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Velvet Etching
Fiber Etching

Fiber Etching/Devoré

Betty McCartney

Fiber etching is the process of removing cellulose fibers with a chemical medium to create a design on fabric. The process generally is used on composite fabric having cellulose and non-cellulose fibers, i.e. silk/rayon, poly/cotton. A variety of implements may be used to create the designs; foam or bristle brushes, stencils, silk screens, fine-tipped squeeze bottles, etc. This process also is known as devoré or burn-out.

  1. Laying a towel on the work surface, then covering it with plastic sheeting, which was taped in place, prepared the work surface. The fabric was taped to the plastic, pile side up, to secure it.     
  2. A stencil was placed over the velvet pile and held securely in place while applying the etching compound with a stiff bristle stencil brush. A strong downward motion was used to force the solution evenly into the pile.    
  3. The fabric was allowed to air dry completely. This is important so that there is less possibility of holes developing in the following step.    
  4. The fabric was processed in an electric clothes dryer set on High for approximately 10-15 minutes to activate the etching compound. (The etched fibers become brittle and come off when scraped with a fingernail.)    
  5. The brittle pile was thoroughly brushed away with a stiff brush, and then the fabric was washed in the washer with mild soap (Synthropol).    
  6. The fabric was dried in the dryer to restore the pile.

The charmeuse sample was handled in the same manner as the velvet, with this exception: a silk screen was used, with a squeegee to apply the etching solution by drawing it across the screen two or three times to ensure penetration. "Fiber Etch" by Silk Paint Corporation was used for the etching on the velvet sample. The charmeuse was etched with a homemade compound of P-4.