There are several ways of making silk paper. I use the iron method with silk cocoon strippings, where the outer sericin (or gum) in the fibre has not been removed during the industrial process. All silk comes from the cocoon produced by the silk worm (remember them? I think we all had them as 'pets' when we were children).
To make silk paper, I lay out the silk fibers, mist it with water, and iron it between sheets of baking paper. The addition of moisture and heat activates the sericin and softens it enough for it to bind the fibres together. When the paper is cool and has dried, the sericin reverts to its natural state and glues the fibres permanently.
I'm addicted to making silk paper.... I love how I can easily turn a silk by-product into a beautiful soft textured surface on which I can print. I prefer to lay down the fibres in a random manner (which suits my style!) so the resulting paper is uneven and full of 'holes'. This is a perfect result, making the paper transparent and light in places, but still with plenty of strength.
For my exhibition, I have completed an artists book using silk paper and today I'm working on a large hanging piece, about 3 metres long. The photos below are of the hanging piece in progress, before printing.
|Silk cocoon strippings,|
bought online from Silksational $13 for 100g
|laying out the fibres, similar to|
|Misting with water|
|Ironing between sheets of baking paper.|
This is the only sort of ironing I enjoy!
|The completed sheet of silk paper, 3m long.|
Ready for printing.
|Detail from my artist book 'Ephemeral',|
showing monprints on silk paper.