The Life Cycle of a Silk Scarf August 12 2015
I get asked a lot about how my silk scarves are actually made; it’s seems like magic when an artwork is transferred to such a beautiful fabric and it baffles many people.
I’ve spent many years researching and sourcing the globe for the perfect digital printer, one who has the skill, passion and enthusiasm for creating the perfect crisp print of my work. I’ve had many samples back from Australia, India, China, Bangladesh and Indonesia and although most are beautiful (but wow there have been some disasters!) they fall short of my vision for the ultimate digital silk print.
Some were perfectly printed but the hems were crappy, many were on very average quality silk, some were just too expensive to wholesale. Some laughed at me when I asked for editions of only 20 (“What do you mean 20 thousand?”…ummm, no, like 20 scarves.) Sadly, some were from mills where the boss couldn’t give me any proof of the safety and welfare of their staff. All these failed samples were lessons that made me more determined to find an ethical textile mill that cared about quality over quantity.
Finally, when all hope was lost in a sea of expensive smudged silk, along came my amazing Mill in China and we have been working together ever since! After a fun but somewhat awkward lost in translation lunch of delicious unidentifiable animal in Hong Kong, much present swapping and business card admiring, we solidified a relationship which for my small brand is worth it’s weight in gold. You see, for me, the most important criteria is that the mill is ethical, pays their employees properly, has rigorous health and safety standards, not to mention awesome skills.
So, the magic bit: I start with a random vague idea of what I might like to wear on a scarf myself. I occasionally look at trend forecasts but my scarves don’t adhere to fashion, as I’d like them to be considered timeless. I wouldn’t stop looking at an artwork because it’s not the “in” colour, which is how I see my scarves.
Much photoshopping and drawing and scanning later, I sit with the artwork for a few weeks to make sure I’m still happy with it and it’s not a strange late night aberration. I then print it out twice on paper (one for the Mill, one for my own reference) and send it and the flat digital file to Hong Kong. Two weeks later, the Mill then sends me a sample scarf (a silk print they think is perfect copy of the original printout.) I once asked why I had to supply this colour printout and was told that colours are so changeable on different screens, in different light; it cuts out the guesswork.
And it’s all plain sailing from there! The mill gets to work on my very small order once I’ve approved the sample. They print and hem all the scarves, check and re check for any mistakes or dodgy printing so all I have to do when they arrive at my studio in Sydney is hand number them, box them and write and sign the Certificates of Authenticity.