Steam fixation is needed for French silk dyes. The silk paintings and scarves I create must be steamed to achieve adequate color intensity and to fix the dyes so they can be hand-washed. The high temperature heat and pressure bonds the dye and silk molecules together. I use a stovetop steamer for this fixation process.
Make the Bundle
I roll my scarf in newsprint. I lay down overlapping sheets and place the scarf inside
with at least 2 inches of newsprint outside the scarf. Then I lay overlapping sheets of
newsprint on top. Basically making a scarf sandwich:) I roll it up from the long side
so it is a really long snake.
I use my broom handle to help roll it up.
Then I take the snake and curl it up. I use
floral wire to wrap up the bundle. You could also use string or twine
Line a Pie Plate with a Dishtowel
I take a regular tin pieplate and fold a dishtowel in fourths and place it inside.
Bundle on Top
I place the scarf bundle on the dishtowel. Make sure the wire ends are underneath so they
don’t poke into the tinfoil (next step).
Cover With Tinfoil
I cover the whole thing with tinfoil. I cover it loosely so that the tinfoil makes
a dome. The point is to have the tinfoil not touch the sides of the pot when you
place the bundle in the pot. But you don’t want to make it airtight because you want the
steam to be able to get underneath. So don’t seal it completely. Just shape it so
it is a close-fitting dome.
Line Lid of Pot
I use a big pot — the kind used to boil seafood. Mine is 9″ tall.
I cut 20 sheets of newspaper in a circle slightly smaller than the size of the pot lid. I put that under the
lid and cover with one sheet of newsprint so that the towel doesn’t get dirty from newsprint.
Wrap in a Towel
I use an ordinary bath towel folded in half and wrap it around the lid. The corners of the towel I gather on
top. (It is impt that they don’t slip down and touch the burner.)
Set Up the Pot
You need to elevate the pie plate on top of the boiling water in the pot. I found this
tube thing in the hardware store. It is 5″ tall. No idea what it is but I found it with the ventilation hardware.
Here are photos of the top and side views of it.
Then I put the tube inside the large pot.
I fill the pot with water halfway up the tube thing. 2.5″ deep.
Place the Pie Plate in the Pot
I place the tinfoil covered bundle on the tube and make sure the tinfoil is not touching the
sides of the big pot.
Put Lid and Weight On Top
Finally, I put the towel covered lid on top of the pot making sure the corners of the towel
are not hanging down. Then I put another pot on top to hold the towel and it also puts
a bit of weight on the assembly to help hold down the lid.
Steam for 1-2 hours
With my stove, I set the temp. between 3-4, which is med or med low heat. I start at 4 and then turn down once I know
it is boiling.