Posted in Art, creativity

Silk Paper Workshop

At our Quilt Guild annual retreat this past weekend Laine Canivet taught a small group of us how to make silk paper from silk roving.

Here’s some yummy inspiration by Laine:

photo(23)A theatre purse with hand-made tassel and some purple beads.

Laine gave us a quick demo of the basic process


and then we all worked on our first individual pieces.  The group was small enough that Laine was able to guide us along and make another sheet for herself.

The next project was making scrunchies.


From the photo you might think these are hard to do but really they aren’t.

Again, there was wonderful synergy happening and lots of “What if?” thinking going on.  Laine was inspired to make a giant scrunchie just to see what would happen.  It’s huge and will make a dramatic artwork.

Here’s my own “what if?” piece.


Laine mentioned that one can make vessels by covering a form with food wrap for ease of removal, then draping wet silk paper over it and letting it dry.  My first thought was “rats, no food wrap!”  Then I remembered I had packed several large trash bags to protect the work surface from the dye, and not all had been used.  A few quick snips and I had plastic sheeting to drape over a large upturnedphoto(30) yoghourt container.  The nice thing was the way the plastic draped made it possible to achieve wonderful fluting, whereas food wrap would cling to the mold and you’d end up with the less interesting shape of a yoghourt pot.

Here are a couple of views of the outside now that it’s finished drying

photo(29)  And here is the inside.  It’s shinier and that’s one thing I like about it.



I also intentionally played with using both red and green roving, laying the two layers of the paper in opposite directions and colour placement in order to achieve some of the wonderful colours found in rhubarb and Swiss chard, where red and green fuse.  It’s one colour combination that has particularly fascinated me since I started dyeing fabrics.

This is a first experiment and for the next one will aim at a more  defined, less wispy edge.


What I liked about this workshop and process:

  • The chance to play around with messy, wet ingredients!
  • A fairly easy way to dye silk
  • The lustrous colours silk gives that no other textile can approach
  • Layering and transparency effects
  • All the other possibilities I have yet to try such as beads, stamping on silk paper, painting it, sewing it, etc.


  • Precisely because it’s wet and messy you need both space AND time to do it with no interruptions
  • Dry roving flies all over so you have to work in an enclosed space with no cross breezes, at least until you have added water and textile medium
  • Cost of the materials — imported from the U.S. and pricey to begin with.  We certainly appreciated Laine’s very fair kit fee and the leftover supplies in it so will be able to do more at home.  It’s silk, so will always be expensive.  I can see I need to sell some bowls so I can afford to keep going!
Posted in beading, creativity, quilting

Blogger’s Quilt Festival


It occurs to me that I still haven’t posted the quilt I made in the Ana Buzzalino workshop that set me off on my current explorations.

And since it’s the Spring Blogger’s Quilt Festival, this is the perfect opportunity to share.  So do hop off  over there and vote for your favourites.  This is in the art quilt category and is 12 inches wide and 39-1/2 long.

And on the topic of voting … I put a poll which is just two posts back from this one, requesting artistic feedback, so please feel free to vote on that and help with a current project too.

Ana is a very encouraging teacher who brought many of her pieces to the workshop where we could study her techniques as we went along.  There were several examples of the Birds on a Wire that we made in the workshop, also others using the technique of piecing mixed fabrics straight onto foundation, batting and backing and then overdyeing the whole piece.

Mine includes white on white prints, black and white cotton, broderie anglaise, upholstery fabric, heavy cotton that feels like wool, assorted trims, and seersucker.  Some of these were fabrics I never thought I’d really be able to use.

beading, assorted b/w prints, eyelet trim at top
beading, assorted b/w prints, eyelet trim at top


I mixed peach and tangerine fibre reactive dye powders from Dharma to achieve my colour.  It’s fascinating to see how each fabric dyes differently, yet everything goes well together.


This detail shows dupioni silk, a strip of hook tape which I bought for the workshop because it’s polyester cotton blend so I knew it would take some dye.

It also demonstrates Ana’s saying that there’s always a fix for everything.  A hook fell right at the edge and I had to snip it out to be able to sew the binding down.  This left an ugly hole because of the way the hooks are sewn into the tape.  I found a couple of beads and covered the hole with a trim.  There’s a row of seed beads towards the bottom of the piece (below the sitting birds) but sewing through all those layers was quite tough so I left it at one row.

Posted in creativity, quilting, surface design


My local fibre arts group FAD (Fibre Art and Design) has decided that our next meeting is to share our favourite websites and other sources of inspiration.  This post is so everyone will have a permanent record of mine, and perhaps we can all somehow link or find a way to share each others’ sources (not everyone blogs).


Transitions: Unlocking the Creative Quilter Within, by Andrea Balosky, That Patchwork Place, 1996

Contains a lot of info about creativity and has a good approach (working in series and using easy blocks).  Another thing I like about this book is that her examples are made with mostly commercial fabrics, to show that you can make an art quilt without throwing out your existing stash

Silk Unraveled: experiments in tearing, fusing, layering & stitching, by Lorna Moffat, Dragon Threads, 2008

Inspiring projects using silk in a variety of ways.  The author has lived overseas in Turkey and Malaysia.   The techniques in the book are simple and have many possibilities.


I have sketchbooks in various sizes going back years with quilt designs, websites, paint chips, postcards, quotes, notes from presentations at guild meetings and workshops, etc.  It’s interesting to look back and see how long some concepts have been percolating and how they’ve developed.

Also interesting is how the page size keeps increasing, although after the Gail Harker workshop I dialed it down a notch with one purse size one and one 9″ square sketchbook with heavy paper that will take acrylic paint.


Vivika Denegre, a Connecticut art quilter:

Professional quilter, very cool hip designs and big on challenging the rest of us:

Plus the rest of the blogroll too!

Posted in Uncategorized

Marbling – quick and dirty

This is a piece of silk I marbled in a Color Hues session at Satin Moon. Color Hues is a new dye product developed by a Seattle woman. It dyes protein based fabrics, i.e. silk and wool but not cotton (although my dyeing t-shirt kept some splashes!) It is very easy to use and the fabric seems to suck the colour out of the water, unlike Procion dyes where you can rinse and rinse and see wonderful bright colour running down the drain. Also no need to heat set and no powdery chemicals so safer to use in a home setting.

Does blogging about being productive count as BEING productive? If so I could add a half hour onto my time for today.

  1. Day one: 4 hours 15 minutes
  2. Day two: (today) 5 hours 40 minutes

And spent more time painting color swatches for my next piece – yesterday I used EZ-TintZ and watercolor crayon pencils to get close to what I thought I wanted to do, and today I took that swatch to Michael’s to buy acrylics in the colors I picked. Still need to get freezer paper and get a template enlarged — the printer here won’t take a big enough piece of paper so I’ll have to go to Staples I guess.