About 20 years ago I bought a big bag of silk cocoon strippings from a lovely fibrecraft shop in a barn in Elterwater in the Lake District, sadly long closed, and for a while played happily with this magical stuff that needs only an iron and water to turn it into a papery textile. I used to add scraps of fabric and paper, silk fibres and sequin waste and embedded lace, bits torn out of magazines and coloured tissue – the sericin left in the cocoon strippings is strong enough to hold all kinds of things, though it works best if they’re light and flat. Mostly I used this for cards and made a couple of wall pieces and then I ran out of steam and other things took over, but the silk stayed in a box on the shelf.

I hadn’t thought about it for ages till Alan reminded me how much I used to enjoy it, so last weekend I got out the ironing board and spent a couple of hours ironing away – I have to admit that creative ironing is almost the only kind I ever do.

I tried incorporating a few different materials and some were more successful than others. These samples include bits of felt, merino fibres, thowsters’ waste, bamboo fibres, sari yarn and a lacy fabric.

silk paper

I like the way the sari yarn bleeds dye into the surface (at the bottom of the biggest piece, and the little piece on the left in the middle). The felt and merino fibres were the only things I tried that didn’t bond so well; at least, they need a high ratio of cocoon strippings to stick to, and you get loose bits and ‘floating’ layers. That could be a feature, but it makes the textile more fragile.

silk paper

In the next sample I carded about equal quantities of silk and merino for a while to mix them. I like this effect.

silk paper

Bamboo fibre and synthetic lace fabric both bond very well.

silk paper

I like the fact that you can do a lot of experiments in a relatively short time, which is good when you’re not feeling very creative, and a little silk goes a long way. There are lots of lovely possibilities.

I unwrapped my rusty calico soon after the new year, not a finished piece of fabric really – I don’t think it stayed wet enough, but a start for some overdyeing, anyway. I like the marks on the left. I’m ordering some silk so I can try pole-wrapping that now I’m here to keep an eye on it.

rusted calico

time to do the ironing

4 thoughts on “time to do the ironing

  • January 19, 2009 at 11:00 am

    you need to keep a hawk’s eye on silk as iron can eat it away very quickly.ever wondered why that silk shirt of yours disintegrated? most likely it was made with weighted yarn.

    neki desu

  • January 24, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    I love your silk paper and now I will have to rummage through my stash and see if I have any. 🙂

  • January 29, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    Wow! I never knew one could do that with silk cocoons … have to look out for some! Looks very interesting – and fun!

  • February 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    You have inspired me to dig out my silk fibres etc and play !
    Last time I was at Elterwater was when I was at Charlotte Mason’s and went there with our oil paints and easels!
    Many moons ago!

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