On the Studio Table

New supplies are always fun, but new supplies that are weird are also wonderful.

Here are two items on my studio table for upcoming projects that I’m not sure about yet. I’m sure I’ll use both of these items, but I haven’t done enough exploring yet.

Copper fabric

Copper fabric. I mentioned it a few days ago, when I wrote about Inventables. It feels like a highly-starched cotton. It is copper thread woven with cotton thread. It’s washable and has a coating so the copper won’t fade or tarnish. I have a huge urge to sew on it. It would make a great journal page, but I don’t want to write on it just yet. What would you do with this copper fabric?

soy silk

This is a soft fiber in great colors. (Yes, it comes in other colors). It’s faux-silk, which means it’s not silk. In fact, it’s a soy fiber, the by-product of tofu-making. (Let the jokes begin).

I’m going to experiment with this by separating the fibers into delicate strands and seeing if I can use a felting technique (good thing I read the books I review) to make a paper-like material. That should be fun.

What would you do with this soy-silk? With a bit of skill, you could knit with it.

-Quinn McDonald loves the idea of not using materials in ways they were designed. She got in trouble for that in grade school, but that was then and this is now.

32 thoughts on “On the Studio Table

  1. Oh I think you should sew on the copper fabric and that I should come over and inspire, er instigate, or play. And, I have some tulle and some Jo Sonja’s Textile Medium. Remember that orange colored box I gave you with beading on it? it is made of soy silk fibers I got at Joggles.com. Here is a link to the tutorial on Silk Fusion which is one way to make soy silk paper – http://www.joggles.com/silk-fusion-tutorial.htm . And here is a slightly different approach – http://milllanestudio.blogspot.com/2009/08/soy-silk-fusion.html . And I’ll stop after this one http://www.mielkesfarm.com/silk_fusion.htm
    Let’s experiment!

  2. Hi Quinn,
    I couldn’t resist responding to this one. I love soy silk fiber and have used it in a few of my art quilts. It is super strong once it is dry and it won’t tear apart. In fact, I used it in two quilts between quilted pieces to get a more ephemeral looking piece. You can check them out on my website at Karenworksart.com. Look at Slick and One Ocean, One climate….the soy silk is the light colored material. I like putting bits of angelina fiber or sparkly fibers from the local fly fishing shop in the layers with the soy silk to add sparkle. You can also get great dimension with it if you let it dry in a shape.
    Hope this helps,

  3. I’d make a bookcover from the copper fabric and sew some embellishments onto it before I glued it down (the Ultimate Glue won’t bleed through fabric or ribbon but sticks like PVA); the other I’d be tempted to spin into a yarn and knit a pretty neckwarmer, but if it was paper, I’d try the routine of making paper from Silk Tops–you pull it apart and lay it onto mesh and then lay another layer in the other direction and keep going until it is the thickness you want, then lay another mesh on top and then soak the whole thing in a diluted mix of matte medium and then let it dry and pull the mesh off. You have to cut this stuff not tear it, but I would prefer the scarf to the paper, but that’s just me..

    • Love the suggestion. I know how to knit, but I’m not a spinner. This material looks like roving. I like your idea about the cover–I had the sort of opposite idea–see if I can use it as an embellishment. Might be fun.

  4. For the soy silk roving, first you’ll need a large, flat plastic lid or tray to work on. Take a few strands of the silk roving and lay (correct usage of lay/lie, thanks to you!) them in one direction on a piece of tulle, do another row above the row you just did and continue doing this until you have the size piece you want to work with. Then place a few strands of roving in the opposite direction, on top of the first layer. Continue doing this until you cover the first layer. Do this 2-3 more times for a total of 4-5 layers, always placing the top layer in the opposite direction of the layer beneath, and then place another piece of tulle on top.

    Using a 50/50 combo of textile medium and water, paint the tulle “sandwich” with textile medium, covering completely. Carefully lift the “sandwich” and place over a drying rack outside to dry. After it’s dry, pull away the tulle and you now have some silk paper that you can incorporate into a journal or sew on.

    I have not tried this particular project but have been told that you can make this same kind of “paper” directly onto a journal cover, etc. Someone actually covered an entire wall with it in their home. When I took the class, we used wool roving so I’m not sure how the silk will work compared to the wool but it’s worth a shot.

    • OK, that is EXACTLY what I want to do! And yes, a gold star for the lay/lie usage! One more question–where do I get textile medium? JoAnne’s Fabrics looked at me as if I were (the conditional takes the subjunctive, but that’s another lesson) crazy.

      • Michael’s carries a textile medium in the glue aisle but I have not tried that particular brand. The one we used in class is called Jo Sonja’s textile medium but I haven’t found it in stores. Jerry’s Artarama used to carry some Jo Sonja’s products so they may be able to order it. I don’t know that it really matters one brand over another.

        I took the class at Tempe Yarn & Fiber. Here’s a link for the class description: http://www.tempeyarn.com/tempe_yarn_and_fiber_120.htm In this description, she uses silk fibers. I don’t know if she has a class scheduled but they may be able to bring her in. I would be willing to take the class again, if you’re interested or we could experiment together and see what we come up with. Just let me know.

  5. OK I’ll stop after this one. A glove made from copper fabric would not be the warmest (copper conducts heat, too) but you’d probably be able to interact with a capacitive touchscreen (e.g. iPhone, iPad, etc) while wearing those gloves.

    • I could make my own gloves like the ones that have the finger-print on the right index finger I’m left-handed, so I could put a spot of the fabric on the left glove! (I know, they now make the gloves with more fingers covered, so people can use swipe pads.

  6. Oh, here’s another idea for the copper fabric. This would take some testing to find out if it’s possible to remove different amounts of the anti-tarnish coating so different areas would tarnish at different rates. If so, do that in a way that creates an image (maybe the photo jayjoe suggested). Then use the fabric to make something wearable, and as it’s worn the image would gradually appear as the copper tarnishes. You could start the process all over by washing the fabric to “polish” it again. Even cooler, maybe you could de-coat parts of the fabric, then re-coat it with something soluble so the SECOND time, a different image appears!

    • OK this is doable–well, in my way. I like the idea of copper tarnish, too, so I was going to use sandpaper on parts of the fabric and see what happens. I love the idea of the appearing and disappearing images, even layered ones. So I’m wondering if I could use a wax resist that fabric artists use to create something on the newly-sanded part. As the resist wears off, it would tarnish at different rates. Very cool!

  7. I think it would be better if the copper could tarnish. But anyway, the first thing I’d do would be to test whether an enclosed container of the copper fabric would constitute an effective Faraday cage. If it did (theoretically it should), I’d sew (what I mean here by “sew” is “convince somebody who knows how to sew to help me”) a closable pouch (zipper maybe) that would put a mobile phone out of touch whenever you put it in the pouch. It could not ring (e.g. in a theater) and nobody could track your location (e.g. the NSA 🙂

    The second thing I’d do would be to start designing a wearable network — wearable computing devices that are networked together but without radio signals; they’d use the copper fabric as a physical layer for communicating.

    Come to think of it, the copper fabric could also be the substrate for something I invented several years ago: the personal power grid. You might carry a number of battery-powered devices (this was more likely years ago, before smartphones acquired all the functions of music players, watches, gps units, etc). The batteries are in different states of charge, and the device you want to use might run low. The personal power grid was an idea to enable pooling of battery energy among all your personal devices while you were carrying them, as well as make “walking-powered chargers” a reasonable way to charge whatever you carry. (Note: this might be an interesting idea but don’t use it to create a product; it’s owned, and I think patented, by Nokia Inc.)

    Of course, you’d have to actually wear copper clothing — or at least copper underwear! — for the latter two to work, but that’s a small sacrifice to make for…er…progress?

    • I love how your mind works, although sometimes I fear it, too. I can make you a slipcover for your phone, although I can’t do zippers. But I like the way your mind runs down the path of conductivity.

      • BTW I’m not certain the fabric would succeed as a Faraday cage. Easy to test though, wrap your mobile phone in the stuff and call it. If it rings…well, scratch one idea!

  8. Hmm, what’s the texture & consistency of the copper fabric, would your printer be able to manage it? If yes, what about printing photographs on it? If not, maybe try acrylic skins on copper fabric.
    Sent from my BlackBerry® by Boost Mobile

    • Oh Jay, what a perfect idea! It’s stiff enough and smooth enough to go through my printer. I hadn’t thought of that, but wow, yes, photographs, and then maybe some tar gel (it’s clear) to add an interesting highlight. Great idea!

  9. How exciting! I look forward to see where these new materials take you. The tofu-silk reminds me, I have some banana silk fibre (similar quandry, it’s gorgeous – what to do/make with it first!). Gotta love new finds like these – happy playing! 🙂

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