For me, each step of creating a silk scarf is comprised of intense moments, and I think that's because I want each piece of silk art to be just what the buyer is looking for.
OK, I have layered and rolled all the dyed scarves onto a wire roll( see photo to the right). Just layering each scarf and then rolling the batch of layered scarves is a 2 hour process. You don't want any scarf sticking out and overlapping onto another scarf. After I've rolled the batch onto the wire mesh cylinder, I set up the steaming pot. (See photo to the left).If I would have purchased a pot from a catalogue I would have payed close to $300.00.This steaming pot saved me about $280.00, because I bought a clam chowder boiler pot. Then a friend rolled a piece of sheet metal to fit inside the pot leaving about 2-3 inches away from the sides of the pot. He popped it with some rivets to hold its shape. On the bottom of the pot sits a raised round metal pan with holes cut into it. This is where I set the cylinder of scarves on top of that metal pan which is 7 inches above the water
I always set up the steaming pot inside the garage. I pour 4-5inches of water into the bottom of the pot. The water never, NEVER touches the cylinder of scarves. All you want to have circulating around the scarves is steam, never water. Before the cylinder is placed into the pot I wait till the water is at a low boiling point.
The cylinder is placed onto the metal pan, careful not to touch the sides of the rolled sheet metal. I then cover the top with a couple of braided rugs, 2 towels, and heavy cotton sheet, which I tuck around the side of the pot to hold the steam in.
Then comes the waiting game; usually 2-3 hours. It takes that long to allow the steam to set the dyes deep into the fibers of silk. I am up and down the two step into the garage maybe 30 times in that 2-3 hour period of time.
I am making sure the pot has not tipped over. I am checking to make sure the water is still at the right level and slowly simmering. And that the steam is pouring through the rugs, and towels I have placed over the pot: These are all good indications that everything is coming along just right!
The time is finally up! I turn off the electric hot plate, and lift the cylinder full of steaming scarves out letting them cool before unwrapping. I empty the chowder pot of hot water in some weedy part of the garden. Turn it upside down to drain any excess water. I hang the rugs and towels up to dry.
And then , and then I begin to cut the strings that held the wrapped scarves onto the cylinder. I unroll the batch, then begin to peel off each layer of newspaper, releasing each silk scarf. I check to make sure there are no splash over of other dyes. Hey, no matter how careful I've been, sometimes it just happens. But they are beautiful ooopses.
About 3 batches ago, I had some beautiful ooopses. Each one I sold, the buyers comments and feedback were all very positive. Go to my http://mysticsilks.etsy.com/ feedback and read. Except for one. I gave her, the buyer good feedback;payed promptly, etc. She slaps me with negative feedback and the most nasty comments: Poor quality, poor wrapping.
WOW! I was heartbroken. I contacted her offering her a refund if she was that unhappy.
She wrote me back, she couldn't return it. She had given it as a gift!!
If you figure that one out, let me know. How displeased was she? Or did she dislike the person she gave the gift to? But if you didn't like someone, would you give them a gift?
I have remained puzzled since that time, and kind of sad , too. Cuz I really loved that scarf. The one to your left is that scarf!
OK,the scarves are peeled away from the layers of newspaper. I let them dry overnight. The next day, I wash the scarves in a gentle soap water. Then each scarf is rinsed till the water runs almost clear. I say almost because, it seems for the first few washings there will always be a residual bit of dye in the scarf. Out comes the ironing board and each scarf while damp is ironed. Then I set up my photo taking drop cloth, and begin to set up the scarves for their photo session. This is an all day process. I take 5-6 different angles with different props.
The I head over to picnik.com and edit each photo till I am satisfied I have brought out the best depth of colors. You'd think we'd be finished, huh?
But no! Off I go to http://mysticsilks.etsy.com/ or to http://mysticsilks.artfire.com , and if it's a painting, off to http://designstyleguide.net and I spend another 2 hours per scarf to list each scarf separately on one of those website stores.
I wait with anticipation till my silk beauties sell, and I hear how pleased each buyer is--:)