The term “Burlap” is of unknown origin (believed to be an American term) and refers to the term “Hessian”, a dense and coarse woven cloth (fabric) constructed from the skin of the jute plant, sisal fibers or a combination of other vegetable fibers, to make ropes, nets, sacks and bags. Also referred to as “Sackcloth”, the common burlap bag was typically called a “Gunny Sack” or a “Gunny Cloth”. Who knew? Exported in the early 1800’s from India, burlap was used to create uniforms for Hessian soldiers from the German state of Hesse. Thus, the alternative name “Hessian Cloth” was derived. Indeed, its history in war continued in WWII with its use as a material for camouflage scrim on combat helmets. Burlap scrim was also woven onto shrimp and fish netting to create large-scale military camouflage netting. Again, who knew?
Burlap, or “Hessian”, has often been used in construction of utilitarian sacks and bags for the shipment of goods. (Alas, visions of coffee beans fill my mind….). The durability, breathability and resistance of the fabric pairs well with a resistance to condensation and spoilage of the goods shipped within this rugged substance of natural fibers. “Hessian” is also commonly used for making sandbags for flood mitigation or fortifications. In landscaping and agriculture, burlap is wrapped around the exposed roots of trees after transplanting and utilized for erosion control on steep slopes. The construction industry uses burlap as a wet covering to prevent rapid moisture loss in the setting of cement and concrete. Alas, even the art world has historically used burlap, stretched as a canvas awaiting a paintbrush! Indeed, a multitude of important uses of this natural substance bring this humble fabric and its long lasting appeal to the forefront as a valuable product.
The use of burlap as a decorative fabric that adorns many stylish interiors certainly surpasses its primarily utilitarian origins. It is the recent surge of production of burlap in a refined state, referred to as “Jute” (which often incorporates other natural fibers such as flax, cotton or hemp) that fill the interiors with stylish decoration that my attention finds….
The burlap used in interior decorating is typically lighter in weight than utilitarian burlap, with a slightly loose, woven weave termed “Canvas Weave”. An eco-friendly material used for curtains, upholstery, rugs, wall coverings and a myriad of other stylish accessories for the interiors, its natural, non-shiny surface and resilience and strength in texture creates a lasting impact. Burlap in the interiors provides an element of rustic decoration that pairs well with diverse interior decorating styles.
Consider burlap. Whether incorporated into the interiors or used as a decorative embellishment in entertaining and events, its natural and widespread appeal cannot be refuted. Left in its natural color or dyed, this natural substance creates a natural appeal within the world of interior design. Stylish decoration with woven, natural fibers, indeed.