June 04, 2014

In case you were curious...

I've been dying to do some more Silk Fusion lately. I was able to score some more dyed tussah silk from The Wacky Windmill a couple weeks ago. Plus I still had some left over from the workshop I attended. I had more than enough Tussah Silk to play around with :-) That made me a happy girl!

I've had a couple friends that had no idea what Silk Fusion was, or how to even do it. So I decided to do a post on it. I guess it'll be a guideline. I am no expert by any means, but after the first time you create one it's really enjoyable :-)

First up, the supplies your going to need:
-dyed tussah silk
-undyed tussah silk (if your making fabric)
-large garbage bag or a tarp (to cover your work space)
-small garbage bag (to transfer your silk fusion, or you can just wrap it up in the big garbage bag if your not planning on doing anymore)
-a hanging apparatus (like a clothes line or something you can use to hang your silk fusion to dry)
-window screen or tulle in the length needed for the project. Keep in mind that you are sandwiching your silk fusion in the window screen or tulle. I have used both and prefer the window screen. You can get wrinkles when using tulle.
-dish soap
-a paint brush. Not a foam brush!
-a plastic container (like a margarine container). If you are doing more than one silk fusion project, you'll probably want 2 plastic containers. One for the soapy water and one for the textile medium.
-Textile Medium. I used FolkArt Textile Medium from Shuttleworks.
-a plain sponge
-clothes line pins
-lemon juice

I cut the large garbage bag down the side so I could use it to cover my island table in my kitchen. It worked awesome. Then I laid out my window screen that I had pre-cut to the size I wanted. I had it folded in the center. It's a pain if you have 2 separate pieces because it can pretty much move freely when your trying to wet out the fiber. I let the screen flip open and rubbed my hands in lemon juice. Let your hands dry. This will help when your handling the tussah. Otherwise the silk will snag on any dry skin on your hands and make a mess.

If your making fabric you'll be using the undyed tussah silk for the first layer. If your doing a thinner 1 layer fabric you can use the dyed tussah silk. You'll need to divide the undyed silk first, so I held my hands about 4 inches apart holding the silk and gently pulled, separating the fiber. I then divided this section into 4 sections length wise. So now you'll have 4 long sections. You'll use these thinner sections to  make the first layer.

I laid one of the sections down on the window screen on the lower half of the screen, placed my left palm on the edge of the silk and gently pulled with my right hand. It will separate the fiber and give you a light wispy line of fiber. If it's thicker your going to want to divide your section length wise again and possibly fluff it up a bit. If it looks good, then your going to keep going top to bottom in a column, with a slight overlap. Once your done the first column your going to create a column right next to it, with a slight overlap as well. Keep with this pattern until you've made it the size you need.

Then your going to do the same thing only going the other way for the second layer.

Then for the 3rd layer you can use your dyed Tussah Silk. I worked in the columns then went back and added a little extra colored silk to the areas I wanted to get it to look how I wanted it to.

Now your going to "sandwich" the Tussah Silk with the other half of the screen. Then your going to get the soapy water ready. I added a drop of the dish soap to the plastic container and added warm water. Your going to use the paintbrush to wet out the fiber now.

Your going to add as much water as necessary. I used a whole container of soapy water on the top side. Your going to work the water in by painting the fiber in the direction of the fibers. If you work it in another direction it will move the fiber and you'll see the undyed tussah silk from the bottom 2 layers.

Keep working the water until you think that it's saturated enough. Your then going to flip your sandwich so the bottom is facing up. Then your going to wet out the bottom side too.

Once you've done both sides, it's time to check to see if there are any bubbles or dryer sections. Your going to flip the sandwich again so it's right side up. Then you are going to take your hands and rub the fiber in the direction of the fiber to gently push out any extra water or air bubbles.

If you notice that any sections have air bubbles or dryer sections you are going to repeat the wetting out process (after you've pushed out any air bubbles) until the fiber is completely wet. If any section of the fiber is dry, it won't laminate properly when you add the Textile Medium. If it's well saturated, then you can repeat rubbing the fiber to take out any excess moisture. It's not imperative that you get it completely dry but if your rubbing the fiber and there isn't a river of water coming out the side of the fiber then your fine.

Use the sponge to wipe up any extra water that you've pushed out.

Now it's time to add the Textile Medium. I poured it into the plastic container and started painting it on.

You want to make sure that your applying an even coat and work it in, as you did with the soapy water. You won't need to use a ton of the Textile Medium but use as much as you feel you'll need. Once you've applied an even layer to the top, flip your sandwich over and do the back side as well. If there is any excess moisture wipe it up with the sponge.

Now your going to lay a garbage bag and some newspaper under where you plan on hanging your Silk Fusion. Then you can transfer it. I wrapped it up in the garbage bag that I had put on my work surface. I folded the ends of the garbage bag in and picked it up by the edges and carefully transferred it to my basement. I didn't want to drip on my floor or carpet. I have enough crusties on the carpet from my daughter's half eaten Cheerios ;-) The you'll pin it up and let it drip out. It's important to hang it up. It lets all the excess moisture and Textile Medium drip out. If you have it hanging in the middle of the Silk Fusion you are going to have an obvious crease that you will never get out.

I let mine hang to dry for 3 days. I went down and gave it a light squeeze to see if there was any moisture left in it. You want to make sure that it's completely dry otherwise when you try to separate the screen your going to de-laminate the fibers and possibly ruin your Silk Fusion. Chances are, it will most likely be dry. Unless you had some thicker and thinner sections in the fiber. Your going to carefully remove the screen then it's time to iron your Silk Fusion out. I put an old sheet down and covered the Silk Fusion with another part of the sheet to iron. You'll want to use the appropriate setting for silk and take your time so you don't crease the fabric.

Then you can admire your Silk Fusion :-)

Now what to make? I found a couple beautiful projects on Pinterest using Silk Fusion. I'm completely envious!

 And these 3 beauties are by Tamara Leberer. From her Silk Fusion Gallery.

These works of art are beyond inspiring. I'm not sure I have the required patience or skill to do it. Maybe one day, but not right now ;-)

Happy Knitting :-)

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