Sunday, November 2, 2008

How to make silk paper - tutorial

I love making silk paper - it’s messy, wet and tons of fun to play with :-) Ready to get messy?

As always, just a gentle reminder - this is an original tutorial, designed and written by myself. It's copyright and may not be copied or transferred without my direct permission.

For this project I’m using raw silk in a “cap”, but you’ll probably find silk hankies (not to be confused with the kind you blow your nose with!) more easily. Meinke Toy has several different silk products, but I’d start with silk hankies.

Tease the silk out onto a mesh surface. I’m using a paper-making tray, but you can even just tape the edges of door screen mesh and use that. It’s going to look like a light, fluffy pile - but don’t worry, it’s going to look like paper soon!

Now either stick the whole pile of silk under a tap, spray it with a spray bottle, or what I’m using, a spray shower. You need to throughly soak the silk fibers - use your fingers to massage the water into the surface. Here’s what it looks like when it’s half-soaked through:

I just plopped the entire screen into my bathtub to do this. When I first began making silk paper, I would gently spray it down with a plant mister… and you know what? It takes hours to make silk paper that way! The silk must be completely soaked through, any patches that are dry or just damp won’t form a nice firm surface.

Keep massaging the silk until it looks like this - no dry patches and it’s evenly soaked through:

Now we need to glue all those lovely silk fibers together :-)

I like to place the screen onto a plastic lid, or other surface that won’t leak all over the place.

I’m using Golden’s GAC 900, an acrylic fabric medium, but you can use any textile medium - or white glue mixed half and half with water. Spread it over the surface as evenly as you can:

Use your fingers to massage the fabric medium into the fibers, until it’s evenly worked through - like this:

You’ve got a choice at this point. You can let the paper dry like this, and embellish it when it’s dry, or you can bring the paint out :-)

I’m using Dye-Na-Flo to paint the wet surface. It works particularly well for projects like this because the paint acts like water color paint on the wet fiber. You’ll get a fluid, soft surface if you paint the silk wet.

Here’s how I painted this piece of silk paper:

Let it dry overnight and then peel it off the screen. Leave that to dry on a flat surface until it’s completely dry. We’ll embellish and embroider it next time!

images & tutorial are copyright 2008 C Findlay-Harder


  1. Do you think it would work to use Bamboo Silk yarn (70% bamboo, 30% silk)?