Silk printing calls for no special mention. The colours and methods employed are the same as for wool, except that in the case of silk no preparation of the material is required before printing and the ordinary dry steaming is preferable to damp steaming.
Both acid and basic dyes play an important role in silk printing, which for the most part is confined to the production of articles for wearing apparel dress goods, handkerchiefs, scarves, articles for which bright colours are in demand. Alizarine and other mordant colours are mainly used, or ought to be, for any goods that have to resist repeated washings and prolonged exposure to light. In this case the silk frequently requires to be prepared in alizarine oil, after which it is treated in all respects like cotton steamed, washed and soaped the colours used being the same.
Silk is especially adapted to discharge and reserve effects. Most of the acid dyes can be discharged in the same way as when they are dyed on wool; and reserved effects are produced by printing mechanical resists, such as waxes and fats, on the cloth and then dyeing it up in cold dye-liquor. The great affinity of the silk fiber for basic and acid dyestuffs enables it to extract colouring matter from cold solutions, and permanently combine with it to form an insoluble lake. After dyeing, the reserve prints are washed, first in cold water to get rid of any colour not fixed on the fiber, and then in hot water or benzene, to dissolve out the resisting bodies.
As a rule, after steaming, silk goods are only washed in hot water, but, of course, those printed entirely in mordant dyes will stand soaping, and indeed require it to brighten the colours and soften the material.