does look similar to copperplate printed fabrics. Plate-printed fabrics seem to have used hatching and similar techniques for shading, doing it all in one go, while in block prints each shade of color was printed separately, so close up it's probably easy to tell the techniques apart. The "Hässleklocka" print is in the same style as the plate-printed curtain dated c. 1780 on page 219 of "Printed Textiles 1700-1850". Eaton says on page 24 that copperplate printing dominated the high end of the market in the second half of the 18th century, so this duvet cover may represent a high-end fabric.

Finally, I also noticed that there are curtains in the same print (in both red/pink and a blue colorway), but unfortunately the fabric is 70 % polyester and 30 % cotton.

The local perspective

My impression, based on Henschen's book, is that copper-plate prints were very rare in 18th century Sweden. While some fabric printers were interested in the technique and one of them finally got a privilege for it in 1794, it didn't result in any actual production, and there were import bans on printed cottons so it couldn't be legally imported either.

For Swedish use, I suggest the red/pink colorway is a reasonable representation a two-tone red block print. The Swedish book "Kattuntryck" by Ingegerd Henschen has photos of such a print on pages 36‒37, dated 1776. We seem to have had more of the low-end prints here in Sweden (block prints with just one or two colors cost less than multi-color prints at the time), which might explain why I couldn't find an example in the other books.

I'll definitely check out these sets on my next trip to Ikea!

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