A Beautiful, Unusual Silk: Gazar

I’ve been gathering interesting fabrics for a few years when I’m traveling and at home in San Francisco at Britex Fabrics—a fantastic place. I’ve had the idea of dyeing them with easy-to-use natural dyes. Even though my stash was pretty big, I bought quite a lot on my last trip to India. My tech guy had an eye opener when he saw how I shopped: “a meter of this, ½ meter of that, do you have anything really special, etc. etc.” We went to a shop that only had linen that I’d heard had fantastic prices and then to another large shop that had everything including ribbon and trim. By that time, I was thinking of making my scrolls as well as dyeing. (All those fabrics are still in the bag I brought them home in.) This fabric I discovered at a huge fabric store in New York where designers go. I was nosing around the silk area and someone pointed out that this particular silk once creased could never be ironed out. It is quite stiff and has a lovely sheen and complicated twill lines in the structure.

Today was my third attempt at ironing out the creases and gentle folds of my Gazar silk. Even though I asked the clerk not to fold it and put it in its own shopping bag, there were lines that had to be removed. While ironing today I saw how beautiful it was in the light as it draped off the ironing board.

Another look at it falling off the ironing board made me think of gorgeous wedding gown silk.

Here was my view while ironing. I often take the communal ironing board to the window in our 8th floor lounge. Today it was not only for the view, but for the morning light.

Here’s an example of tiny creases I was ironing out. The photo also gives a glimpse of the weave structure. I didn’t think of photographing the more obvious creases and gentle fold lines, but this is an example when I was almost finished.

This was the equipment I used. On my first attempt I only used a dry iron, with low, med and high heat which didn’t do the job. A neighbor down my hall suggested the technique I used last night and again today. Medium heat and a thin press cloth that I spritzed then tapped the iron on the cloth gently—tap, tap, tap over the spots that needed work. Then I ironed the little area I was working on without the cloth. I love my cordless iron. I think a regular cord would just muss up the cloth as I worked along. I kept spritzing, tapping, and ironing all over the “bad” places I’d marked with safety pins.

Now it’s hanging in my hallway with clothes pins on hangers. In the morning I’ll check if there are any more spots to work on.

For fun I’m showing you more of my hall outside my apartment door.

13 thoughts on “A Beautiful, Unusual Silk: Gazar”

  1. Hello Peggy,
    I wanted to take a moment to thank you for sharing your blogs. It is always such a pleasure receive them in my email box. I hope you are keeping well through this ‘Covid’ time.

  2. Hi Peggy!! I really enjoy receiving your emails! It’s like I’m sitting across the kitchen table drinking coffee and catching up with my best friend!
    Keep them coming!!❤️

    • Hi Peggy,
      That will is beautiful and thanks for the blog posts. Enjoying my morning coffee while reading it.
      What type of iron do you use? Nice view you have too!

      • Panasonic cordless iron. I love it. Some don’t because if you don’t put in the “dock” often enough it will turn off. I use it just like my old iron–iron a bit, put it down and adjust the cloth, then pick it up again so it’s perfect for me. It does hold the heat for a good while I would say. There’s some sort of battery in the dock. And that needs to be plugged it. I use it on my kitchen pull out bread board, even on the toilet seat once for some little thing that needed a dab of ironing (and probably the kitchen sink was too full to use the board!) So glad you like my posts. I enjoy reaching out.

  3. Smart idea to iron where you get the view and work!! Love the material. I remember the shop in San Francisco. Where did you go in NYC?

  4. Peggy, Why don’t you consider asking me? I was licensed as a dry cleaner in CA. I still remember a few tricks. contact https://www.naturalcitizen.com/collections/wrinkle-releaser
    for a wrinkle release spray.

    I used wrinkle release every time I installed draperies.

    Also, when I worked for the military as a material engineer, My primary tasks was to improve PPE and ICE clothing which included various levels of masks. from particulate to toxic chem and bio chemicals including anthrax and ballistic resistant products. I made prototypes. I also have sold and set up commercial facilities with computerized equipment. But, I started out as a machine operator.

    In making the shaped masks. Consider picking up a sport cap that has taped seams. one of the side panels of that type of hat is equivalent to one mask.

    Well next time, just ask me. I have probably done that.. With love, your east coast Fiber friend.

  5. Peggy, you are a fascinating lady. I enjoy so much seeing your travel pictures and reading your blogs. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Gazar is a special silk and part of this is due to the sericin content. You can treat the textile to selectively remove the sericin (degumming) using shibori (stitch resist, folding and clamping, etc.) to create a design and heating the textile in a solution of sodium carbonate to expose it to a high pH. Texturewise, removal of sericin softens the textile. Subsequent dyeing yields different color effects in areas where sericin has or has not been removed.

    • I wonder if you did the degumming with Yoshiko Wada, or someone else in the San Francisco Bay Area. I took a couple wonderful workshops with Yoshiko. I also hear that Washing soda would degum but she didn’t like that. I’ll think about trying it on a small piece –the silk was hugely expensive but I spent the money long ago so that isn’t an issue now. I’m glad to know that the crispness is the sericin–but I should have known that since I like to use organza–it dyes so much stronger than degummed silks. Are you familiar personally with gazar?? Isn’t it wonderful?
      Maybe you are a neighbor. I live and my studio is in Marin County in Greenbrae, just south of San Rafael and next to Larkspur.

  7. I did the degumming with Amy Putansu (replaced Catherine Ellis at the Professional Crafts Program at Haywood Community College in NC) in a workshop at Maiwa in 2016. I was doing a lot of stitch resist and itajime shibori coupled with natural dyeing at the time, so being able to obtain both different texture and color was wonderful. Organza is a super example of silk that still retains sericin. Gazar was among the silks that we worked with and I bought a small amount of yardage, but I haven’t touched it!
    I very much enjoy your blog and your publications have been immensely helpful as I switch gears from shibori and natural dyeing to weaving. Thank you!

  8. Not quite a close neighbor as I live in the Santa Cruz Mtns in an unincorporated area called Bonny Doon. Perhaps someday, when we settle in with a new normal, we can meet up in San Francisco. I’d like that!


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