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Silk Papermaking / Silk Fusion

Paper made from silk fibresSilk papermaking (or silk fusion) is similar to Papier-mâché. The fibres are sandwiched between two pieces of mesh netting and then stuck together using an adhesive, such as CMC paste.

Other items can be included with the silk fibres, such as dried petals and skeleton leaves, or the silk papermaking process can be applied to any absorbent, natural fibre such as cotton sliver or shredded paper.

This stack of highly textured and colourful silk paper, made by Linda Chapman, has been created using undyed and hand-dyed silk fibres and skeleton leaves with the acrylic based silk paper medium. The medium is water resistant and makes a harder, crispier paper than paper made using CMC.

Handmade Cotton Paper

This image, right, shows paper created using White Cotton Sliver and the Natural Coloured Red and Green Cotton Sliver.

The cotton fibre is very absorbent and is glued well using the silk papermaking technique. The fibre creates a soft textured paper when made with CMC.

Linda created the decorative piece below by using strips of Tissutex, hand-dyed silk fibres and skeleton leaves.

Silk fusion of fibres and tissutex


Materials for Silk Paper:

  • approx. 25gm silk fibre (cotton fibres work equally well with this method)
  • 2 sheets netting (the netting should to be slightly larger than the finished paper)
  • CMC paste (methyl cellulose) or Silk Paper Medium or other cellulose adhesive
  • small sponge

Instructions:

  1. Protect surfaces with plastic sheeting and place 1 sheet of the netting on top of it.
  2. Dissolve adhesive in a jug or bowl of water. The best method is to add the powder to very hot water, then continue mixing gently until it has cooled. Start with half the final amount of hot water, add the powder, then top up with cold water. If you don't mix long enough you will find a slab of gelled methocel at the bottom of the container later.
  3. Pull off a small handful of silk fibre. Hold it firmly with the heel of one hand and pull out lengths of fibre approx. 3-4cm wide and 6-8cm long.
  4. Leaving a border around your netting, start at the top left hand corner and lay down chunks of fibre in a row, overlapping each piece as you go. Continue until you have created a row approx. 30cm wide.
  5. Begin another row overlapping the fibres from the previous row and continue until the fibres cover an area of approx. 30cm x 20cm. Place the second sheet of netting on top.
  6. Pour some of the prepared glue solution onto the centre of the netting and work it into the fibres using a circular motion. Using your fingers, push the solution to the edges of the 'paper', adding more when necessary. Intermittently, carefully lift the back netting to ensure the fibres are wetted all the way through.
  7. You can remove the top netting from the 'paper' prior to drying it, (or leave it in place to add texture to the surface). Remove netting slowly from one corner and carefully release fibres that have adhered to it. Place paper on a cake cooling tray to dry flat and allow circulation of air.
  8. Finally, lift the corner of the back netting from the dried paper and remove slowly.

Silk Papermaking using Sericin

Paper made from waste silk

Any silk fibre which contains the original sericin ‘glue’, is the basis of a paper. Gummy Reeled Silk, Throwsters Waste, Cocoons and Carded Cocoon Strippings still retain the naturally occurring sericin which maintains the structure of the silk cocoon. The ‘glue’ can be activated by spreading the fibres on baking parchment, spraying with water, covering with another sheet of parchment and then ironing on a medium setting until the fibre is dry. This image shows hand-dyed Throwsters Waste 'paper'.

Try this:

  1. Paper fusion using paints and sericin Spread a layer of cocoon strippings, carrier rods or throwster’s waste onto baking parchment. Add coloured fibres of silk, wool or cotton, sequins, threads, leaves, dried petals, in fact you can add anything which withstands a little heat. The paper shown here, has been created using Carded Cocoon Strippings and Carrier Rods, it has been coloured with silk paints and gold Jacquard Lumiere paint.
  2. Spread fibres in a light layer over the top to hold the decoration and spray lightly with water. If you are using undyed fibres, spray silk paint onto the mass to add colour, before ironing.
  3. Iron over a second piece of parchment on a ‘medium’ setting until the fibre is dry and not sticking to the paper. Peel off the parchment when dry.
  4. You can colour the paper with dye or use iron-fix silk paints.
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