The kinshi (real gold) threads arrived today, along with some metallic gold synthetic thread (mylar wrapped around a nylon core). The dyeable nylon/metallic thread and dyeable glitter yarn had already arrived, so I decided to do a quick test to see how dyeing affected the different yarns. I made a batch of small samples, testing dyeing the thread by itself as well as the thread twisted with a strand of silk (which is how I would use it), using fiber-reactive dyes and acid dyes.
Here’s what I started with:
And here’s what the finished samples looked like (click to enlarge):
The fiber-reactive dye bath didn’t seem to affect either the kinshi or the synthetic thread visibly. But the acid + heat of the acid dyebath produced some really interesting results. It stripped away all the gold on the kinshi thread, leaving a copper colored base (visible in the fourth sample from the left). And the two nylon threads shrank and crinkled considerably, resulting in a crinkly, textured thread when plied with silk. Only the mylar/nylon synthetic metallic gold thread was unaffected.
My conclusion? Work with fiber-reactive dyes (which are easier to use when painting a warp, anyway) and use either the synthetic or the real gold thread, plied with silk.
But which thread to use? In truth I could use either one, and it probably wouldn’t make a huge difference. The real gold threads will tarnish over time, and the synthetic won’t. But I love the idea of weaving with real gold thread, so I’ll likely use the kinshi threads rather than the synthetic. I found a yarn company that is willing to ply the thread with some silk for me…so I’ll be packing up the kinshi thread in the next few days and dropping it into the mail. It will probably take about three or four weeks for the plied yarn to return, which will give me just enough time to warp up and weave the yardage for my Handwoven article.
I love the idea of working with real gold too! Wonderful stuff. I look forward to watching developments.
Nancy C. says
I like the idea of gold thread, too, but will the tarnish also rub off and discolor the threads around it? Would it obfuscate the design in doing so?
Tien Chiu says
I don’t know. I don’t think so, based on what I’ve seen in old textiles – the gold thread just gets darker.
Bella Gentry says
I didn’t think gold tarnishes that much. Nothing under my ring anyway. That is very beautiful thread. The Khmer girl’s name Dinn is the same as the word for the gold threads used in tapestries, and also means “precious.” Writtne in Khmer script, it is maybe the most beautiful word ever. It is my daughter’s middle name, so I think I may call her Kinshi sometimes for a nickname. It’s good to see you again. I’ve been folllowing you since your tramp through Southeast Asia but lost track of you at the beginning of your wedding weaving. (Before actual engagement.) Congratulations! I wish you all the best.