Silk Mosaic

The fall palette is rich in colors: at this time, the work comes easily and with inspiration. It can be quiet and melancholic or suddenly amaze you with bright contrasts...

The aim of today's lesson is to work with silk pieces of different densities and some advices of how to decorate the felt. These silk pieces are the remnants of batik manufacture. The pieces also may lose their colors during felting process - that is normal. They differ in structure and density, but all of them are well fixed to the wool surface (although some of these pieces require special attention).

Using these properties, it is possible to make not only flat patterns but also to create perspective, three-dimensional drawings of lights and shadows. For example, put the densest pieces on the foreground and the thinnest pieces on the background and so on...

 

This time we'll focus on the most simple ornament, by the example of a simple seamless vest.

 

We'll need some silk pieces, 30-40gram(1-1.5oz) of viscose fibers and 18mcn Merino wool roving (see the table of average wool expense below):

Transfer vest pattern of your size (back and front details) on a yellow film and cut them out. Patterns are enlarged to allow for 30% shrinkage.

If your project will require straight lines - we'll need to prepare silk pieces in a special way. There are several methods, for example, it is possible to use starch or gelatin solution. Take one teaspoon of gelatin, pour a glass of water (as indicated in the recipe), gently dissolve and diluted with another glass.

 

Lay out the ironed silk pieces on a flat surface, take the brush and apply the solution over the entire fabric. Leave them dry and eventually you get thin sheets of silk "paper". The solution will washed out later, during felting process.

This is a "two-layer" wool layout - it’s more convenient for beginners. Arrows indicate the direction to lay out the wool. Place the free end of the wool in the direction of the arrow. Blue arrows indicate areas that need special attention; for example – the bottom edges, the wrap, bust and neck.

 

The arrows that cross the edges of the diagram indicate a 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1.5 to 2 cm) overlay allowance for bending. Arrows beyond the edges of the diagram indicate an additional strengthening layer.

 

Layer 1:

Layer 2:

Use the viscose as the first layer. Viscose will not felt on its own but can be added to your project as the lining which makes your vest durable with a nice texture inside.

Gently pull fibers apart. Moisten viscose fibers with warm soapy water.

 

Even you do not have a special ball brause sprinkler, you can use a simply PET bottle and drill the smallest holes in a cap.

Lay out merino wool following diagram. Don't forget about allowances for bending. Adhere to the wool consumption table on the back of this brochure. Thinnest wool layout provides easy fitting at the end of felting process.

After finishing the layout, cover with mesh and moisten the wool with warm soapy water and manually rub through the mesh.

Remove the mesh and lightly rub around armhole, neck and bottom in a circular motion forming a smooth edge; leaving "bending allowances" intact.

Turn over the template and continue laying out the front detail. Begin with viscose; then moisten and turn the allowances.

Spread the wool following diagram. Use radial layout at the breast area, covered with a thin wool layer.

If you want to get a smooth color transition, connect horizontal allowances by the free ends of the wool strands, and the second layer is vertical "butt-joint" connection.

Moisten and rub the wool, removing excess water with a towel, forming the open edges with circular movements.

Pay attention to the side part - it should not have any ripples.

Rub gently through the mesh with warm soapy water. Continue felting the flap detail so that it can be safely unfolded.

Mirror the template and continue laying out the second front detail in the same manner.

The background is randomly arranged thin viscose strands of different colors.

Once the base is ready, proceed to the decoration. Before you start, it's important to consider the composition. If you need precise and repetitive elements, it's better to use a film template.

 

For my example I'll use freestyle to keep it simple. Draw the contours with watercolor pencil.

Arrange the ornament pieces at a distance of no more than 1cm, if you want to obtain more textured surface.

Use pieces of different shades of the same color and different densities.

Moisten and gently rub through the mesh until decorative elements fixed on a wool surface. Remove excess water with a towel.

Another decorative technique, so-called "lamination": dense fabric under the thin silk gauze.

Thoroughly rub through the mesh.

Sometimes I use a technique called "inversion" (or positive/negative), using all the elements without waste.

Pay attention to the side part - it should not have any ripples. Rub through the mesh until fibers connected with wool surface.

Continue rubbing gently until all decorative elements fixed on a wool surface. Wrap your vest in the mesh and start rolling in different directions. The mesh is required for properly strengthening the decor. Remove excess water in a towel. From time to time, unfold your vest - watching to avoid any defects.

When you feel that the wool become dense - take off the template and continue rolling both sides (length and width). Try to form the edges and stretch out any ripples at the same time. Enlarge the breast area.

Working with a dense silk, you need to be patient. Finally, the surface texture depends on your felting method. If your hands moves with a small amplitude - the pattern will have a small ripples structure. Most intensive movements gives you more volumetric folds.

One little piece of advice - no need to hurry, no unnecessary effort needed. The felting process is similar to kneading the dough.  It is interesting to observe how the wool in your hands turns into compliant clay from which you can sculpt anything.

 

This felt has a thin, smooth structure - soft and pleasant to the touch.

Rinse out the vest in warm water, then continue to felt adding fresh soapy water; continue until it becomes suitable for the first fitting. Don't fit too much - you need to feel free while wearing it. Use a slightly larger mannequin.

 

Rinse out thoroughly until the water is not sudsy. Leave your vest to dry at the mannequin (or on hangers, if you do not have a mannequin) then iron and finish the job - sew the fasteners. I recommend you to use sewing press buttons and cotton tape o straight the hem edge.

In conclusion, the small gallery of works, in which have been used different techniques of working with silk pieces.

As you can see, the combination of felt and silk gives us unlimited opportunities for creativity

 

I wish you a beautiful autumn mood, love and inspiration.

P. S. "Silk Mosaic" project at the "Crow's Nest" store:

 

http://crowsnest.ru/store.html#!/Silk-Mosaic/c/14765037/offset=0&sort=addedTimeDesc

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