There are two basic ways to make silk paper, the wet method and the ironing method. The wet method involves soaking all your ingredients in a ‘bath’, and dipping a framed gauze grid into it, which you allow to dry into a sheet of paper. This method is the ‘usual’ way to make all handmade paper, often from cotton rags or recycled paper strips.
The ironing method is for gummed silk only – the natural gum in unwashed silk fibres, bonds the fibres together, when sprayed with water and then heated with an ordinary iron.
I wrote the tutorial below a couple of years ago, and am copying it here again, because some of you might like to try it out – and if you give it a try now, you’ll probably find that you get hooked, and can make some lovely gift items in time for Christmas.
Of course the other reason I’m repeating it, is that I have put together a pack of all the fibres you will need to try this method out – available for sale on both ebay & etsy – £9.99. (If you buy from etsy – see my special offer for free postage HERE.). I’ll be listing the individual silk fibres as well in the next few days, so that you can choose which ones you want to use, without buying the kit.
My first attempts are recorded in this tutorial, and I have to say, that they aren’t all that special – hopefully, I will get better at it, now I have a proper work table, and can have another try!
Please do send me pictures of your own attempts – it would be great to see them, and when I have enough from more than three or four of my customers, I’ll put them all up in another blog post, so that we can all learn from each other – smile.
I also intend to put up another blog with a tutorial on the wet method of making silk paper – so do check back here – or even better, why don’t you sign up to follow this blog! (see the options in the column on the right of this text – if you are viewing this on your phone, you may not be able to see it without some adjustments- smile)
Its actually very easy to make paper out of silk, and you can get some beautiful results very quickly if you use the Ironing Method.
I tried out a few variations, and made a few mistakes, and I would suggest that you work on the trial and error method too, and work out what you prefer.
There are various uses for this handmade silk paper, and you can make is as thin or thick as you like. Thick paper can be used for book covers and even writing paper, and can be painted or embellished and embroidered after its dry, and cut to any size you want.
The thin paper is great to add to any art textile design piece, and is especially dramatic as a window within a greetings card. You can also make beads by rolling strips of the paper and varnishing them – so I hope this gives you some ideas for xmas gifts!
You will need:
silk cocoon strippings (unwashed and still containing the natural gum, that the silkworms used to make the cocoons, which is what makes this method possible)
silk throwsters waste (again unwashed – this comes in white or various colours)
matawa silk hankies (these are unwrapped cocoons spread out into hemmed squares – see my post on silk worms)
other odds and ends to add in when you are making the paper, such as bits of silk carrier rods, cut silk fibres, pieces of silk lap, washed throwsters waste, glitter, small beads or anything else that takes your fancy!
an iron and board or table
non stick greaseproof baking paper – must be non stick otherwise you won’t be able to peel the paper off
small spray bottle filled with ordinary water
I have put together a pack with the basics for you…depending of what size you make, it should be enough for 5- 10 pieces. See above for how to buy it!
Cut two pieces of the baking paper and lay one on your ironing surface, then pull out strands of the silk cocoon strippings and lay in a thin rough circle or square on top of the baking paper.
Then spray with water and place the other sheet of baking paper on top and iron the sandwich.
Lift the top paper and add some more silk strippings, and repeat as above. You can continue this process until you get the thickness you want – or you can …..
….. add one thin silk hankie on top of the ironed silk, then another thin layer of the silk strippings, spray and iron. The silk hankie does not contain gum so you need to add the strippings to fuse them.
The idea of using the silk hankie is to give a thin net that will allow you to keep some gaps in the finished paper. Lift the piece up and see if you want to add some more silk strippings. The paper will still be wet so work carefully.
Once you are happy with the piece of paper you have made, pull it off the bottom baking sheet and allow to dry. You will find you have made a very thin sheet of stable paper. The edges of the hankie will need to be cut off, as they will probably not have been stabilised.
Please note, when experimenting, you need to balance the thicknesses on each side of the hankie, and if you decide to add another one, you can. Silk hankies can be dyed before you use them and will add some lovely colours to your paper.
You don’t need to use the silk hankies – this is another version where I tried adding some white silk throwsters waste, a little washed dyed silk throwsters waste and some coloured glitter.
I wasn’t sure I liked it all that much, but its just to give you some ideas.
This is the finished dried piece. Its a lot thicker than the first piece, and you need to fill all the gaps before you dry it!
If you would like to share your pictures of the paper you make, I will be happy to put them up on another post so that others can see them and get inspiration! Please email them to me referencing “the ironing method’. If you don’t have my email address, please use the CONTACT ME page.
To make things a bit clearer, you might like to watch this video I found on U-tube!