Never underestimate the benefits of testing materials.
I am by nature an impatient artist and tend to dive into art materials
and experiment when it is my own art processes, however,
with clients, I read, I test products, and it serves me well.
After we narrowed our silks to proper colors,
we tested Gamblin’s PVA Size on the silk samples stretched
(as the silk will be stretched when Washington is painted) on embroidery hoops.
A word about the search for color, and why we expanded the search to include silk blends. The silks we found available in the colors needed were often a very light weight,
measured in mommes.** (See definition below, pronounced moe-me,
though it often sounds like mommy in the USA,
which frankly had me cracking up every time it was said to me.)
We reached out for blends in other natural materials, such as cotton and rayon.
Some of these blends were more expensive than the lovely silk!
By expanding out materials to include blends,
we found sturdy fabrics that suited our requirements.
All of the materials in the running were tested: eight samples.
(Shown above, one of the likely candidates after testing was completed.)
The reasons for the odd pattern to the testing is that I wanted to see how
the PVA buildup effected the fabric, and so noted the manner in which I built up the size:
One coat on half the back, and several coats on the front,
beginning with a full coat covering the entire circle, then half,
then a quarter (three front coats), with dry time in between.
The PVA tests seriously narrowed the field. Example: the Sunsilk silk sample above
was a candidate, despite the slight texture, but after testing and seeing how the PVA changed the texture dramatically, Sunsilk’s two colors were dropped.
Our final choice for the fabric was a lovely cotton/silk blend from Osbourne & Little.
Two colors work well in both bright light and soft light, shown above and below,
and the fabric has the right sheen for the reproduction to come close to the original flag.
Meanwhile, cuts from the dye lots are on their way from England
for our approval to match against the samples in our possession.
Dye lots can vary, and in recent years some have varied quite a lot.
We have both colors on hold for us, pending approval.
MOST companies do not take this long for dye lot samples
but O&L has their own unique way of doing business!
Next, what we are doing while
waiting for fabric to arrive!
To begin at the beginning, visit Washington State Flag, 1.
MPFC will be posting from time to time as we make interesting progress to share;
sign-up for posts if you are interesting in following the progress.
**From Wikipedia, the definition of mommes: “…traditionally used to measure silk fabrics, the weight in pounds of a piece of fabric if it were sized 45 inches by 100 yards (1.2 m by 90 m). One momme = 4.340 g/m²; 8 mommes is approximately 1 ounce per square yard or 35 g/m². The momme is based on the standard width of silk of 45 inches (1.2 m) wide. The higher the weight in mommes, the more durable the weave, and the more suitable it is for heavy-duty use, and, the heavier the silk, the more opaque it becomes. This can vary even between the same kind of silk. For example, lightweight charmeuse is translucent when used in clothing, but 30-momme charmeuse is opaque.”