Soy-Silk Roving

This is the original color–bright, with a nice sheen.

After I purchased the soy roving (also called faux silk roving), I wanted to make a sheet of it. As a papermaker, making a sheet of soy paper seemed a good first step. Following directions suggested by Traci and Rosaland, I bought both nylon net and tulle, created a soy sandwich, using textile medium, and let it dry.


  • If you try this, get the roving wet, but not so wet that it makes puddles on your protective plastic sheet. It will take forever to dry.
  • Nylon netting is easier to remove, but tulle doesn’t leave any netting marks.
  • Do the wetting process on a plastic bag to contain the mess.
  • Textile medium is sticky and doesn’t easily wash off your hands. Gloves are helpful.

Edge of sheet.

I deliberately made a thin sheet, to avoid a felt-like texture. After it dried, I peeled off the nylon netting and tulle (two separate pieces) and looked at the result. It had a plastic feel, and a stiff hand. Frankly, as a first experiment, I wasn’t happy with the result.  I’ll try it again, with more water to dilute the textile medium (I used half and half) and a thicker sheet. But the plasticky hand was off-putting for me.

I’m going to try to paint this sheet with Lumiere and inks to see what happens. I can also sew it onto a sparkly fabric background for more visual interest.

In the photo on the right, you can see the impression left by the nylon netting.

There are faint impressions of the nylon netting in the finished sheet.

This disappears when you heat set it (between parchment papers).

What else can this soft, lovely fiber do? I pulled off thin strands and draped them on a watercolored sheet that I had painted with glue. I like this interesting effect, although it is still very rough. I could see this method working really well on fabric with over-stitching.

Next experiment: I can also see the “sandwich” being made from water-soluble fusible webbing instead of netting.

Fiber glued onto watercolored paper.

After the webbing is ironed in place, I’ll stitch over in free-form patterns. (OK, I have to learn to do that, too). Once the soy roving is stitched down, I can wash the webbing away. That should give me a more thread-like hand and still stiffen the material some.

The roving also comes in white, and I think using a lot of white and a little color would make a very interesting sheet.

Let me know if you’ve ever used this roving for something other than sheet-making.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and artist.

19 thoughts on “Soy-Silk Roving

  1. I use it for needle felting. Where are you getting it? I used to get mine from joggles, but they don’t carry it any more.

  2. I use freezer paper under my soy silk and only use the netting to keep the soy silk from sticking to my foam brush as I put on the medium. I remove the tulle once everything is wet and let it dry without anything on top. I also did it once in a class using window screen for a different imprint and we hung the screen to a hanger with a close pin to let it dry faster. I showed teenagers how to use it and they made dimensional shapes on the freezer paper and let it dry that way.

  3. I think you might enjoy this exhibition in the Swedish National Museum in Stockholm, Slow Art, that celebrates patience, carefulness and the materials used. Most of the stuff is very arts and crafts and absolute master pieces of skill and soul. And the best part: you can download the full exhibition catalogue pdf FOR FREE!!! (on the right hands side, below the pictures) I think that deserves three exclamation marks, don’t you?

    • When I wrote about “slow art” being important to me years ago, I thought I was alone. Turns out the Swedish National Museum knew all along it was the way to approach art. Yes, Kaisa, that catalog is gorgeous! Worth three exclamation points, and I NEVER use more than one!

      • Come to think of it, if art is anything it’s slow. Even the fastest paced works of art have been years in production before they materialise. You have to build up the technical skills and that takes years – no matter how talented you are. Then you have to think, observe, collect (experiences, memories, knowledge, opinions, etc.) and ruminate some more, all slow processes without which you cannot come up with the idea and the soul of your works of art. Maybe it could be said that art is, in a sense, manifestation of time passed.

        That egg shell necklace is just – mind-blowing. It’s so beautiful in a literally untouchable way.

  4. I’ve spun it, and am not very sure what the fuss is all about, but i don’t like spinning commercial tops at the best of times.
    I’ve recently being playing around with “fibre paper” using your method, and have to agree on the hand,. It does not feel nice when dry and I spend the evening picking bits of glue from myfingers. Fortunately I live alone, lol! Apparently the trick with silk paper is to use the unprocessed fibre, so the natural sericin acts as a glue. I’m not sure what an acceptable alternative would be, as acrylic mediums are basically plastic as is PVA. Its probably a matter of experimentation until you can get something that uses the least amount of medium to hold the “paper” together.
    I don’t know if this makes a difference, but the recipes I have suggest using a little dish-washing liquid like Dawn in the soaking water to help the fibres absorb the glue better. I forgot that stage and it definitely was not a very pleasing result, but its going to be embellished heavily so it didn’t matter.

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