Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I think they're going to be pretty

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.


  1. This is SO cool. Are the pics out of order though? How did they start red and end up white? I am going to have to find one of these classes - was it just called a screen printing class?

  2. MI - You are right - that's confusing. I just switched the picture order.

    I took a textile class, and screen printing was a very small part of it, and that's how I started doing this. Then last semester I took a screen printing class, but discovered that ink on paper just doesn't excite me the way fabric does. So I'm back to dye and fabric.

    CA has so many amazing colleges and community colleges, I imagine you have great classes available nearby. Depending on what you want to do - fabric or paper - I'd Google "surface design" and "textiles" or "fiber" just "screen printing" or "printmaking" with your zip code and see what you come up with.

  3. Beautiful - I envy your talent.

  4. You're so talented! It looks beautiful.

  5. These are SO gorgeous. The design, the color, everything. I love how they shimmer!

  6. OMG, Lis, gorgeous!! You're a real renaissance woman!

  7. Wow. That is really beautiful. Careful - you might be getting more requests....

  8. They're great, I can't wait to see how they all turn out. Gorgeous!!

  9. Fascinating. It totally amazes me the things people can do in their spare time. Walking down the street I'm sure nobody would guess you had this ability. Looking at the results one would hardly assume they were made by a normal person after work instead of in some sweatshop in Bangladesh.

  10. HKW - Thank you! I envy your ability to host a dinner party - something I'm totally unable to do.

    Moosie - Thank you!

    BBG - Thank you! It's silk charmeuse, so very shiny!

    AF - Ah, I'm not, but I'm glad you think so. Thanks. :)

    G&D - I can't wait to see how they turn out either! I will figure them out one by one.

    2x4 - It's true - people who don't really know me are always surprised. And your typical DC person is writing legal briefs rather than dyeing scarves.

    DCup - Thank you! I might be up for some later, but this is my last big project for a while.

  11. Cute AND artsy, you are a fine woman indeed.


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