Bouchon, Basile

SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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fl. c.1725 Lyon, France
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French pioneer in automatic pattern selection for weaving.
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In the earliest draw looms, the pattern to be woven was selected by means of loops of string that were loosely tied round the appropriate leashes, which had to be lifted to make that pick of the pattern by raising the appropriate warp threads. In Isfahan, Persia, looms were seen in the 1970s where a boy sat in the top of the loom. Before the weaver could weave the next pick, the boy selected the appropriate loop of string, pulled out those leashes which were tied in it and lifted them up by means of a forked stick. The weaver below him held up these leashes by a pair of wooden sticks and sent the shuttle through that shed while the boy was sorting out the next loop of string with its leashes. When the pick had been completed, the first loop was dropped further down the leashes and, presumably, when the whole sequence of that pattern was finished, all the loops had be pushed up the leashes to the top of the loom again.
Models in the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris, show that in 1725 Bouchon, a worker in Lyon, dispensed with the loops of string and selected the appropriate leashes by employing a band of pierced paper pressed against a row of horizontal wires by the drawboy using a hand-bar so as to push forward those which happened to lie opposite the blank spaces. These connected with loops at the lower extremity of vertical wires linked to the leashes at the top of the loom. The vertical wires could be pulled down by a comb-like rack beside the drawboy at the side of the loom in order to pull up the appropriate leashes to make the next shed. Bouchon seems to have had only one row of needles or wires, which must have limited the width of the patterns. This is an early form of mechanical memory, used in computers much later. The apparatus was improved subsequently by Falcon and Jacquard.
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Further Reading
A.Barlow, 1878, The History and Principles of Weaving by Hand and by Power, London (a brief description of Bouchon's apparatus).
M.Daumas (ed.), 1968, Histoire générale des techniques Vol. III: L'Expansion du
machinisme, Paris (a description of this apparatus, with a diagram). Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, 1942, Catalogue du musée, section T, industries textiles, teintures et apprêts, Paris (another brief description; a model can be seen in this museum).
C.Singer, (ed.), 1957, A History of Technology, Vol. III, Oxford: Clarendon Press (provides an illustration of Bouchon's apparatus).
RLH

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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