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Topic: Care and feeding of silks Tips
Message: Posted by: Paul D (Apr 27, 2005 12:23AM)
The first step in keeping your silks looking good is to start with quality silks. We've all bought a new silk and used it once, and only to have it look like the favorite handkercief of a chronic sinus sufferer. So before covering the maintaining of silks, first here are 3 things to remember when shopping for quality silks, weight, hem and dye.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 1:28am
Today I will go into the weight tips. Whats Momme? (pronounced mommay.) It's a measure of volume used in the silk industry. To magicians it means the difference between unusable cheesecloth and a good weight silk. In textiles "weight" refers to thickness of fiber and tightness of weave. Two weights are recommended for general magic 6mme and 8mme. Use the denser weave 8mme when a silk will undergo heavy use. The weight has a nicer flow and is more opaque.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 1:34am
Next tip. Hem. There are only 3 basic finished edges on silk handkerchiefs. 1. hand rolled, 2. over lock or serged, and 3. machine rolled, flat, single stitched. Hand rolled hems are on the finest fashion handkerchiefs. They will fall apart under normal magic use. Serging usually overlaps the raw edge with a series of three threads. Many serged edges are of good quality, but the added thickness can cause the hem to get in the way in some effects and any TIED corners tend to ravel more easily. The machine rolled, flat single stitch hem is the best for magic. Ideally this hem is 1/16"wide,extremely sturdy and very flat.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 1:41am
Tip 3 DYE. Color is added to a silk using either a pigment or dye. These differ in the size of their molecules and thier bonding to the silk fiber. Pigments have larger molecules and coat the fiber. Dyes are smaller and bond to the silk fibers at the molecular level. The more stable the bond the more light and colorfast the silk will be. Silks that bleed or have color run off are not necesarily inferior. However many inferior silks use dyes unsuitable for silk and will experience heavy color bleeding. Lay the silk over a paper towel, wet your finger and press it lightly to the silk. The colors should not bleed excessivley onto the paper towel. Another thing to look for is if the colors rub off when handling the silk with sweaty hands. Whether your silks are for use in a show or collectable value they must be properly cared for or they will deteriorate. If the silk is good quality it has four enemies dirt, creases, water and light.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 1:48am
Washing silks. Wash silks in cold water with a baby shampoo that has few additives. Fill a sink with water adding one to three teaspoons of shampoo. Swish the silk in the soapy water for 3 to 5 minutes.Empty the sink and thoroughly rinse the soap from the silk. Do not "wring out" the silk. Squeeze out the excess water. Before ironing roll the silk in a towel and pat out more water. Wash colors seperatly if colors bleed. Do not use products like Woolite. They coat the silk fibers causing colors to darken and dirt to be attracted to the silk. Bulk dry cleaning larger quantities is an excellent way to clean silk. Tell the dry cleaner that you will press the hankerchief yourself. If the cleaner presses them the bill will be astronimical.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 1:59am
Wrinkles and Ironing. Silks do not always have to be ironed to look presentable. When used frequently silk can reach a state of "uniformed wrinkledness" and remain attractive without ironing. The handkerchief must be 100% silk. Geep creases are not good. Wrinkles must be plentiful enough so there is no detectable pattern or design. To achieve this roll the silk until the small between your hands then open it. Repeat this action until the small wrinkles become uniform and the surface of the silk appears smooth and shimmering. After use in a show remove the silk from its hiding place and fold it loosely. If it gets wet iron it the repeat the wrinkling process. After washing silk must be brought back to its original shape by ironing. When silk is wet use a medium to hot "dry" setting. Use the hot setting only if your ironing board is well padded. When silk is dry use lower 'steam' setting. To bring the silk into shape place the iron on one corner pull either the horizontal or vertical corner. Continue this with each corner until all 4 are done. This will bring the silk back into shape. Do not pull the silk diagonally.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 2:05am
Storage. Silks That are not used should be stored properly to guard against light, water and insects. For short term storage lay craft paper or blank newsprint on a flat surface. Place silk on the paper then roll the paper and silk around a cardboard tube "gift wrap or mailing tube". Tape the roll to prevent unrolling then place the roll in a large document tube. The plastic light proof tubes are best. For long term storage follow the same procedure except wash and press the silks first. Silk will deteriate along the creases over long periods of time. Use handmade or acid free paper towel instead of newsprint. These papers are available in art supply stores.

Posted: Apr 27, 2005 2:09am
New silks. Before adding that brand new silk to your act, you should first make it "show ready" by washing it. See washing silks above. This not only eliminates stiffness which can cause fiber damage, but also may depending on the quality of the silk, wash off excess dye that could cause bleeding. Quality silks treated properly will pay you time and again with its hardwearing and long lasting beauty and luxury. I hope you all got something out of all this enjoy.

Posted: Apr 30, 2005 9:48pm
So no replies. I guess you all already know everything about silks and how to maintain them. That was a lot of typing for nothing.
Message: Posted by: Soupdragon (May 1, 2005 06:29PM)
No way a waste! Doing a search on care of silks I found you had provided everything I needed to know - thanks!
Message: Posted by: Paul D (May 1, 2005 10:06PM)
Hey, thanks Dragon. I'm happy to be of help.
Message: Posted by: okito25 (May 4, 2005 08:26AM)
Pauly that's an awsome post ... wonderful information ,
thanks , I have revived many a sorry looking silk
Message: Posted by: Emerys (May 7, 2005 11:23AM)
Excellent post. Thanks for taking the time to write it up. I'm going to print this out and add it to my binder of magic.
Message: Posted by: David Bilan (May 30, 2005 09:54AM)
It's too bad all silk effects don't come with your info. I would have avoided ruining a lot of silks over the years. That Woolite tip is too true...
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (May 30, 2005 02:37PM)
On 2005-05-30 10:54, djbilan wrote:
It's too bad all silk effects don't come with your info. I would have avoided ruining a lot of silks over the years. That Woolite tip is too true...


Did you have a bad experience with Woolite? I never have. But I don't want one either. What went wrong?

I've used the stuff for years (as well a baby shampoo) but never had the problem with real magicians' silks. I did with some production items (streamers, lanterns and fish) brought back from Hawaii. But they were not for magicians to start with. They were throwaway toys for party decorations. I quickly learned to keep them away from good magiciansí silks. They bled on everything if they got damp. It wasnít the Woolite!

The silk used from China for magicians is pretty colorfast. The color in silk from India is not as good. But they are near free too. They just aren't "ducks and ducks" to be compared.

Even with baby shampoo (which ultimately does harm whites) colors should not be mixed when washed. Iíve found yellows and red to be the most likely offenders. (Yes, green comes from yellow!) Sometimes black will leave a pinkish tint on white if not properly rinsed. But that often comes out with Woolite too!

Are you sure the problem is the Woolite?

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: hugmagic (May 30, 2005 09:37PM)
I will agree with Bob on the colorfastness of most silks except India. I don't know what they are using but it doesn't work. The Chinese, Japanese, Italian, German, English and American silks are all fine.

I have also used a few flakes of dreft baby soap. It is very mild and will work well. The problem with woolite could have been caused by the water itself.

This post is good but a lot of this information is in the Silk Encylopedias by Rice. People keep saying to get this books for a reason. Believe me, it will save you headaches and money.

I store my silks for the act folded in zip lock bags with the air burped out. Don't ask me why but they do not wrinkle as bad this way. The streamers are still rolled.

Message: Posted by: David Bilan (May 30, 2005 10:06PM)
My Woolite problem may have been that I used too much Woolite and did not rinse well enough. Seemed the silks became a dirt magnet after washing them. Of course, I was in my early 20's at the time...

Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (May 31, 2005 12:55AM)

When we were in our early 20s 12" silks were less than a quarter at the dime store. Dyes have changed for the better.

Static electricity will also cause that problem. I believe that animal hair in particular can find a charged silk in a sealed Mason hidden in the freezer two blocks away! Itís like a computer screen. It is a magnet.

The other thing is that the only kid in the audience who just spilled grape drink on himself, is the only volunteer you can get! Of course you will be working with your new white silks. The more you have invested, the more certain it is that he will stain every single one of them.

Donít take collector silks on stage. Neither they nor you need the stress.

Egg white is another No! No!

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: David Bilan (May 31, 2005 01:00PM)
Static electricity... shocking!
Message: Posted by: magic_man204 (Jun 29, 2005 10:32PM)
Great post! Thanks for taking the time.
Message: Posted by: Marvello (Jul 7, 2006 03:45PM)
What about silks that are printed with designs?
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jul 8, 2006 10:27PM)
On 2006-07-07 16:45, Marvello wrote:
What about silks that are printed with designs?

Where the printing is done is VIP! A safe rule of thumb is that if you would not buy their solid color silks, you certainly don't want to invest in their printed silks.

Care for good printed silks is no different than for good solid color silks.

A common error for all is letting them soak too long.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: cartoon cowboy (Jul 15, 2006 10:27AM)
Back when I was performing every week or 2, I did a few silk tricks in each show. Not big ones, though. I never washed my silks, but they never seemed to get dirty. The wrinkles were few and never bothered me. Now, again I am talking small silks, ex: I lay out 3 9" silks, use them for Silk Seranade, then Crystal tube, then when the show is over I fold them twice and slide them in the package with the flat props. They never seemed to fade with dirt. Do you suppose that for the weekend magician with limited silk use, that little care is needed?

I wonder if washing does create more creased wrinkles and static electricity. I'm sure that it is necessary for heavy-use silks and big shows, but would you reccommend it for us "birthday magicians" as well? If so I'll try the various methods mentioned here and see what results I get.

I am interrested in doing more silk magic (Rice's vol. 1 is soon to be on my shelf I think) and I am gearing up to do many more shows and some bigger ones too.

Ooh, while I'm at it - last question: I am going to get a mismade flag set. Any tips on washing a silk with 2 bright primary (and potentially bleeding) colors on it?

Erick Hershey