Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Make Silk Paper

Eileen Doughty shares her process of making silk paper. Each colorful paper is embellished with dried flower blossoms, sequins, gilding chips, or other fibers such as metallic threads. They are sold in the gallery as sheets - or as Eileen's wearable art such as necklaces.

First, set out the gorgeous silk fibers; mine are already hand-dyed by Robin Russo of Vermont.

I cover my work table with a drop cloth and a sheet of plexiglas, as this will get a little messy. Choose a few colors to blend together. On a piece of netting, layer tufts of the fibers.

Fold the netting over the silk fibers to make a sandwich, to hold them in place.

Thoroughly dampen the fibers with water and a little synthrapol, to flatten the piles.

Choose embellishments for each paper. I have a collection of flower petals, seeds and leaves that I organize in envelopes; plus threads, chips, sequins... fun things that will be flat enough for inclusion in paper.

Some of the embellishments, such as threads and sequins, can be added before the first wetting. I gently pull up the netting and add flower blossoms after that step.

A glue medium is brushed on both sides of the paper, which is how everything sticks together. Lots of thinned mediums may be used: textile medium, acrylic varnish, PVA glue, Stiffy, Modge Podge, GAC...

Hang the papers to dry. Newspapers underneath catch the drips. A warm sunny day is ideal, but they can also be dried inside on a line.

When completely dry, gently pull away the netting. It's almost magical!

The papers are stiff enough to use for a variety of purposes. Here's a sneak peak at a necklace Eileen will submit to the next gallery show:

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