Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blue Twig Studio - Jan Product Review and Project Step-Outs

This month's Blue Twig Studio product was a Treenway Silks package: Creative Silk Pack, in Winter Night Sky colors. It contains (8-10) silk hankies, (5) silk cocoons, (5-6) silk carrier rods, and some degummed throwsters silk. For those that are unfamiliar with these fibers: Silk hankies are 10" squares of silk fibers held together with a "selvegde.." The Bombyx cocoons are the home of the Bombyx silk worm and are spun of a continuous thread one mile long. They can be cut, painted, and sewn. The carrier rods are a by-product of reeling the silk from the cocoon. Some of the filaments get wound around the machinery. This silk is then slit and removed. The rods are 5-5 1/2" long when whole and unscrunched.  The degummed throwsters silk comes from a "throwster" who takes several silk filaments, assembles and twists (throws) the silk to create a reeled silk yarn that is substantial enough for weaving or knitting. These fibers, cocoons, and rods can be dyed in many colors. In the Winter Night Sky pack, the various silk fibers are dyed in shades of blue to purple.
Treenway Silks Creative Silk Pack in Winter Night Sky colors.
Contains silk hankies, cocoons, carrier rods, and degummed throwsters silk fibers.
Project:  This product gave me some thought on the best way to use it. I love working with silk fibers. However, you cannot felt silk without adding some wool fibers to trap the silk. Wool has little barbs that hold them together, but silk does not. I took a class last year with Noriko Endo (a Japanese fiber artist) on using silk fibers. She made beautiful silk scarves and wall hangings. I decided to do a silk scarf. I cheated by using a white silk scarf as a base, instead of just fibers, as Noriko Endo had us do in class (as there were not enough fibers in the package for me to make a scarf).

8mm Habotai silk scarf - 8" wide x 54" long.
First, I painted the scarf using a variety of paints: Pebeo Setasilk and Setacolor shimmers in greens, blues, and purples, and silver; and Liquitex Acrylic Inks in copper and bronze.

Pebeo Setasilk and Setacolor Shimmer
fabric paints in purples, blues, greens, and silver.
Liquitex Acrylic Ink in bronze and copper.
One end of the scarf after the painting has been completed and heat-set.

A couple other products that I used were Angelina fibers to add glitz and glimmer to the silk fibers, netting to trap the silk and Angelina fibers, and water soluble stabilizer to hold the layers together until I stitched them.

Angelina several shades of blue, bronze and copper.

Netting to trap the silk fibers between it and the silk scarf.
Water Soluble Stabilizer

One very necessary item that is needed when working with silk fibers is hand lotion. The silk fibers tend to stick to fingers unless lotion is applied frequently. So keep a jar or bottle handy while working with the silk fibers.

Hand lotion - very necessary for working with silk fibers.
When pulling silk fibers from a silk hankie, stretch the fibers out to create a thin layer.

Stretching the silk fibers of a hankie apart to create a thin layer.
Pulling off a piece of a silk hankie to work with.

Since I used a silk scarf for the base, I applied thin layers of the silk hankies to create texture and interest. (If a silk scarf base is not used, then a base created from multiple thin layers of the silk hankies applied in opposing directions on top of a layer of heavy water soluble stabilizer is necessary.) Besides the thin layers of the silk hankies, I added thin strips of the carrier rods, strings of the degummed throwsters silk, a whole carrier rod, Angelina fibers, and some silk flowers that I had in my silk fiber stash to the scarf.
A small portion of the scarf showing the thin layers from the silk hankies, curly
 strings from the degummed throwsters silk, thin strips of the carrier rods, silk 
flowers, and Angelina fibers laid on top of the painted silk scarf base.

After adding all the fibers, I added a layer of netting to trap the fibers and a layer of light-weight water soluble stabilizer to hold it all together. I sewed the layers together on my sewing machine using metallic threads and silk threads for further embellishment. I stitched approximately 8-10 curved lines lengthwise down the scarf. I also stitched across the short ends. (If creating a base of silk fibers, rather than using a silk scarf, then netting is not needed, as it is necessary to machine stitch with small circles no larger than 1/4" in diameter to hold the silk fibers together.)

Once I was done with the machine stitching, I further embellished the scarf with embroidery using silk floss. Ruth Chandler's book, Modern Hand Stitching, is a good resource for stitches.  I added buttonhole, fly, lazy daisy, and seed stitches. I also added beading to the silk flowers, lazy daisy flowers, and the silk carrier rods. Finally I cut a couple of the cocoons in half lengthwise, added beads to them and hand-stitched them to the scarf.

Hand-painted silk scarf embellished with silk hankies, silk carrier rods,
silk cocoons, degummed throwsters silk, Angelina fibers, embroidery and beading.
Detail of completed silk scarf.

Product Review:  The Treenway Silk Creative Silk Pack was fun. The silk fibers can be used in many wonderful ways. Winter Night Sky is just one of many colors the dyed fibers come in. Just remember to keep hand lotion available when handling the silk fibers to keep them from clinging to your fingers and getting everywhere!

Keep creating!!