Silk Paper

Silk Paper

Over on the Felting and Fiber Forum, we’ve been talking about silk paper on and off over the last few weeks. It started when Pam showed us this gorgeous silk vase and then a beautiful silk box made from delicate silk hankies, threads and Angelina fibres. Then Karen was inspired to try making silk paper and after finding some silks work better with different methods, made some gorgeous pieces.

Once all the hard work had been done 😉 I thought I’d give it a go too. I decided to just jump in and try it with spray starch. I’d read a few years ago that it was possible to make silk paper by spraying a layer of silk fibres with laundry starch, adding another layer of silk fibres and spraying that, then covering with baking parchment and ironing until it was dried. Well, it’s almost that easy. It’s hard to get the spray from the can of starch onto the fibres without blowing them away, so it takes a bit of practice to get the spray to ‘drizzle’. I found it helpful to spray first, so after a few trials, I got an old piece of cotton cloth and layed it onto brown parcel paper, sprayed the cloth with starch, added a layer of silk, drizzled then sprayed starch onto that, then added more silk, more starch, then covered with another layer of cloth, another piece of parcel paper and ironed it on both sides until it was dry.

The results were mostly really good. A few times, the layers wanted to separate, but then I had two layers of finer silk paper. I used one of these thinner layers to test out the silk paper before I made more. You can see a photo of before felting here, and after felting here. These are some of the silk papers I made, they are mostly dyed mulberry and tussah silk.

I did a small trial piece of felt using the tufty bits from around the edges of the silk paper. From this, I realised I needed to use bolder colours for the background so the silk paper could stand out more for the result I wanted. For this second piece, I started off with a layout approximately 34.5 x 34.5 cm

It shrank a lot from top to bottom, and finished up roughly 22 x 33 cm. I didn’t particularly position the silk paper pieces so that the fibres were running top to bottom, and a lot were two layers, so I’m not really sure why there was so much uneven shrinkage, but I’d noticed it on the trial piece too. Both pieces had two even layers of merino tops.

There were a few pieces of the silk paper which were thicker or had a lot of starch on, which took a little more work to felt in, but as you can see from this angle, the silk paper felts in well to the surface.

Lyn from rosiepink recommended the book ‘Handmade Silk Paper’ by Kath Russon, so I’m hoping to have a read through that soon and try the wallpaper paste method of making silk paper. Have you made silk paper or paper from any other fibres? Do you use it in felting or something else? I’d love to hear about it or see photos if you have 🙂

10 thoughts on “Silk Paper

  1. Zed, your samplers always look pretty enough to hang on the wall!
    The silk paper has felted in really well and there must be lots of possibilities for its application in felting projects.
    Really odd about the shrinkage though isn’t it?

    1. Thanks, Lyn 🙂
      I hate wasting anything so it seems pointless making something unless it will be usable or good enough to hang on the wall.
      It does seem like there are endless possibilities for it and silk always looks good 🙂

    1. Thanks, Judith 🙂
      Yeah, some of the pieces remind me of van gogh glass, I bet the silk paper would work well for a mosaic, I don’t think I have the patience or eyes for that, though!

    1. And then it’d shrink weirdly and have to be photographed on an angle to make sense 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ann 🙂
      The black background has been great for photos, I need to find something that gets the ‘bits’ off though, I’m using up all my packing tape keeping it clean 🙂

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