Since velvet is one of my favourite material, I couldn't resist researching a bit of its history. Some samples of velvet has been found from being from 2000BC from Egyptian civilatization, others from the Eastern world in China dating back as far as 400BC. lt was not until the Renaissance between 1400 - 1600 that production of this beautiful woven tufted fabric was at its peak. Seduced by the soft and noble looking qualities of velvet, Europeans introduced it into trade along the Silk Road; an ancient trading network that connected East and Southeast Asia with East Africa, West Asia and Southern Europe by land and sea. Italy - no surprise! - was the first European country to have a velvet industry.
Back when Michelangelo was painting the Sistine Chapel, Galileo was discovering the moons of Jupiter and Leonardo Da Vinci was dreaming of the future, Kings and Queens all over Europe fell in love with the soft, luscious and very expensive velvet produced in Venice. A new technique was used whereby they wove one layer of fabric that absorbed light with another layer on top that reflected it. This produced a wave like effect as you stroked the fabric.
Techniques for making velvet were so important, the weavers were not allowed to leave Venice for fear their trade secrets would be divulged!! To keep their secrets to themselves Venetians invented patent law in 1474.