Katy of Chichester Copywriter, a keen crafter, received an invitation to make silk paper from silk fibres with textile artist Sue Clark at Susie Watson Designs in Chichester last week.
Susie Watson Designs not only sells an array of gorgeous fabrics, pottery and glassware but also offers an excellent programme of Craft and Interior Design Courses.
West Sussex creatives have the opportunity to try their hands at everything from crochet to ceramics in the beautiful studio in North Street, Chichester, September-December, 2013.
After seeing Sue Clark’s work exhibited on the Chichester Open Studios Art Trail, Katy was delighted when the handmade homeware shop asked her to come along and take photos while she enjoyed creating paper made from silk.
Facts about silk
Did you know?…
- Silk was discovered in ancient China in around 3500 BC and remained a secret until it was introduced to India via the Silk Road in around 140 AD.
- Marco Polo was one of the first Europeans to travel the Silk Road and in The Travels of Marco Polo he revealed Far Eastern customs, such as silk making.
- Each Bombyx mori silk moth produces 200-300 eggs then the caterpillars feed on mulberry leaves for 35 days, moulting two-three times within that period.
- One silk moth can take 36 hours to spin a silk cocoon which offers more than one mile of filament.
- Silk’s triangular structure, similar to that of a diamond, gives the thread that desirable sheen.
- It would take the silk from around 5000 silk worms to create just one silk kimono.
Making silk paper
What intrigued our professional copywriter most about this particular creative workshop was the process of making paper. Fond memories of witnessing a demonstration of how papyrus is made in Egypt and a love of beautiful stationery (as can be witnessed on Pinterest) made this experience all the more desirable…
During the workshop our creative copywriter experimented with using tussah silk fibres, natural gummed silk fibres and silk carrier rods to create silk paper.
Making silk paper from tussah silk fibres
The process of making a tough sheet of silk paper from tussah silk included: pulling the fibres to form a tuft, layering the fibres to make a sheet, sponging and dampening the fibres with warm water and fairy liquid and sponging with a mix of water and PVA before hanging the sheet out to dry. Tussah silk paper sheets can be cut or shaped and then used to create a variety of crafts, including bowls and cards.
Making silk paper from natural gummed silk fibres
As natural gummed silk fibres still contain seracin (gum) the paper making process is quicker and easier than as above. The fibres are placed on baking parchment and dampened with water spray before being covered with a layer of baking parchment and then ironed until dried and bonded. During the workshop, the class had the choice to use wooden printing blocks (something that greatly appealed to our West Sussex copywriter) and coloured manmade fibres to create interesting patterns on the silk paper.
Making silk paper from silk carrier rods
Next, dyed silk carrier rods, the waste product that gathers on metal rods during the silk reeling process, were used to create silk paper. These fibres also contain seracin so the spray and iron method was used again. Here are some photos showing how the silk paper was made as well as some beautiful creations:
More craft workshops
Chichester Copywriter previously joined Garage Ceramics to Get Creative with Speciality Glazes and painted a beautiful owl pot using a deliciously sparkling crackle glaze. Moira of Garage Ceramics is just one of the West Sussex creatives whose workshops are running at Susie Watson Designs this autumn/winter. You’ll also find courses that will teach you: how to knit, how to make beautiful bunting and how to create your own Christmas decorations.
To find out more about creative workshops at Susie Watson Designs in Chichester, please visit their news page and download the PDF brochure. You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
More than a creative copywriter…
Did you realise that our creative copywriter also creates jewellery inspired by literature and nature (especially Alice in Wonderland, dragonflies and butterflies) via DillyWorm Crafts? Yes, Katy of Chichester Copywriter also runs a small craft business with her mum Gill and their unique creations went down a storm at last year’s Writers’ Retreat!