Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Chinese Invented It: Silk: Making a Silk Calligraphy Scroll

Having learned about the history of silk and how it is made, we bought silk to see and feel what those silk cocoons can become.


I went to two fabric stores, one of which had no real silk, and the other only had Dupioni silk, which was not the soft shimmering silk we had in mind. Nonetheless, we wanted 100% silk, and Dupioni silk is beautiful, with its thick weave and luster. It was interesting to compare it to the Chinese silk robe my sister bought me on her trip to China a few years ago.



Making a Silk Calligraphy Scroll

With our length of silk, the girls each made a calligraphy scroll. They each had a piece of silk that was approximately 10" wide and 24" long. We also used a bamboo calligraphy brush, black acrylic paint or ink, a wooden dowel and black embroidery thread (or yarn, or ribbon) to hang it.


The girls first thought of which word they would like to paint in Chinese characters. After much deliberation and a few changes of minds about what words would represent this time in their lives, they each chose their words: Elle chose 'Friendship' and Pea chose 'Forgiveness'. We googled the Chinese characters for these words, and they practiced painting them on paper first.


We initially used calligraphy ink on a small sample piece that worked very well. However, once Elle did her calligraphy with ink on the silk, the ink bled, likely due to how much larger these characters were rather than our sample lines. She still liked the end result, which was a relief :) Pea decided to use black acrylic paint, which did not go on as smoothly, but did not run, and she was happier with that result.


Once the ink and paint dried, I hemmed the edges, sewing a small pocket at the top of each scroll. The dowels were cut to extend past both ends of the scroll by approximately 1/2 inch. The edges were lightly sanded, and the dowels were painted black. We used embroidery thread to hang the scrolls, and tied it with a simple knot on both ends of the dowel.


Elle's scroll, with the Chinese character for "Friendship".

Pea's scroll, with the Chinese character for "Forgiveness".
The scrolls are now hanging on their bedroom doors, reminding them daily of important values.

In learning about silk, we learned its history and legends with related books, learned the process of making silk, and even tried raising our own silkworms.

You can find more cultural and historical activities at the following linkups:
You can find more creative and kid friendly activities at the following linkups:



Best4Future Wednesdays
Highhill Homeschool

15 comments:

  1. These are so beautiful. Was the silk expensive?

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    1. The price was under $10 - I asked for the minimum amount of silk they would cut (which turned out to be 0.2 yards) which gave us the perfect amount for a scroll :)

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  2. Beautiful project! Thanks for sharing it at After School.

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  3. My kids still have the silk hangings they made when studying China. They are very nice and the experience, as yours was, was very memorable.

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    1. Silk is quite beautiful, isn't it, and working with it, knowing where it comes from really does make it memorable.

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  4. You have the most amazing and handy Chinese craft posts I have even seen. So detailed and neat, and is in English. I would love to feature some of your posts on my blog. Is it ok?

    Anyway, I added your site to my "link" page (http://www.best4future.com/blog/links). Keep in touch!

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    1. Thank you Lina! You can absolutely feature anything you want :) And thanks for hosting the link up!

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  5. Oh, how beautiful! I love the words they chose and how careful they were with their calligraphy.

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    1. Thank you Natalie - I'll tell the girls. I also love the words they chose, I'm sure they will be lovely reminders for all of us at times.

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  6. I have been loving this series on silk and silkworms - I've learned so much. (I even found myself googling silk and vegetarianism at one point!)
    The girls' scrolls are gorgeous - they (and you!) must be so proud of them.

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    1. Thanks! We are quite proud. I really found this subject fascinating as well - to think this luxury fabric is woven from the "spit" of caterpillars... did you come across "Peace Silk" ?- where the pupae becomes a moth, and silk is made from the cocoon by using the broken filament pieces.

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  7. You all did so well! We printed our silk using screen printing but I (rather stupidly) forgot that the characters needed to be back to front to start with, so ours came out beautifully but the wrong way round!
    I'll stick to painting characters next time. Chinese is hard enough without having to put it the wrong way round! (I'm not sure that sentence makes sense, but I know what I mean!)

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    1. Your silk screen prints turned out gorgeous! We did the same about doing characters backwards with our first chops - so I can relate, and your sentence made perfect sense to me :) The upside is whether a character is backwards or not, it is hard for us to tell!

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  8. Hey its nice for home decoration so what you are doing for chinese or for other languages i think you have made its like fengshui correct me if i am wrong.

    ISO 2341 | DIN 1444

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