Tag Archives: Magic Sizing as a Resist

Steaming on the Stovetop

Having started several paintings, using magic sizing on the silk for the preliminary drawings, I am ready to steam set.  Here is a quick picture diary of the steam setting I am doing today:

Wrapping silk in a bundle for steaming

The silk paintings have the magic sizing on them, and the preliminary drawings are dry.  There are two in this bundle I am making, separated by a layer of cotton.  I roll up the paintings and tie the bundle loosely with a soft cotton cord.

Bundle ready for steaming

Here is the bundle- ready for the stovetop steamer.  I will leave it in for at least 30 minutes.  Silk bundle inside steamerThe steamer is gently steaming over medium heat- and now I put the lid on it and let it quietly steam.  Washing out the sizing

After the steaming is done, I lift out the bundle.  Ouch!  I’ve been too hasty too many times- it is so hot!  And stays hot, as I unroll it.  So- be careful! It can burn … Anyway, now I get to give them  a light wash to remove the magic sizing from the initial painting step.  Some people use a fancy soap- I don’t care for too many chemicals.  I use a tiny drop of dish detergent.  It still may stress the silk if it is too harsh.  Adding a vinegar rinse

I add a few splashes of white vinegar to a final cold rinse, to restore the natural acidic balance to the silk, after the detergent and magic sizing.  It seems to help- it certainly restores the shine and luster.  I’ll iron these dry- or let them hand on a clothesline.  And then I am ready to begin next layer of painting.

New Favorite, Almost Didn’t Make It

Ever had a painting you started, and somewhere along the way something goes wrong?  What about getting it right again?  Saving a painting seems rare enough that I’m ready to celebrate.

Applying Color after Magic Sizing

Here it is, stage one.  I applied Magic Sizing, let it dry, and then blocked out my dominant shape.  Notice… after this moment, there are no more photographs of the painting in stages.  Yes, it went south right after this.

I added some bold green in diagonals, and a soft grey background.  The idea was to capture the shapes of the spring daffodils I had seen, in a graphic simple way.  Well, graphic and simple I got.  But the colors fought, the shapes had no rhythm, and try as I might, I couldn’t blend anything together.

I tried the usual tricks.  The muted colors floating over  a too-flat area.  The texture added in small doses.  Then in desperately large doses.  And my emergency re-boot… flipping it to use the opposite side hoping the composition will be more dynamic reading the opposite way (the benefits of dye on fabric- it goes all the way through…).  Didn’t work.  Reader, I HATED it.

It sat on a shelf for almost a year.  I got stubborn and started reworking it again, without a great deal of hope.  Actually, with no hope.  Just stubbornness.  But for some reason, it came to life again.

Daffodils in Moonlight



Sketchbook Challenge Sketches

Inspires by this month’s subject, “Shelter”, I tried several quick sketches.  The subject of each, the enormous tree in front of my house, could fill a sketch book itself as I work to do justice to it!

I used a narrow scrap of silk, and coated it with Magic Sizing.  I am enjoying learning how the dyes combine on the coated silk.  My brushes were fairly wet as I worked.  Moinsture spread and blended the colors, and as the piece dried the moist dye flowed in interesting ways, slowed down by the Magic Sizing.

I like how the colors brighten after steaming, and how I was able to write text directly onto the silk without it blurring, and the colors stayed nicely fresh and separate as well.

To Wrap Up… Playing with Magic Sizing

Have you ever been happily at work on a project only to bog down just before completion for no apparent reason?  Well, that is what I did here, while at work on this last post on experimenting with new techniques.  So sorry!  That feels so frustrating!  But here is the last installment, as I try to wrap things up on this.

The completed painting , above, started with color-blocked shapes on silk that I prepped with Magic Sizing.  This allowed me to use a large brush and work in the tree scape, the river, and the sky.  I also put the shadowed side of the rocks down as well.  At this point I steamed it, rinsed it, and went to the next stage.

Stage two began with some gutta lines to define shapes within shapes.  You can see the gutta lines over the initial shapes, in the upper tree area.  I could get more color contrast in the water, and in the grass.  I did move on to several other steamings on this, but most of it took shape in stages one and two.

In this one, I mixed my “two techniques” freely… the Magic Sizing prepped silk and the gutta resist method, that is.   And in this one I really learned some mark making vocabulary with the Magic Sizing technique…

I LOVED the marks that resulted from spaying a second coat of Magic Sizing into still-damp dyed silk.  Look in the upper leaves of the trees to see the blotchy marks of green-on-green.  The photo loses some of the smaller, more textured marks abound the bigger ones.

Not as thrilling was the jagged edge that formed slowly (tricky, because you think you are home free, and then look later and there it is) on edges of shapes where I used more water than necessary.  The Magic Sizing prepped silk is tricky like this- the initial strike with the dye on the damp brush looks perfect.  And then water (and dye) is drawn into the surrounding shapes slowly.  You can see where I made this mistake- see the bottom of the rock to the right.

In this one I used gutta to block out the shape of the blue jay, and after the gutta dried I used Magic Sizing on the silk.  Then I blocked in the big shapes.  After a steaming I started layering the water, using the gutta to block out the river area, and then painting wet-into-wet for the watery effect.  After every thing else had been completed and the silk steamed once again, I used the magic sizing again and put in the details of the blue jay’s markings.  So I went back and forth with the techniques on this one.

I am so grateful to everyone who helped me learn about this-  Karen Sistek, Francine Dufour Jones, and others who have posted information to share their knowledge and skill.  In my previous post on this topic I have a few links to information they have posted.  This has been an exciting topic to explore- thanks to all who have helped me!

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.