It's a great activity for a group of like-minded friends. If each person brings a different coloured silk top bundle, you can swap and mix colours. It's quick to make silk paper, so there's plenty of time for chatting and drinking cups of tea while waiting for the silk paper to dry!
You will need:
Plastic table covering
Two small plastic containers
Two pieces of A4-size white tulle (or larger if you want to make large sheets)
Silk top fibres
Pegs or bulldog clips
Small brush or roller
Sponge or paper towel
Hand-dyed silk tops
Cover the table with a layer of newspapers. Place the plastic table covering on top. This will protect the table from moisture. Alternatively, you could work on a large plastic tray.
Half fill one plastic container with warm water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. This combination will break down the surface oils on the silk and allow the textile medium to penetrate. In the other container, mix three parts of warm water with one part of textile medium. This is the mixture that will adhere the silk fibres together.
Place one piece of tulle on the plastic. Tease out the silk fibres and start placing a fine layer of them on top of the tulle. Lay them in the same direction and cover as much of the tulle as possible.
Once the first layer of fibres is complete, lay out the second layer in a different direction. The silk paper will be stronger if the fibres cross over.
Step 4Step 5
Usually two layers is sufficient to make a sheet of silk paper suitable for stitching onto another fabric. If thicker silk paper is required, add a third (and even fourth) layer of fibres, alternating their directions.
Place the second piece of tulle on top. Pat it down carefully, ensuring that the silk fibres stay in place. Use pegs or bulldog clips to secure the tulle pieces.
Use the brush or roller to thoroughly wet the layers with soapy water. Turn the piece over and thoroughly wet the other side as well. Gently work the water through the layers. The more layers of silk fibres there are, the longer this will take. Gently adjust any fibres that have slipped out of place.
Use a clean sponge or paper towel to dab through the tulle on both sides. It is important to remove any excess water. The silk should remain damp.
Use a clean brush or roller to thoroughly wet the layers on both sides with the water/textile medium mixture. Gently work it through the layers.
Use a paper towel to blot the excess mixture. Hang the sheet outside to dry. Once dry, remove the pegs or bulldog clips and carefully peel away the tulle from both sides. Be gentle – some fibres may adhere to the tulle, so ease the layers apart slowly.
Press the silk paper with an iron on the silk setting.
Ideas for using silk paper
- When making silk paper, metallic threads, Angelina fibres, embellishments or any yarn scraps can be scattered on the top layer of silk fibres before the second piece of tulle is added. These will adhere to the top layer of the silk paper and provide interesting patterns.
- Sheets of silk paper can be machine or hand stitched. They make beautiful notebook covers, small bags or can be added to quilts. I made two A4-sized journal quilts that feature silk paper as the top layer – Peaks of Flame and Goddess Roseus. The first was machine stitched with a variety of threads including gold metallic ones, while the second was intensively hand stitched all over with cotton thread.
Detail of Goddess Roseus
- Sheets of silk paper may be pleated or beaded. It may also be cut into strips for simple strip weaving. This allows a further level of embellishment to adorn projects.
- Pieces of silk paper may be made to any size. While it is wet, silk paper can be moulded around items such as bowls. It can also be shaped into vases or small containers.
I'd love to hear from you if you've used this tutorial to make silk paper. Email me!