(First photo: Maui Ocean #1)
Margaret C. Wheeler in her own words!
Silk fusion is the process of bonding silk fibers together to make, usually, a sheet which can then be altered to anything you want. It is very strong since silk is very strong. It is nearly impossible to tear. I make wall pieces out of it. I cut and weave strips into a sheet and then I do freeform machine stitching and finally I do lots of beading. I am always evolving so things change fast and now I am adding prints of my photographs on silk organza.
When making silk fusion you lay the fibers (very carefully) in one direction then another layer in the opposite direction. Usually one more layer is required but if you need a 4th that is up to the individual. 2 layers is the very minimum. It is laid out on plastic screening and then is sandwiched between a second screen. This is where it gets messy. You need to wet it thoroughly with water and a tiny bit of liquid soap so that it will accept the textile medium. Next you carefully sponge out the water after which you apply the textile medium. Since silk does not have barbs like wools it needs something to bond the fibers. You must not apply too much or it will be too stiff and rubbery but you must be careful not to apply it too thin or it will not stay together and when you take the screen off it will pull apart.
Next you must hang it to drip the excess "glue" and dry. Usually about eight hours to be sure it is fully dry. Then you carefully peel off each piece of screening and there is your sheet and you are just getting started.
We moved from Montana to Washington where I continued to work in theatre. I loved it even tho it was very hard work. We moved to eastern Washington and I decided it was time to quit and do other things. I had started weaving in 1980 and had several looms so that was going to fill my time and satisfy my creative needs. Well it didn't. I developed an allergy to wools of all kinds, mohairs, angoras you name it.
I have collected beads and things over the years to last me for a long time.
I have a 500 sq ft studio separate from the house. I have knitted scarves, made handbags, hemmed dresses, made aprons for German trachten, dyed silk scarves, you name it, in a effort to make money to help and it does in a small way. My hands are always busy. My Mother always said "Idle hand do the devils work."
But more often she said "To thine own self be true."
I think silk fusion is for the person who really likes to start from scratch but does not want to weave. Spinning then weaving your yarn are really starting from scratch. Well then you must grow the sheep. But silk fusion can satisfy that need to start from nearly nothing and create your very own piece. I admire quilting a lot but the ones done from a pattern or using a printed design that is cut and sewn on are like paint by numbers paintings to me even tho I admire the beautiful ones. Technically I do not think I could be that precise because I'm too impatient but creatively I think I can do something better. At least I have to try and my head is full. I will need to live to 200 just to do what I think of now. By then I would have even more.
I have several things in shows right now:
- 2 paper collages (the 2 of the dog Kelly on my website) in the NWCollage Society Fall show.
- 1 silk fusion (Let Your Life Speak) and the Memory Book (although I had to change the cover because the feather disintegrated so I have used antique lace) in a fiber show in Sequim, WA.
- And last but not least I have a huge hand woven quilt 10 feet by 13 feet that I designed and sewed the pieces together. I oversaw the work of about 60 members of the Seattle Weavers Guild who wove the fabric for the squares and long strips as joiners and also emblellished 48 squares. That is being hung at the LaConner Quilt and Textile Museum in LaConner, WA. and will be there until the 27th of December. I have shown some of my silk fusion there in the past.