Working with Magic Sizing as a Resist

I’ve been playing with a new technique for about a month now…applying Magic Sizing to my silk and using it as a resist.  Thanks to Karen Sistek, who developed this technique,  and to Francine Dufour Jones for sharing information about this process.

Here’s some brief notes about the process I have tried:

I spray the stretched silk with sizing as a first step.  It doesn’t take much to coat the silk with a wet coat.

Sometimes the sizing puddles a bit.  Then I use a folded paper towel to spread it more evenly across the silk. 

At this point I let it dry.  It doesn’t take all that long to let it air dry.  However, I often get impatient!  So, I dry it with a hairdryer if I can’t wait for it to air dry!Now I can begin to add color.  This is where it gets exciting.  I can use a big sponge brush to add big blocks of color, or block in shapes for the composition I plan to use.  My previous experience with silk tells me that  with no sizing added, color will spread as far as possible before drying with a broken line on dry silk, or with a diffused cloud effect on wet silk.  However, with magic sizing as a resist, color will stay, with blocky edges and no diffusing.  This is very freeing!This is such a different effect than what I have previously learned; such new paths to learn now!  Here is the first painting I completed using this process.  Here it is in progress.  This new technique will take much effort to master, and I am just beginning with it.  I love it, and can’t wait to see how it will change my work.  At the beginning of this year I challenged myself to work more with incorporating drawing into my work, and also work with developing shapes and blocks of color, not just line.  This technique allows for exactly that.

33 responses to “Working with Magic Sizing as a Resist

  1. I have everything I need to start painting on silk (I think) but am somewhat intimidated by the whole process. Any advice for a beninner?

  2. Hi Carol! I think you will enjoy painting on silk very much. I would say to start, maybe play around with some doodles on the silk. Are you going to be using a gutta to make lines and shapes? I use a water based gutta (Silkpaint brand) and I really like it because I don’t have to have it dry cleaned to remove it; just run it under warm water and gently rub it.

    I think it would be fun to start with some doodles, and maybe a few dyes in your favorite color range ( mine is greens with some purple) and then dive in. Once you have your gutta lines, you can try dyeing on dry silk. Then maybe wet the silk first in some areas, with a wet sponge brush, and then put some dye in those areas. You’ll get a great feel for how the dye handles. Well, have fun… I know you will enjoy it! I’d love to know what you think of the medium!

    • Hi again,

      The gutta I have is Jacquard gutta resist and is not water based. How do I clean it and can you please tell me about the steaming of the dyes after application.


      • Carol,
        I think the gutta you are using must be the same I have used in the past; it is one that needs to be dry cleaned if I am remembering correctly. That is, once you have finished your painting, and steam set your dyes, you take it to the dry cleaner to have it removed. Afterwards the white of the silk where the gutta was looks so bright, and the dye colors are so vibrant!

        For steam setting the process is pretty simple. I use Dupont dyes; I set them for about 30 minutes. I believe most steam set dyes will set with about the same amount of time.

        I use a stove top steamer. I wrap the finished silk painting in a piece of white or beige cotton (or you can use newsprint, either blank or newspaper several days old so the ink doesn’t come off) and cover each side of the silk with it. Then roll or wrap it into a small bundle; maybe tie it with string or a loose rubber band to keep it from unfolding in the steamer. Put it in the steamer. Don’t let it touch the sides at all. Put a folded towel on top to catch any drips , and don’t let the towel touch the bottom, or sides, or top of your pot. Just protecting everything from wicking up moisture this way. Then steam it for about 30 minutes.

        Wash it, maybe with a bit of detergent. I really don’t care for Synthropol, a detergent many people use. I just use a drop of dish soap actually. Rinse until no dye comes out. I do a final rinse with cold water and a capful of white vinegar, to restore acidity and give the silk back its’ shine. And that’s it.

        Oh, about the gutta- the one you are using is so nice; it makes a really pretty line. Enjoy your painting! I’d love to know how your project is going!

  3. I’ve been silk painting for a little while now and had never heard of this magic sizing stuff. I’m so excited to use it to get some nice detailed line work !
    Just wanted to say thanks for putting in the effort to make this blog, I’m learning so much 😀

    • Thank you, Ella. I am so pleased you took the time to check out my blog. I find silk painting so special- it’s a media like none other, as far as I am concerned. I have been looking for online postings and sources for learning more about techniques, so I’d love to share and talk about any silk painting learning that comes my way.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I would love if you describe more ways of applying MS on silk and its removal and fixing too. And what colors will work the best with MS. I m working on it too but need to learn more and more as MS is the most exciting way for me now a days

    • Thank you. I really love using the magic sizing; it allows for layering in a very interesting way. I have loved working with silk since I started twenty years ago, and the magic sizing has added a new dimension. I’d love to hear more about the techniques you try too.

      As far as the removal and fixing, I proceed as I would normally, with rolling the silk in a paper or cloth bundle, then steaming it. It does seem to hold more dye than otherwise and I have experienced more bleeding through of the dye in the steaming step. Perhaps add an extra layer of paper or cloth to absorb any that might try to bleed through… And the removal is simply washing in cold water after the steaming is complete.

  5. Hi there, I also have a WordPress blog,, and stumbled upon Goosebumps Texture Spray looking for a way to use a spray resist on my stamps but can’t figure out if it would steam out. Don’t know yet, but will ask supplier. Can you tell me where to buy the spray you used? I also have a sticky gummy bunch of black gutta lines on my recent scarf which was steamed. I have tried: ironing, dry cleaning, rubbing with toothbrush in warm water and it just won’t budge. ideas?
    I live in Australia, please visit my site if you have a chance!

    • Hi Marta,
      I like the idea of the texture spray. I’d like to hear more about how you have used it in your silk painting. The spray starch I use for silk painting is called Magic Sizing but it seems to me that other brands would work as well. I’ve never tried dipping the silk in starch and letting it dry before painting, but I may try it to see what effects it might create. The Magic Sizing is basically a spray starch for use for ironing shirts and so forth.

    • And, Marts, I wanted to ask as well about the gutta lines. I have used some water based gutta that really took some effort to wash out after steaming. I used fairly warm water and let it soak, and then gently brushed it away. It took a lot of work, and I found that if I used too much pressure I’d pull the silk weave. But I use water based gutta only now, and mot of the time I don’t have a problem. Maybe I’d let it soak for a while in warm water before trying to gently scrub it a bit.

  6. I have just recently started painting on silk but I’m using Setasilk paint instead of dyes. When I paint over the sizing do I need to steam, iron, or put the silk in the dryer? The method I learned initially is to put the scarf in the dryer just before it is completely dry, and it has worked well with the paint so far.

    • I’m so glad you mentioned Setasilk. I have not used it, so I looked it up. It sounds like a great medium, and I’d love to try it. I wonder how it would work with the sizing- or with any resist. Oh, how fun! If you decide to try an experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes, and also what you think of it as you experiment!

  7. I used the permanent colored guttas. I find them really difficult to use and to thin to the correct consistency. Also tried the Pebo colored guttas. My question is this; if I steam fix my scarves that I have used the PEBO colored, metallic, water based guttas will the gutta wash off and leave a metallic finish or just a clear line? If I want to keep the metallic lines how do I go about the finishing of the silk?

    • Hi Janell. I am so sorry for the delay in answering your comment! Please forgive me! I am very interested in your experience with the permanent colored guttas. I have not used them myself! I cannot answer your question about the water based metallic gutta because I have only once used a metallic gutta, andit was many years ago. I do not think it was water based, and I do not even think it was washable. I cannot give any detail on what brand or any other qualities it had, since it was so long ago. I have not used one since then. I am afraid I cannot answer your question! I am interested in your experience and would love to know if you liked the metallic water based gutta, and if you found it to be a metallic finish, or clear after you finished the silk. Thanks for your comment!

      • Hi, SO I have used the Pebo metallic guttas and then gone on the steam them. They do retain the metallic look. However they also remain as a somewhat raised line. They can be felt on the silk so thin lines work better than thick one but they aren’t that great at holding the dyes in and the lines break and leak. That may be something that I’m doing wrong. I would love suggestions. I have used them more as an embellishment to my designs and then they look great!

      • Ah, I really appreciate your reply. Thanks soooo much for sharing your knowledge. I really want to experiment with the metallic resists soon. AndI’m so glad to hear how you found them to be. I checked out the Pebeo metallic gutta online. Thanks again, and great to hear your reply!

    • Hi Jane,
      Your metallic gutta will wash out as it is waterbased. Use the metallics for wall hanging s or other no wearable art. Goodluck with your efforts.

  8. Hello, enjoyed reading your bog post. I am about to try using magic sizing on some silk scarves. Normally I steam several at a time rolled with paper in between. I use a stove-pipe type stove top steamer. You say the following in one of your comments:
    “As far as the removal and fixing, I proceed as I would normally, with rolling the silk in a paper or cloth bundle, then steaming it. It does seem to hold more dye than otherwise and I have experienced more bleeding through of the dye in the steaming step. Perhaps add an extra layer of paper or cloth to absorb any that might try to bleed through… And the removal is simply washing in cold water after the steaming is complete.”

    From what you are saying, it sounds like the dye bleeds through the paper and onto whatever is on the other side of that paper. Is that what you mean? If so, I guess rolling multiple scarves together would not be an option? Is that correct?
    I also saw that some one said that the starch was hard to remove after steaming, did you find that to be the case?
    this blog was written several years ago so I am curious if you are still using this technique or if you have moved onto something better.

    THANKS for sharing your experience

    • HI there Sandy, Thank you so much for your comment! When I have steamed scarves or silk pieces in a roll I would often do them together, with the paper or fabric between them. And sometimes it would be fine, and it seemed to me the most efficient way to do it, rather than one at a time. But sometimes the dye would bleed through, and get on the piece underneath, or even to more than one layer. Sometimes the color transfer would be fine, and a “happy accident.” Other times it would be just a flaw, one that would be steamed permanently, and impossible, as far as I know, to undo. So I guess if I were really concerned about preserving the piece or if I had a piece with some really dark, saturated colors, I’d make sure to do it separately. And as far as the starch, I always used sizing in a spray can. And it always seemed to wash out really quickly, and easily. Thank you for your comment!

  9. Hi I’m a painter I want to do silk painting but my question is if I’ll apply dye colour on resist background after completing my work I have to dry-clean or steam the cloth so resist will be washed out but what about the dye colour will it stay or washed out because the dye is painted on resist background ? Pl explain

    • Hi Asha! I think you will enjoy this media- it’s really beautiful, and it is fun- at least I think so! This is my description of what I’ve tried as I attempt the method Karen Sistek has developed and so generously shared on the internet. Here’s what I do. I start with white silk, and stretch it on some kind of a frame. I use the spray starch – or spray sizing, I am not sure what is the correct term!- and I spray the silk with it, and let it get fairly saturated. Then I wait for it to dry. If I really have no patience I use a hair dryer to speed the process, though that seem to have risk of leaving rings of moisture or uneven applications. Then I apply the dye. Again, if I am feeling impatient, I use the hair dryer, though here I really have a tendency to dry too fast and leave a visible ring. When I am done with my painting, I let it dry again- and roll it up carefully in a cloth bundle, and tie it. This bundle is what I steam. After the bundle has steamed long enough to set the dyes, and cooled, I take it out. Then I rinse it. The sizing has always washed out for me without any problem. The dyes should be permanent, if I have watched my time in the steamer right. Well, I hope this helps!

  10. Hi, I want to try 1) ironing the silk onto freezer paper, 2) using the Magic spray sizing and then 3) drawing on the silk with FabricMate markers.
    Do you think the marker ink will be OK, or will it tend to wash out along with the sizing?

    • Hi, I am so super glad you commented and asked about this technique…I don’t know it but I am so interested in what you have mentioned! I am on my way now to buy some freezer paper. Please let me know more! Have you tried this on other fabrics?

  11. I went ahead and tried it: Dharma Habotai 8mm Scarf – 8″ x 54″, washed
    Smart and Final freezer paper, trimmed to slightly larger than scarf and ironed on with medium iron
    Magic sizing – sprayed with 1 medium pass over scarf
    I let that dry for max. of 1 hour, and then started in with the FabricMate markers.
    There were a few spots that were not all the way stuck to the paper, so I had to add some tension by hand there.
    There were also a couple of areas (at the ends) where the spray could have been stronger, so I had to work faster to minimize the dye spread.
    I hung it up with clamp/pant hangers on both ends and dried it with a hot hair dryer.
    I’m very happy with the results. It looks just as I hoped it would, and I am happy wearing it.
    I will check back in and let you know how it looks after washing.

    • Artie, Thanks for the update! I am very interested in this process, and still have not tried a freezer paper stencil. I’d love to hear more about this project, and if you have pictures, I’d love to see them! It sounds like it turned out really beautiful. Thanks for writing!

      • The freezer paper was not exactly a stencil – I used it so I wouldn’t have to stretch the silk, to make it into more of a canvas or paper-like surface. How would I send you a picture?

  12. Hi it’s good to use this process but when u wash it doesn’t color come off with d spray itself ? What is the process of fixing f color pl advice.thanks

  13. I’m wondering how your experimentation with Magic Sizing is coming?
    I’ve not done much with silk…but I teach classes using Fabrico and Fabric Mate permanent pens – on cotton. Cotton is “tricky” as ink frequently bleeds along thread lines. I’ve found spraying and ironing Magic Sizing on both sides of some cottons to really help control the bleeding of ink. Other than M.S….I’ve used a Japanese technique of soaking in soy milk. Not the commercial kind…you must make your own.

    • Hi Patsy,
      Thanks for your comment. I’d love to learn more about your methods of working with cotton. I can appreciate that cotton would be tricky, and can picture how it might bleed , so I am impressed that you can control it. It sounds like M.S. is helpful, but a pretty fussy technique. And tell me more about the soy milk method! How great, and interesting! I’d love to hear more!

      • I teach classes using Tsukineko inks. Both the Fabrico pens and all purpose (liquid) inks will bleed in most cotton fabrics. The Pakistani muslin and the “stretch poplin” (2% spandex) from Jo-Ann’s are about the best. The Pakistani muslin is a finer weave in white or cream. However, when doing portraits with ink….I have to overdye the fabric. Then make a soy milk out of dry beans/water – soak, then whirl in blender, strain, put solids back in blender, repeat, repeat. (3 times) Should be like half/half. Soak the fabric…hang to dry till damp and iron carefully. It can scortch. This is an old Japanese process.
        When teaching with the inks to do decorative work… spray Pakistani muslin on both sides to make it more crisp. The inks have not bled then.
        I’m teaching the ink class at Houston quilt festival on Nov. 1,’19. “Watercolor” Wonders. To look up the class project…go to iqa houston 2019 classes. When it comes up…go to the Friday class listing #517. I’ve devised a way to make the ink look like watercolor work on fabric. It’s a unique technique. Going to be fun.

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