Silk Degrees

Remember Boz Scaggs’ breakthrough album, “Silk Degrees”? It came out in 1976, and it was just about the sexiest thing I ever heard.  The recent sultry days in Memphis brought back the memory of his seductive voice from that album.  And believe it or not, that was what inspired me to do some work with silk which is something I rarely do.

I made two pieces of silk fusion paper by layering some carded tussah silk noils between two layers of soy silk roving. I added embellishments to each piece to give it color and texture. Most of these were  items that I had in my stash:  cochineal  dyed Lincoln wool fiber, angelina fibers, gold metallic flakes, skeleton leaves, angel wings.

Handmade silk fusion paper with cochineal dyed Lincoln wool fiber

Handmade silk fusion paper with cochineal dyed Lincoln wool fiber

Handmade silk fusion paper with skeleton leaves and angelina fibers

Handmade silk fusion paper with skeleton leaves and angelina fibers

So, you’re asking, what is silk fusion?  Silk fusion is silk paper fused from silk roving or sliver  using a textile medium or adhesive.   Treenway Silks has a good description of the process as well as a little bit of history. A good source offering instructions for a variety of silk fusion projects is Kath Russon’s book, Handmade Silk Paper.

Handmade Silk Paper by Kath Russon

Handmade Silk Paper by Kath Russon

Here is a free tutorial on making your own silk fusion presented by Sue Bleiweiss. A project can be completed in a very short time.  The longest part is actually waiting for the silk fusion to dry as that takes 24 hours.

The two pieces I made will probably become covers for blank journals.  But I am hoping to experiment more with 3 dimensional silk fusion such as masks and small sculptures.

As far as journals, I have been working on those as well.  I made one with some left over Kaffe Fassett fabric.  For this I made two covers with Peltex sandwiched in between the fabric. I used a zig zag stitch all around the edge of each cover. To attach the covers to the signatures, I used a double needle coptic stitch.  That is, each binding station required two needles, and as there were 3 stations in this binding, I was sewing with 6 needles at the same time. That beautiful handmade Thai mango paper that I love so much makes its appearance again as an end paper here.

Journal with fabric covers and double needle coptic stitch

Journal with fabric covers and double needle coptic stitch

Inside cover of Journal

Inside cover of Journal with handmade Thai mango paper as end paper

Now I still had some covers left  that I had made a few months ago using the handmade Thai mango paper. I decided to try out one of the stitches I admired in Keith Smith’s book, Non-Adhesive Binding Books Without Paste or Glue. This one is “long stitch with chain” found on page 164 of volume I.  My book didn’t have a spine cover, so instead I used sewing supports that were cut from ultrasuede fabric, then the supports were glued to the inside covers of the book. I used a gold 5/2 pearl cotton that I rubbed on a block of beeswax for the stitching.

Book bound with long stitch with chain

Book bound with long stitch with chain

I like the effect of the long stitch alternating with the chain stitch.  It adds a decorative element to the spine. I can see after doing this, that long stitch can probably be used together with several different stitches to add some interest in the binding.

Still hot here in Memphis, 96 degrees is what I hear it is.  But I am still hearing that luscious voice whispering in my ear: Three a.m. its me again and wouldn’t you know things would have to end this way…..

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2 Responses

  1. I adore Boz Scaggs! It’s Harbour Lights for me on the album….I really enjoyed seeing your silk fusion, just lovely.

  2. Thanks, Lynette. I’m planning on working on more silk fusion projects. It’s a great medium!

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