Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Made a Marbled Silk Scarf!

I made this great scarf at the Bethlehem (PA) Christkindlmarkt this month. There, among the stalls filled with handcrafted holiday gifts, was a large work area with three long, rectangular vats filled with what looked like water with paint floating on top (see left). The area was mobbed with people watching and people doing, and soon I went from a watcher to a doer! This was the perfect Christmas gift from Fred (who also shot these photos)--crafting in a new medium I had never worked with and ending up with a beautiful silk scarf (and I wear scarves).

First, I was invited to choose colors. When in doubt or on the spot, I choose colors of the sea: blues, deep greens, rich purples. My scarf coach, who was very helpful, suggested some bright greens and yellows, and I agreed they would contrast well. The paints were all in plastic squeeze bottles like you might find ketchup in at a casual hamburger joint with red-and-white checked tablecloths. Some of the paints were really thin, and others were thick. My scarf coach knew them all by number and advised me which would spread a lot and which would just sit on the liquid in the vat. (That liquid turned out to be sizing and helps the paint stay on the silk.)

I squirted my paint colors onto the liquid. The resulting blob design (see right) was interesting and I could have stopped there. My scarf coach pointed out the samples on the wall: the French swirl design, the feathered design, and the plain blobs. That feathered design was tempting, and the scarf creator before me made a very cool feathered scarf that turned into a peacock design. Keeping my ocean inspiration in mind, I chose the French swirls. I was to poke a metal stylus into the floating blobs and draw a circle. This dragged the paint into the swirl design. I worked my way down the paint blobs in the vat making swirls and watching what the paint did. That's what I'm doing in the photo to the left.

My scarf coach then suggested adding a flower on either end, and we chose a nice pepto-pink for that. We put a big pink blob at either end of the vat, and a small white blob in the center of each flower. To make the flower I was to take the stylus and draw four lines from the outside of the flower to the center. Then the small white blob in the center got swirled. You can see me making a flower in the last picture.

Okay, so now the paint design is sitting in the vat, ready. My scarf coach pulled a long white silk scarf from a box of many. We each held the corners of a short end of the scarf and placed it on top of the paint for a few seconds. We removed it, and the scarf coach brought us over to a bucket of water. She dunked my creation in there for a rinse, and and then we stretched it out for a look. It was beautiful! That paint stayed on the silk just like it had been in the vat.

My scarf got stuffed in a plastic zipper bag with instructions on what to do when I got home: rinse, gently squeeze out excess water, hang to dry, and iron. It's one good-looking scarf. I've worn it twice so far and gotten lots of compliments and inquiries on the process.

If you're interested you can actually make your own scarf! Look here: http://www.ebrurichsilkdesigns.com/

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