I love receiving comments on my posts and I thank every one of you who takes the time to comment. Diane asked a question on my How-to: silk paper page recently and I thought the answer might interest some others of you as well. Diane asked: what are silk tops?
There is an explanation of how silk is made here. It is a fascinating process and interesting to know that all silk comes from the same source - a cocoon produced by a silk worm. The cocoons are processed in different ways to produce a variety of products, most of which are treasures that textile artists enjoy.
The initial processing involves unwinding long, continuous silk filaments from softened cocoons. Leftover or broken threads are known as throwster's waste.
Silk tops are produced from the remains of the cocoon after as much filament as possible has been removed. The long fibres are combined in parallel lines to form continuous lengths. Here is one of my silk tops:
You can see how the fibres come in long sections.
I use silk tops to make silk paper but they can be used in many other ways by textile artists. If you are interested in exploring this medium, I recommend these books: Judith Pinnell's two books, Take Silk and Silk Paper Creations for the Fibre Artist and Sarah Lawrence's Silk Paper for Textile Artists.
I buy silk tops from Unique Stitching and Treetops Colour Harmonies. You can buy them already dyed in a range of gorgeous colours or you can purchase them in their natural shades.
I hope this has answered your question, Diane, and whetted your appetite for making silk paper!