Meet The Material: Burlap

Posted by: on December 19th, 2012 | Make A Comment
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A collage of DIY burlap projects

Images via (clockwise): Home Depot (burlap wreath);  Southern Living (gift wrap); Apartment Therapy (planters); Valarie Fox Photgraphy via Todayi (flowers); I Heart Nap Time (silverware); Design, Dining + Diapers (pillows)

 

Burlap has gone by many names since it was first imported from India by the British in the early 1800s. Also known as hessian, jute and gunny-sack to name a few, it’s one of the least expensive textiles in the world and one of the most durable. It’s a material that’s been used for everything from panning for gold to building military fortifications over its long history. And, as you can see from the collage of images we found around the web, this eco-friendly product now serves far more creative purposes.

What is burlap? Burlap is a coarse woven fabric made of yarn spun primarily from the skin of jute or hemp plants.

What are some of the cool properties of burlap? It’s actually part cloth and part wood. Burlap has a high content of cellulose, a major component of plant stalks, as well as lignin, a polymeric substance found in wood.

How is burlap used? As sacks filled with coffee, potatoes or children having races is what we mostly imagine burlap used for. It’s also used extensively in the manufacturing of carpet, rugs and furniture. And when severe storms threaten, temporary barriers constructed with burlap sandbags help to protect families and property from the damage of flood waters.

What can you use burlap for? Stretch it into a canvas and paint a masterpiece. Make a nice dress or a jute suit. Burlap is a very handy material in the garden, too. You can use it to protect tender plants from frost and wind, to control runoff when planting on steep slopes or to control weeds. The uses for burlap are many, varied and often quite creative.

Here are some other things you can do with burlap that you may not have imagined possible.

 

Image of the Office of Paula + Martha at Kips Bay Showroom

Image via House Beautiful

 

From House Beautiful, Paula + Martha’s office at the Kips Bay Showroom certainly pulled back the curtains to reveal the warmth and versatility of burlap. Trimmed with energetic pops of color and furnished in a mix of vintage and modern pieces, the look of the décor is both modern and inviting.

 

 

Image of the sculture My Trip In A '61 Ford By Adan Avalos

Image via University of California, Riverside Newsroom

 

For the piece “My Trip in a ’61 Ford,” artist Adan Avalos cast a 1961 Ford truck in burlap using a mixture of sugar and water. In its texture, tone and humble appeal, Avalos saw the story of migrant farm worker families from the Southwest similar to his own.

 

An indoor hopscotch mat made from burlap

Image via Children Inspire Design

 

On days when the weather keeps the kids indoors you to may not be able to resist joining them in a game of burlap hopscotch.

Meet the Material is a series designed to introduce you to some of the everyday goods sold at The Home Depot. Is there a material you’d like to know more about? Just let us know in the comments.

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