Tessa Spanton SWA Artist, tutor, writer


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This is where I write about some of the things that inspire my work,
news of exhibitions and works in progress

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Steam Fixing Silk Dyes

'Roses'  long silk scarf was steamed using the following method.

This process can be done on your hob and is similar to steaming a Christmas pudding.

 IMPORTANT If you have used coloured waterbased outliners (guttas) dry iron first to fix the colour in the outliner. otherwise it will probably run. Dry iron on medium heat for several minutes.

To steam fix dyes into silk, lay the dry silk onto a piece of cotton that is larger than the piece of silk, tuck the extra in over the silk and loosely roll it up like a Swiss roll. If you don’t have cotton, use tissue paper instead. This is to ensure that no one part of the painted silk is touching another before the colours have been fixed.

Curl this round like a Danish pastry so that it will fit the steamer.

Some silk painters make a foil cap to cover the bundle, I prefer to wrap it in foil, a bit like a Cornish pasty, crimping the foil together at the top to keep water droplets out.

Place the parcel crimp side down in a steamer or on a trivet or upturned bowl in a pan. Add some water making sure that it doesn’t touch the parcel. 
How long you steam for depends on the size of the item. I would give a long scarf about an hour and deep colours or several scarves together longer, up to 3 hours. Some makes of dye eg Marabu need the full 3 hours.

Important, check the water level regularly and top up. I set a timer for 30 mins and then check. If it boils dry the silk might scorch.
When you remove the silk from the parcel take care as it will be very hot.

Rinse to remove any excess dye, blot between towels then iron while damp.
If you used salt for effects it is important to rinse the scarf well to remove any traces of salt as this can over time rot the silk.

Have fun!