Silk Paper Workshop

At our Quilt Guild annual retreat this past weekend Laine Canivet taught a small group of us how to make silk paper from silk roving.

Here’s some yummy inspiration by Laine:

photo(23)A theatre purse with hand-made tassel and some purple beads.

Laine gave us a quick demo of the basic process

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and then we all worked on our first individual pieces.  The group was small enough that Laine was able to guide us along and make another sheet for herself.

The next project was making scrunchies.

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From the photo you might think these are hard to do but really they aren’t.

Again, there was wonderful synergy happening and lots of “What if?” thinking going on.  Laine was inspired to make a giant scrunchie just to see what would happen.  It’s huge and will make a dramatic artwork.

Here’s my own “what if?” piece.

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Laine mentioned that one can make vessels by covering a form with food wrap for ease of removal, then draping wet silk paper over it and letting it dry.  My first thought was “rats, no food wrap!”  Then I remembered I had packed several large trash bags to protect the work surface from the dye, and not all had been used.  A few quick snips and I had plastic sheeting to drape over a large upturnedphoto(30) yoghourt container.  The nice thing was the way the plastic draped made it possible to achieve wonderful fluting, whereas food wrap would cling to the mold and you’d end up with the less interesting shape of a yoghourt pot.

Here are a couple of views of the outside now that it’s finished drying

photo(29)  And here is the inside.  It’s shinier and that’s one thing I like about it.

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I also intentionally played with using both red and green roving, laying the two layers of the paper in opposite directions and colour placement in order to achieve some of the wonderful colours found in rhubarb and Swiss chard, where red and green fuse.  It’s one colour combination that has particularly fascinated me since I started dyeing fabrics.

This is a first experiment and for the next one will aim at a more  defined, less wispy edge.

 

What I liked about this workshop and process:

  • The chance to play around with messy, wet ingredients!
  • A fairly easy way to dye silk
  • The lustrous colours silk gives that no other textile can approach
  • Layering and transparency effects
  • All the other possibilities I have yet to try such as beads, stamping on silk paper, painting it, sewing it, etc.

Drawbacks:

  • Precisely because it’s wet and messy you need both space AND time to do it with no interruptions
  • Dry roving flies all over so you have to work in an enclosed space with no cross breezes, at least until you have added water and textile medium
  • Cost of the materials — imported from the U.S. and pricey to begin with.  We certainly appreciated Laine’s very fair kit fee and the leftover supplies in it so will be able to do more at home.  It’s silk, so will always be expensive.  I can see I need to sell some bowls so I can afford to keep going!
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