The term calico (from Calicut, on the Malabar coast, whence it was first imported) is applied in England to white or unprinted cotton cloth, but.in the United States to cotton cloth upon which colored patterns are impressed with the use of dyes, teclr-nically called prints. The effect produced by the printing process is like that of the colored designs brought out by the loom, but with much greater economy of time and labor. The origin of this art, like that of dyeing, is traced back to very remote antiquity, and in some form or other appears to have been practised by nations of little skill in other respects. The aborigines of northern America stain their garments of different colors, which is a rude method of calico printing; while the natives of Mexico, at the,time of its conquest by Cortes, produced garments of cotton adorned with figures in black, blue, red, yellow, and green colors. Pliny's account of the process practised by the ancient Egyptians is particularly interesting for showing the skill attained by them in the art, as also for describing with great conciseness the principle of the common operations: "They take white cloths, and apply to them, not colors, but certain drugs which have the power of absorbing or drinking in color; and in the cloth so operated on there is not the smallest appearance of any dye or tincture.
These cloths are then put into a caldron of some coloring matter, scalding hot, and after having remained a time are withdrawn, all stained and painted in various hues. This is indeed a wonderful process, seeing that there is in the said caldron only one kind of coloring material; yet from it the cloth acquires this and that color, and the boiling liquor itself also changes according to the quality and nature of the dye-absorbing drugs which were at first laid on the white cloth, and these stains or colors are moreover so firmly fixed as to be incapable of removal by washing. If the scalding liquor were composed of various tinctures and colors, it would doubtless have confounded them all in one on the cloth; but here one liquor gives a variety of colors according to the drugs previously applied. The colors of the cloths thus prepared are always more firm and durable than if the cloths were not dipped into the boiling caldron." In the different countries of India the art is practised with various degrees of skill. In some the patterns are drawn with a pencil upon the fabric; while in Mesopotamia, as stated by Mr. Buckingham, blocks are employed for producing an impression, as practised by the English block-printers. The Chi-nese also have long used the same process.
The large chintz counterpanes, called palam-poors, of an ancient East India fabric, are prepared by placing on the cloth a pattern of wax and dyeing the parts not so protected. From India it appears the art was introduced at an early period into Europe; but it never became of much importance till some time in the 17th century, when Augsburg became celebrated for its printed cottons and linens. From this city the art spread into France, Germany, Switzerland, and Great Britain, being introduced into London about the year 1676. Here, being greatly restricted by the opposition of the silk and woollen weavers, it made but slow progress. In 1720 the wearing of printed calico was prohibited by act of parliament, under a penalty of £5 for each offence on the part of the wearer and of £20 on that of the seller. In 1730 it was allowed to be printed, provided the warp was of linen and the weft only of cotton; but even then it was subject to an onerous tax of 6d. per square yard. In 1774 the restriction upon the manufacture was repealed; but a tax of 3d. per yard was continued, which was increased in 1806 to.3 1/2d. In 1831 this duty was repealed; and the art, which had sustained itself under all the attempts to keep it down, now that it was relieved of the burden of paying an average of 50 per cent, on the goods produced for home consumption, suddenly received a great impetus, so that in place of 8,300,000 pieces of goods manufactured in 1830, the production was increased within 20 years to about 20,000,000. The character of the goods was greatly improved, as well as the processes and machinery; while the cost of production was much reduced by the enormous quantities manufactured.
The process of printing had been by wooden blocks, each one of which of a few inches square was applied by hand, impressing a portion of the figure upon the surface in a single color, and another block subsequently applied in the same spot to fill in another portion of the figure in another color. This process was soon nearly superseded by immense machines constructed with the greatest ingenuity, capable of producing 15 or even 20 colors at once with the same precision as in the case of the simpler machines which printed only two or three colors at once, while at the same time 600 or 700 times as many pieces were produced per day as if they had been blocked separately with the same number of workmen employed. The art has been perfected by the highest chemical talent, as well as by the ingenuity of the mechanician and the taste of the artist. Artists or pattern designers are especially employed, whose constant occupation is to furnish new patterns, from which the printer selects those he judges most likely to be popular.
The French artists are admitted to produce finer designs than the English, while the latter nation claims a superiority in the mechanical departments of calico printing. - The preparatory operations to which the cloth is submitted before printing have been in part described in the articles Bleaching and Calendering. Printing involves numerous operations of great diversity, of which but a mere outline description can be here attempted. The colors employed are of two different kinds: first, those which are applied directly to the cloth by blocks or plates upon which the patterns are engraved; such colors are prussian blue, madder lake, indigo, and most of the aniline or coal-tar colors. The second kind are such as are produced by the use of mordants which fix the colors in the cloth; such are madder, cochineal, logwood, sumach, several mineral pigments, and the recently discovered dye obtained from coal tar, artificial alizarine, the mordant being sometimes applied separately, and sometimes mixed with the pigment; in the latter case, as when most of the colors of the first kind are used, the goods are usually steamed. (See Dyeing, and Mordants.) The mordants chiefly used in calico printing are those in which the acid and base are not held together with a very strong affinity, that the latter may readily unite with the fibre of the cloth, or with the substance or portion of the substance which may follow.
The acetates of alumina, of lime, of iron, and of lead are used, the last being the mordant for producing the chromate of lead. Alum, nitrate of alumina, and several of the salts of tin are among the substances which are used as mordants. The old method of printing by blocks is still practised in some parts of the process. The cloth is spread upon the surface of a smooth table covered with a blanket, and receives the impression of the figure, or a portion of it, by the application by hand of the block of wood, upon which the pattern is cut in relief. The surface thus printed varies, according to the size of the block, from 9 to 10 in. in length, and from 4 to 7 in. in breadth. The cloth is moved along the table as fast as printed, and the colors transferred from the block dry upon it, as it is suspended in folds upon rollers. The blocks are sometimes made by raising the pattern with slips of copper inserted in the wood, by which they are rendered much more durable, the frequent applications upon the long pieces of cloth soon causing the wooden blocks to lose the distinctness of outline of their designs. Pins in the corners serve to make small holes in the cotton, which mark the points for placing the block the next time.
A second or third color is introduced into the pattern by using a second or third block, so engraved as to fill in the vacancies left by the preceding. A modification of the block, called a "toby," has been contrived, by which several colors have been applied at once. - A complicated machine, exhibiting great mechanical ingenuity, was introduced into the French printing establishments in 1834, by M. Perrot of Rouen, by which the block-printing process was rendered much more expeditious than by the ordinary hand method. It was named for its inventor the perrotine. Its construction is too complicated to admit of description. As improved in 1844, it printed variously colored patterns on white ground with the utmost delicacy, and with such economy of labor that two men could print in three colors from 1,000 to 1,500 yards of calico daily; an amount of work which with the ordinary block would require 25 printers and as many tearers (assistants for keeping the colors in order to be received with every impression upon the blo.ck). - Copperplate printing was introduced in the works near London about the -year 1770. The designs were cut in the flat plates in intaglio, and the color, applied upon the whole surface, was removed from the smooth portion, leaving it in the sunken parts.
The stuff received it from these on being pressed into them by such a press as is used for printing engravings on paper. The change from these flat plates to a cylindrical form introduced the method called cylinder printing, the greatest improvement that has ever been made in the art, the importance of which can scarcely be overrated. In some of its forms, not the most complete, it is stated that a mile of calico can be printed off with four different colors in one hour, and more accurately and with better effect than by hand blocks. One cylinder machine, attended by one man, can perform as much-work in the same time as can 100 men with as many assistants. The invention of the machine is commonly attributed to a calico printer named Oberkampf, at Jouy in France, and again to a Scotchman named Bell, who constructed one about the year 1785. But Dr. Muspratt maintains that the latter only is entitled to the credit of it, and that " cylinder printing is purely a British invention." The copper cylinders are from 30 to 40 in. in length, and from 4 to 12 in. in diameter.
They are turned from a solid piece of metal bored through the axis, and the pattern is imprinted upon the surface from a steel cylinder called a mill, upon which the pattern is impressed, before the steel is hardened, from another steel cylinder called the die, on which the design has been engraved in intaglio, as the copper finally receives it. The pattern is complete around the circumference of the roller, and each revolution of this exactly repeats it. In large calico print works the engraved copper rollers constitute a very important item in the investment of the capital, the value of the stock of these held by some of the larger print houses being rated even as high as $200,000. The value of a single one is often from $25 to $30. These cylinders, one for each color to be applied to the cloth, are set in a strong frame against the face of a large central drum, made of iron and covered with woollen cloth in several folds, between which and the engraving cylinders the calico is printed as it passes.
The color is spread upon the rollers by their revolving each one in contact with an attendant roller, which dips into a trough containing the coloring matter or the mordant properly thickened; thus the engraving rollers receive the color, and impart it as they revolve to the calico pressed between their face and that of the fixed drum. The superfluous color is taken cleanly off by a sharp blade of steel or other metal, against the edge of which the copper roller scrapes in, its revolution. To this contrivance the name of doctor is given. By its use only the color required to fill the depressions is left on the rollers, and the excess falls back into the trough. The employment of many engraved rollers in a single machine is attended with great difficulties, arising from the multiplication of all the other attendant parts in the same proportion. The cylinders have different diameters as the pattern requires, and must consequently* revolve at different rates of speed. By passing under many rollers, the calico is in danger of being displaced and the regularity of the print disturbed. But when everything is exactly adjusted, the work goes on with beautiful precision, accomplishing an extraordinary amount of work.
In the use of the cylinder machine, particular care is required that the colors and mordants should be brought to the proper consistency by a sufficient quantity of the thickeners or gums employed, so that they may not spread or run into each other; and that the selection of these thickeners should be with reference to the chemical effect that may result from their mixture with the colors. The arrangement of the colors, too, in their order of succession, must be with reference to the effect that one may have by coming in contact with the other on the cloth. The rooms in which the operations are conducted require to be kept at a proper degree of humidity and warmth, the success of the delicate processes depending in great measure upon due attention to these particulars. As the cloth leaves the printing machine, it is drawn over rollers through a hot-air chamber, raised to the temperature of about 200°, in which it is thoroughly dried and the colors become set. - The various methods of preparing and applying the colors and mordants are classed under six or more different styles, viz.: 1, the madder style; 2, the padding style; 3, the topical style, or printing by steam; 4, the resist or reserve style; 5, the discharge style; and 6, the China-blue or pottery style; to which some add the mandarining, in which the color is produced only on silk and woollen fabrics by the action of nitric acid upon the animal tissue.
Two or more of these are commonly applied upon the same piece, to produce the various colors of the pattern. Each of them is a complicated process, involving numerous chemical operations, which would require volumes for their full description. The madder style is like that described by Pliny, quoted above. The coloring matter, which may be madder, or almost any organic dyestuff capable of imparting its color to water, and forming an insoluble compound with mordants, is not applied to the cloth, but this is printed with the mordant instead, and the color is afterward brought out in the places to which the mordant has been applied by the ordinary methods of dyeing. By the different engraved rollers, each supplying a different mordant, various shades and colors are afterward brought out by one dye. Before the mordanted cloth is dyed it is hung for some time in airy chambers, in order that the mordants may intimately combine with the fibre. This operation is called ageing, and has recently been abbreviated by a process in which the goods are passed over rollers in a room in which a small quantity of steam is allowed to escape.
But before the goods are in a state to receive the dye, it is necessary to remove that portion of the mordant which has not undergone in the drying or ageing that chemical change which renders it insoluble and fixed in the spots to which it is applied; if left, it would spread in the dye beck or vat, and cause the dye to adhere where it should not be seen.
From the material formerly used to effect this removal, which was a warm aqueous solution of cow dung, to which chalk was added if the cloth contained any free acid, the process was called dunging. Solutions of phosphate of soda and lime, with a little glue or some other forms of gelatine, have been substituted; and more recently silicate of soda, silicate of lime, and arsenite of soda have been used, and the process is usually called cleansing. Not only is the useless portion of the mordant removed by this method, but the material employed as thickening is also dissolved out, and the mordant which remains is the more firmly fixed by uniting with some of the constituents of the dung or of its substitutes. The cloth, after being passed twice through the dung becks, is several times washed in clean water, and is then ready for dyeing. Upon the care with which the dunging operation has been conducted, the delicate effects to be produced in great measure depend. The padding style is practised only with mineral colors.
A colored ground is obtained by passing the cloth through a tub containing the mordant, and then between two rollers covered with blanket stuff, which is called the padding machine, and which presses out the superfluous liquid, and then through another similar apparatus which furnishes the color. If the object is to obtain a design on a white or colored ground, the cloth may be first mordanted in one padding machine and then printed in the other; or, as commonly practised, be first printed with one of the solutions, and then be padded or winced in the other. Wincing is the passing of goods back and forth a number of times over rollers placed in the dye becks below the surface of the dyeing liquid. The topical style is that in which the thickened colors and mordants are mixed and applied together to the cloth. These are sometimes permanent without the application of steam; and many cheap goods are sold, principally for exportation, in which the fugitive colors, called spirit, fancy, or wash-off colors, are fixed neither by a mordant nor by steaming; but steam not only makes the color more permanent, but gives to it a brilliancy and delicacy of finish, and is usually employed.
It is applied in a variety of methods - by exposing the goods in a cask, steam chest, tight chamber, or receptacle called a lantern, or in that commonly used for calicoes, called the column, to an atmosphere of steam at the temperature of 211° or 212° F. The column consists essentially of a hollow copper cylinder perforated with numerous holes, placed upright in a small apartment furnished with a flue for the exit of steam. Around the cylinder is rolled a piece of blanket, then a piece of white calico, and afterward several pieces of the printed and dried calico. The steam is then let into the cylinder for 30 or 40 minutes. The resist style is the printing of designs with some substance, as oil or a paste, which will protect the portions it covers from receiving any color, and which may subsequently be removed. They may be of a nature to act mechanically or chemically, and designed to resist the action either of a mordant or a color. The discharge style is producing white or bright figures upon a colored ground, by dissolving out the mordant in goods not yet dyed, or the dye if this has been first applied, and then printing the portions anew with the hand block.
Chlorine and chromic acid are commonly used for removing organic coloring matter, and mordants are dissolved by printing with acid solutions. White figures are thus produced upon imitation turkey-red bandanna handkerchiefs by letting a solution of chlorine flow through hollow lead types of the form of the figure, the types in two corresponding plates, one above and the other underneath, being set in a press which contains a pile of 12 or 14 handkerchiefs. The plates are brought together with a pressure of about 300 tons, and this is sufficient to prevent the chlorine water from bleaching the fabric beyond the limits of the types. The China-blue style is a method of forming a pattern, partly of white and partly of different shades of blue, by first printing with indigo in its insoluble state, and then reducing this to the soluble state and dissolving it upon the cloth by immersing it in suitable preparations. In this process the dye is transferred into the substance of the fibres, where it is precipitated in the original insoluble form, and of the same variety of shades that were printed upon the goods.
It is very curious that in this process the shades when dissolved do not run together, nor even spread upon the portions left white. - Since the introduction of aniline colors, most of our knowledge of which we owe to the researches of Prof. A. W. Hof-mann of Berlin, much of the printing of calico has been done with them; and since the production in 1869 by Grabe and Liebermann from anthracene, one of the hydrocarbons obtained in the distillation of coal tar, of artificial alizarine, a substance identical in composition with the natural alizarine obtained from madder (see Alizarine), the substitution of coal-tar colors is likely to become still more general. The aniline colors are applied' topically, the only mordant used being albumen (usually that obtained from dried blood, bleached by the action of ozone) or vegetable gluten, prepared in various ways. After the color has been applied the goods are steamed and washed, and usually steamed a second time. Aniline black, which is obtained by the action of certain metallic chlorides upon aniline oil, is becoming much used in calico printing. To get the best results, pure aniline should be used. The black made by this method is developed upon the cloth itself by exposure subsequent to the printing.
The aniline is mixed with nearly equal parts of chlorate of potash, chloride of ammonium, sulphate of copper, and tartaric acid, by means of a starch paste, and printed topically. Then the printed pieces are left 48 hours in a moist atmosphere of a temperature of about 104° F., and finished bypassing through a weak solution of carbonate of soda. The following recipes for printing with artificial alizarine are taken from a valuable pamphlet by Dr. Frederick Versmann. For red: 5 lbs. alizarine paste containing 10 per cent, of alizarine, 16 lbs. thickening, 1 lb. solution of acetate of alumina (10° Baume), 1 1/2 lb. solution of acetate of lime (16° B.). For pinks, the same compound is used diluted with two or three parts of thickening. For double printing, when deep red is printed on first, the goods must be steamed one hour before the second printing takes place; after the second printing they must again be steamed one hour and exposed to the air 24 hours, when they are passed through one of the following baths at a temperature of 120° to 140° F., remaining in the bath from one minute to one minute and a half: water 250 gallons, chalk 60 lbs., chloride of tin 3 lbs.; or water 250 gallons, chalk 40 lbs, arseniate of soda 10 lbs.
The goods are then washed and brightened by three soapings, the first soaping containing chloride of tin, and are also washed between each soaping. For very deep red, twice the above quantity of alizarine paste is used, and nitrate of alumina is added to the mixture. For purple, the following recipe is given: 3 lbs. alizarine paste, 10 quarts purple thickening, 6 oz. solution of pyrolignite of iron (12° B.), 12 oz. solution of acetate of lime (16° B.). The printed goods are steamed for an Lour or two, and are then aired for 24 or 36 hours and passed in a padding machine through the chalk and arseniate of soda bath, after which they are washed and given a single soap bath without the tin salt. The thickening for reds is made as follows: 12 lbs. wheat starch, 40 quarts water, 4 quarts acetic acid (6° B.), 11/4 lb. gum tragacanth, 3 lbs. olive oil; boil well and stir till cold. The thickening for purple is made with 10 lbs. starch, 27 quarts water, 3 quarts acetic acid, 11/8 lb. gum traga--canth, and 2 lbs. olive oil.