Tiny scraps of silk left over after cutting the petals. I can't throw them out!!
Today was my first day back at TAFE after two weeks off. It was also the first day of what I consider ‘proper’ Spring weather, in which the temperature strays above the 30 degree (Celcius!) mark. I suppose making silk flowers fits the season, but I was feeling a bit wilted myself, and certainly never miss the opportunity for a good pun.
In this first session we cut out and stiffened our petals in preparation for next week’s actual making of the flowers. Using fabric scraps consisting of all natural fibres, we cut out a bunch of petals in different shapes. Some students used a template, but I just went at it freehand for a more naturalistic feel.
Paper templates you could use to cut out scraps.
Most of my scraps were bits of silk I fished out of the stash, but I painted some calico with fabric paints as well just to see how a heavier fabric will perform. Other students used cottons, tulle, hessian and even leather – basically any natural fibre we could find. After cutting out, we painted/dipped the petals in stiffener and left them to dry on sheets of paper.
My silk petals, stiffened with gelatine solution.
The two stiffeners we are using are a chemical lacquer used in millinery, and a gelatine-based water soluble alternative. The former has a very strong smell and should really only be used under a fume hood. I ruined a brand new pair of leather shoes last term by spilling this stuff on them, so needless to say I don’t have fond feelings towards it! The gelatine is completely safe, but takes longer to dry and may not respond to being heated as well. I have also heard that a mix of PVA glue and water can be used. We will find out next week!
A whole garden of petals laid out to dry.
It was quite lovely to see everyone’s petals laid out to dry. They ran the gamut from quite psychadelic to beautifully handpainted, and I’m quite interested to see how the hessian ones will turn out.
PS. I do apologise for the bad quality of the images in this post – I only had my phone camera with me at school, so I had to make do!