Mulberry silk laps: Caroline’s experiments

from Caroline Merrell - 16 May 2016

Once I started experimenting with the wonderful Mulberry silk laps, ideas on how to use them started popping up in my head one after the other, and I realized that possibilities truly are endless. And trust me, I experimented a lot and had a lot of fun.

Experimenting is definitely a necessary step, especially if it is your first time working with this material. There are several techniques you can use, and there is not limit to the effects you can achieve, so it is always worth it to spend some time to understand what you really want to obtain.

I believe the most interesting part is that you can both use silk laps to create unique surfaces or patterns, and spin it or use it to make creative paper sheets. Basically, just let your inspiration guide you!

However, because I need to choose only a few techniques to discuss, I’ve decided to tell you about those that I prefer for dyeing the Mulberry silk laps, and those that I used to combine it with superlight prefelt. Both are easy to use and, I believe, look great. Now, follow along with me!

Mulberry silk laps and superlight prefelt

You can use superlight prefelt as it is, or by cutting it to your liking, and then lay out a certain number of layers of silk laps, depending on what affect you mean to achieve. Obviously, the more layers you use, the thicker the felt is going to be.

Mulberry Silk

If you decide to use many layers, I recommend you add small quantities of wool in between them, as the wool fibers will act as glue.

Mulberry Silk
Another thing to keep an eye on is the use of color. If you choose the right color for each layer, you can achieve some unique effects. Whether it is a polka dotted pattern….

Mulberry Silk

…Or a leaf pattern!

Mulberry Silk

These are naturally only some small examples, but I hope that they will give you an idea of the endless possibilities that this material offers.

How to dye Mulberry silk laps

And now, let’s move on to how to dye Mulberry silk laps. Out of all the techniques, this is one of my favorites because it allows you to achieve some truly incredible effects. Incidentally, contrary to what one may think, dyeing silk laps is pretty easy and you do not need any expensive or hard-to-find equipment.

Indeed, in order to dye the Mulberry silk laps I used my microwave oven that I have at home. Of course, I had to do several small batches, but this did not create any problems. For dyestuff, there are many kinds that are perfect: all you need to do is make sure they are meant for protein fibers, and stick to the dosage recommended by the manufacturer. If you want to use natural dyes (not synthetic ones), you can find them also on dhgshop.it. They are great too.

So, here is how you do it:

  • Completely soak the silk laps into a container with water (tap water is fine) and a little bit of distilled white vinegar (2 teaspoons for every liter of water). I have a small trick: I add a few drops of dishwasher soap, as this lets the water penetrate more easily into the fibers.
  • Now, gently squeeze the laps, lay them out in a microwave safe container and pour the first color onto the laps. Make sure that the color is absorbed well into the fiber and that there are no white layers left.  Mulberry Silk
  • Repeat for every color you intend to use. I used 3 colors
  • Seal the container with some plastic wrap and start cooking
  • Heat it to a high temperature, until air swells up underneath the plastic wrap. Then lower the temperature and wait until the laps cool down. Next, cook again until air builds up underneath the wrap. Turn off the oven and let the laps cool down. WARNING: the container is going to be very hot. Wait for a while before you remove the plastic wrap.Mulberry Silk
  • Once the laps have cooled down, remove the plastic wrap and rinse the silk laps under running water. Keep rinsing until the water is clear.Mulberry Silk
  • Dry and start creating.

Mulberry Silk Mulberry Silk

What do you think about these color effects?

Caroline

PS: if you still want to experiment, why don’t you soak the laps again, this time in tea or coffee? You are going to love the result!

Caroline Merrell

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4 Comments for Mulberry silk laps: Caroline’s experiments

  1. Inge Monticello

    Thank you for the guidance and color inspiration!

  2. Annalisa Chelli

    Thank you dear Inge! Keep following us.

  3. Ann

    Thank you for providing information on different uses of mulberry silk lap. I love your design. Would you please provide information on where and how to purchase these product. I want to purchase extra fine merino wool /silk lap, 80% wool / 20 % silk.

  4. Annalisa Chelli

    Dear Ann, thanks for the compliments. The article you are talking about is written on DHGshop blog, that means that you can find all the products used in this experimentation on http://www.dhgshop.it even the Mulberry silk laps 80/20 🙂

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