Make your own Silk Paper at home

This tutorial will show you how to make your own silk paper, also known as silk fusion or silk felt. Silk paper is very pretty and extremely versatile, I use silk paper in felt, in books or paintings and I even like embroidering on it. It’s easy to make and you can decide exactly how you want it. You can decide how big you want your sheet of silk paper to be, but make sure your netting is double that size, so that you can fold it over.

Sari silks and yarns

Sari silk slivers are the perfect fibres for making silk papers easily at home. Add embellishments from nature such as dried flowers and leaves. Handmade silk papers make great gift tags, journal covers and insets for all textile projects.

You’ll need:

  • Wallpaper paste or CMC medium
  • 20 grams sari silk sliver
  • Template
  • Silk hankie known as mawata
  • Mulberry silk threads
  • 1gm superfine Merino wool tops
  • 2 plastic sheets
  • 2 pieces of netting
  • Sheet of silicone paper
  • 2 Clothes pegs to hang sheets to dry
  • Dried flowers and leaves– optional

Mix up wallpaper paste according to instructions: stir thoroughly and leave to stand while you prepare working area.

De-clutter your table top or work surface and lay down newspapers or flat towel, as it gets wet and messy! Cover with large plastic sheet.

Make some samples first using different layers and techniques.

Always make a few samples first before embarking on major production.

Sample strip of green, red, blue and turquoise sari silk.

Start laying out the silk fibres

Start laying out the silk fibers on the net. Gently pull drafts of silk about 3 inches or 7 cms from hanks of Sari silk slivers and lay down in horizontal overlapping rows. Leave a margin of 1 inch or 2-3 cms around margins of netting.

Lay down a second layer of silk fibres in a vertical direction. Carefully check for gapping using your flattened palm. Add extra fibres to weak spots and gaps.

Place second layer of net on top of project and dampen the project with weak cool soapy water solution. Adding a drop of liquid soap to the water helps the absorption of fibres.

Carefully pull back the netting without catching stray wisps of silk. Check project for any weak areas and add more fibres if necessary. 

At this stage you can add embellishments such additional threads, silk hankies and dried flowers and leaves. Press gently into the project and add a few wisps of silk fibres to hold them in place.

Adding dried flowers and silk threads
Adding dried leaves and securing with wisps of fine Merino wool.

Start the felting process of gently massaging, when you are happy with arrangement by replacing the top layer of net over the project.

Dip a small sponge into the wallpaper paste and apply the paste smoothly and evenly through the netting onto the project. The more paste you use, the stiffer the paper. This is useful for making 3D projects like silk paper bowls and lamp shades. Important to make test samples first.

The fun part begins when you start to gently massage the paste into the fibres encouraging them to cohere into a unified sheet of silk paper. Allow about 5 minutes.

Fold the netting over and cover the silk in glue using the sponge. Turn over carefully to also rub in the oter side of your work. The silk has to be soaked completely, the parts which still need some glue are lighter in colour.

Allow it to dry completely before you remove the netting, so you don’t pull the sheet apart. If the drying takes too long you can help a little with a hairdryer or iron with silicone paper folded around the silk paper.

Close up shows the dried silk paper with honesty seeds. It is quite stiff, but can be machine sewn into textile project. Once washed, it will become softer.

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