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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Lutradur bowl

This is a Lutradur bowl made as an inspirational prototype for Laine Canivet’s workshop at next summer’s Quilting in the Trees retreat.   I fused two layers together with Steam A Seam 2, stitched extra layers to form the base, then used Wonderfil Accent rayon in coral to embellish, along with other neutral variegated threads.  I enjoy the translucency of Lutradur, and that it doesn’t fray!  For other ideas involving heat and paint, see here.

This afternoon I resumed the cafe life.  This time I sat in the glassed in porch looking north and selected some elements of the landscape to convey gloomy clouds hanging over a misty landscape with modern street lights in front.  Reading that description, it sounds like an oil painting perhaps by Thomas Kincade or those paintings of Paris in the rain (are they all painted by the same person or is there a whole atelier full of artists pouting when the sun comes out????  “encore du soleil, quelle misere!”)

I did better with the ink and ruling pen, using a piece of scratch paper to start the ink flowing, so no nasty blobs, and it dried much faster.  This is a very edited landscape and I could probably sit in the same spot, pick out different elements, and make a completely different looking scene.

You’d never know this has anything to do with Lutradur!

but it does.

 

Lutradur is a non woven synthetic material that can be warped or distressed with heat, painted, almost anything goes.

At this point I’m most interested in exploring the translucency of Lutradur.  Laine Canivet whom I know through FAD, is teaching a Lutradur class for the Quilt Guild at the retreat next summer and asked volunteers to make inspirational projects.  My first was a bowl, which Laine now has.  Then my thoughts went in another direction and my current project is to make a tote bag from Lutradur.

 

Although I’ve had the Total Tote Bag Book (Joyce Aiken and Jean Ray Laury, published in 1977) for ages, I have to confess this is the first time I’ve actually set out to make a tote bag from it.  I measured the Lutradur I have on hand.  Use what you have is becoming my new mantra, as you can see.  Based on the supply of Lutradur I did the math and decided it would be a good idea to make a “muslin” out of fabric to be sure the directions made sense and the measurements added up.  I found a practical piece of fabric from my stash of suitable size, then decided to use some of the assembled fabric I’ve been making in odd moments using up scraps and smaller pieces from my stash.  The intent is to make a bed quilt but if I keep on cannibalizing it it may be like Penelope’s weaving in the Odyssey!

Feeling that with all the seams it would be a good idea to line this, I used the fabric I’d chosen from my stash to make that.  Then I thought since I’m doing this, it would be good practice to make handles (although the plan for the Lutradur tote will have different handles).  Back to the stash, and more math because I figured 18 inch handles were too long for a boxy, undersized tote.

 

So now I’m at the point of assembly, some hand sewing is required.  One reason not to make a tote bag is the proliferation of totes we’ve acquired from various conferences, events, grocery stores, etc.  But this one now has a purpose in life, it’s destined to hold wooden blocks.

 

And here’s an inspiring photo of pomegranates!  The colour is so beautiful but when I tried using the arils with salt and vinegar to dye cotton I got a feeble mushroomy pink-brown colour.

Bead workshop

I had a relaxing, fun afternoon at the Victoria Quilt Guild’s Fall Frolic making beads with Laine Canivet.

We started making beads from ripped up painted paper towels and discussed how different paper towels vary in texture.

Paper towel beads

Next we made beads from melted plastic, I love how shiny they are!  Although I don’t possess a heat gun, and I already have enough supplies and equipment to last me for a good long time.

The last part of the afternoon was spent making beads out of — beads, who would thunk it?

This is cool because I got to play with coloured wire (which I’ve had for ages and not used very much) and because Laine encouraged us to use a mixture of beads, not all the same.  I did match the colour of the wire to the colour of the beads just for this afternoon, but there’s no reason you have to do that.  And it’s something I can do while watching a movie or chatting on speakerphone.

Here’s a picture that gives an idea of size (the grid is one-inch squares) and shows all the beads I made.  Laine encouraged us to use colours we normally would not, but I confess I ignored that bit of the instructions.  I don’t have one favourite colour.  The colours I use least are probably brown and white, but I do still use them.