Thursday, 4 February 2010

Silk Paper Making

I have experimented with several ways of making a
material from the cleaned and natural throwsters waste. I found a book in the library about how to use different types of silk fibres to make paper (Handmade Silk Paper by Kath Russon, Search Press, 1999) and have been using the technique from the book to make paper for my site model.

How to Make Silk Paper:

  1. Protect your work surface with newspaper/plastic.
  2. On top of the newspaper lay down a sheet of fine plastic net.
  3. Firmly pull the fibres apart and lay down the handfuls of silk so that they overlap slightly.
  4. Cover the sheet of net to the desired thickness.
  5. Place a second sheet of net over the top to stop the fibres moving.
  6. Use your hands to work wall paper paste into the fibres. Use firm circular movements to press the paste through the net.
  7. Turn over the 2 sheets of net and do the same on the reverse to make sure that all the fibres are soaked in the paste.
  8. Carefully peel off the top layer of net.
  9. Leave the fibres to dry either in a warm place or hung on a washing line.
  10. Once the fibres are totally dry you can peel them away from the net and you are left with the finished paper.

Examples of silk paper made from hand dyed throwsters waste:

I also learnt from the book that it is possible to create objects from the paper when it is wet. The wet fibres can be carefully shaped around molds in a similar way to paper mache. You can also shape dry paper by dampening it with a water spray.

I decided to use this process to make my site model. I had been trying to decide for a while what materials to use to create the model as I didn't want to just use foam board or MDF as I felt that these materials did not accurately represent the atmosphere and varied textures of the area. I eventually decided to use layered cardboard to make the main buildings and then silk paper to make the 2 buildings that I am planning on using for my project. I liked the idea of the cardboard as it was completely recycled from boxes that I had in my house and the material had a history, a previous use that makes it more interesting than the very precise and white architectural models that you see so often. For the silk models I created molds from left over grey board, wrapped them in clingfilm and then draped the wet silk fibres over. I then left them to dry overnight before removing the molds.

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