Real bark cloth originated in the South Seas. The bark from tropical trees was made into a thin fabric and then was dyed or painted on.
What we know as barkcloth, actually was called textured cretonne and was brought to the U.S. from France in the 1920's. It gained popularity in the middle of the 1930's. And began being called barkcloth in the 1950's.
Barkcloth traditionally came with large brightly colored floral prints. In the 1950's and the 1960's a lot of the fabric was printed with more fanciful and modern patterns.
Scanning the web I found all sorts of fun and whimsically printed barkcloth. This 50's teenage lifestyle barkcloth can be found over at Sharon's Antiques Vintage Fabrics.
This post was originally published on February 28, 2006.