Before my mini existential crisis hit last night - and thank all of you for your thoughtful hugs and comments and emails - here's what I was up to.
My friend Tejal is getting married. She asked me if I would make scarves for her to give as a present for each of her bridesmaids. She said I could do whatever I wanted.
First I pinned each scarf to a foam board. It's foam core, covered in felt, then covered in plastic. Then with a backing cloth pinned to it to absorb extra dye. In case you're wondering about the ugly stripey sheets behind the scarves.
As Tej is Indian, I looked through Betty's extensive design book collection and chose this beautiful, simple but intricate Indian design. I burned the screen while I was still taking that screen printing class. The cool thing about screen printing is you can use the same image over and over.
So. I screen printed this design each of the scarves. Here's the little screen (up against the orange wall of my kitchen.)
This particular dye needs to be heat set in order to be color-fast. So I steamed them to set the dye. This involves rolling them up in newspaper and setting them in a steaming kettle (I use a double boiler with a plate on top of the steamer part) for half an hour. And then washed them out by hand.
One interesting thing I've learned about silk, even very nice silk, is that you can wash it in really hot water. They get the gum from the silk worms out of the silk fiber by washing it at some astoundingly hot temperature.
But anyway. It's a very time-intensive process. Which is why I need some cheap child labor.
Next I am going to over-dye each of them in a different way. I'll take pictures and post results when I'm done.