I’ve been experimenting with the KARISMA Air Fade Ink pens on silk lately and I’m quite pleased with the results. I have heard that some brands of air fade ink pens will come back if the fabric is laundered, so I decided to use them on fabrics I wasn’t planning to ever wash, just in case.
The first trial was on a vintage tsumugi* silk that I wasn’t worried about ruining as it had plenty of patina and couldn’t be used for much else. *Tsumugi is a type of hand-woven raw silk with untwisted fibers with a texture similar to dupioni or shantung silk. The texture of tsumugi is very dry and nubby, lacking in the smoothness you might associate more with Chinese silks and satins. The fibers soaked up the ink and held on to it for more than a day. During the 24 hour trial period the fabric sat on my work table in regular indoor light, not covered by anything. It faded completely within 48 hours. I used the wide tip pen (top) for this first test and found it was easy to use as it left clear, strong lines. For my second project I used the fine tip pen (bottom) instead as I needed a delicate touch. The second test came about while standing in my booth at a quilt show. I was looking at a boldly dyed, crinkly, Bingata-style silk chirimen kimono fabric from the mid-20th century and thinking how it might be nice to translate that design into something different… Sometimes it seems like I do more design and product testing at shows than I do in the studio.
A piece of plain ivory silk chirimen* with a fine texture and slight translucence made for a decent piece of tracing material. Expecting the air fade pen to last a few hours, I was surprised to find that on the more refined silk it faded much faster. I went over the pen lines several times as I noticed them starting fade.
One of the delights of sashiko is not needing to use a hoop. Thread tension was comfortably loose without being sloppy and my stitches were very easy to manage, even as I picked the fabric up and put it down frequently throughout the day. The gentle variegation of the colors used and weight of the thread gave the overall image an added dimension.
I’m very pleased with this combination of materials — KARISMA air fade ink pen, Fujix Soie et silk thread, Tulip Sashiko needles, and vintage kimono silk — and will be planning a few classes around projects like this one for later this year.
*Chirimen is a weave that varies from strongly crimped, loosely spun fibers to finer and more tightly spun fibers. Variations in how the silk is twisted and how fine the warp and weft fibers are will affect the final texture and drape of the fabric.