Cajun Brown Cotton Rises Again

Have you spun brown cotton? Although most of today’s commercially produced cotton is white, in the early nineteenth century, the Acadian communities of southern Louisiana grew brown cotton. The film Coton jaune: Acadian Brown Cotton—A Cajun Love Story examines the tradition of how harvested brown cotton was spun and woven into blankets on two-harness floor looms. White cotton and indigo dyes were used in the weavings to add visual interest to the designs. The tradition faded with the onset of commercial weaving operations in the twentieth century, and the labor-intensive traditional blankets using brown cotton were eventually only woven for Cajun bride dowries.

Coton jaune: Acadian Brown Cotton—A Cajun Love Story Film’s poster showing Madame Josephine Gary. Photo by Turner Browne, www.turnerbrowne.com.

Coton jaune: Acadian Brown Cotton—A Cajun Love Story Film’s poster showing Madame Josephine Gary. Photo by Turner Browne, www.turnerbrowne.com.

At a screening of the documentary at the Textile Society of America Symposium last October, filmmaker Sharon Gordon Donnan decided to explore the possibility of growing brown cotton in southwest Louisiana and launching a sustainable “Field to Fashion” project. To get this conversation rolling, she invites all—farmers, fashionistas, academics, weavers, industry reps, agriculturists, politicians, filmmakers, educators, scientists, and lawyers—to join her on February 2, 2017, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Vermilionville in Lafayette, Louisiana. Organizers request that you RSVP by January 25, 2017.

Learn more about the making of the documentary Coton jaune: Acadian Brown Cotton—A Cajun Love Story in Spin Off Spring 2015 and Winter 2017.

Coton jaune: Acadian Brown Cotton—A Cajun Love Story. Directed by Sharon Gordon Donnan and Suzanne Chaillot Breaux. Shadyside Productions. Film.


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