Lyon, (France) has always been the European center of the silk-trade, and is still known for its outstanding quality of silk, especially the Jacquard Silk.
It became famous in the XV century, after a direct route between China and Lyon was created.
The climate, the quality and talent of the silkworkers, all added up to the innovation and creativity of endless possibilities.
One of the original innovaters was Joseph Jacquard, after whom this kind of silk is named. He invented this new way of weaving in 1805.
He was a silkweaver by profession and with his creation a whole new process was launched.
In 1839 a portrait of Joseph Jacquard was woven in silk on a Jacquard loom. It required 24.000 punched cards to create the picture.
This material is costly, because of the time and skill involved in making the Jacuard cards, preparing the loom to produce a new pattern, and the slowness of the weaving operation.
Beautiful Jacquard Silk designs are made today, and Damask and Brocades are just a few.
When painted, the lighter and darker shades of the patterns are even more visible and give that extra glow.
Across the globe expensive silk has been used by the Church. Kings and Queens still prefer their gowns in this lustrous material.
It is worth to visit the hill of La Croix Rousse, just outside Lyon, where you will find many museums telling the story of the "canuts" (French for silk workers). La Maison des Canuts, for example.
Today, silk is still produced in Lyon, but on a smaller scale then 150 years ago.
An original Jacquard loom can be seen in the Musée des Tissus et des Arts décoratif in Lyon.