Betsy Ross used it to sew our first flag. Columbus used it for the sails of his three ships. For centuries, hemp has been used in sailcloth, rigging, canvas, paper, rope, and sackcloth. Recently, modern technology has softened hemp for use in more interior applications, although it still tests as strong as flax and twice as durable as cotton. It has only 5 percent elongation (ability to hold its shape), one of the lowest of any natural fiber, which makes it a good choice for contract upholstery and wrapped wall panels. It is also inherently resistant to ultraviolet light and mold, making it appropriate for window treatments, very humid areas, and outdoor sites. Its porous nature causes it to absorb water and dyes more readily than cotton and linenthus making it less likely to fade. These enduring properties, plus its inherent beauty, inspired TexStyle Fabrics to include it in its newest collection of natural fiber wallcoverings and upholstery fabrics called “Nothing But Naturals.” All fabrics are in stock.
Hemp is green to grow and to manufacture. It propagates extremely quickly, producing 250 percent more fiber than cotton and 600 percent more fiber than flax on the same amount of land. Its strong, three-footlong roots conserve water, use less fertilizer, and prevent topsoil from eroding. And because hemp does not exhaust the soil, crops do not have to be rotated. After the outer stalks are chopped down and allowed to soften naturally, the inner fibers are pulled out and combed by hand. The raw fibers are degummed and spun into threads by conventional machinery.
Supplies are currently grown in West Germany and China, but not the United States. In this country, it has been considered politically incorrect to grow because it was mistakenly associated with marijuana. At present, the Vermont state legislature is debating whether to legalize its cultivation here in the U.S. Hemp is not yet tested by ACT.
Copyright © 1998, Interiors. All rights reserved.