Tag Archives: silk painting technique

Painting and Drawing on Silk Chiffon

Silk dye drawing level of transparencyI’ve  started experimenting on silk chiffon.  Wow- what a great fabric. Soft, strong, and it takes the dye great.   I started the underdrawing with my silk dyes, dried out so the lines would stay, and also used magic sizing on the chiffon.  Dyes  being prepped

Here the dyes are drying a bit- when the water evaporates almost all the way it works great for delicate lines and brushwork.

The drawing worked wonderfully on the magic-sizing prepped chiffon. silk chiffon in dye processAfter steam setting the drawing, I painted it as well, again with the silk dyes and magic sizing.   The chiffon works great- the colors spring out vivid, and the details very sharp.    Day Lillies on silk chiffon

And the transparency- it fascinates me.  I love the chiffon with just the drawing, and then again with the painting effect.  Day Lillies painting on chiffon level of transparency

I’m linking up to Nina-Marie Sayre’s Off the Wall Friday– check it out!

Tulips- A Quick Painting

April Tulips EmergingI’ve gotten accustomed to using a variety of techniques in my recent work, and steaming the silk between each step.  I streamlined my process for Tulips, hoping to capture some spontaneity.

I created a line drawing on silk treated with Magic Sizing, then steamed it.  Next I used gutta lines to block out my drawing, and added blocks of color.  Tulips

After this steaming, I’ve added details.  And- I think it is done.  I’ll get a final picture after I stretch it…

Salt Resist Technique- Checking the Details

Salt resist on silk

Here’s my salt resist recipe :

One cup Table Salt

Five Cups Boiling Water

I let the salt dissolve, took the pan off the heat, and submerged the painting.  after a few minutes I removed the painting.  Once it had drip dried a bit (and cooled), I hung it to finish drying.

The next day, when it was completely dry, I could see the salt crystals on the fabric.  The photo shows how saturated the painting will be with the resist, with this salt recipe.  So now I am ready to use my stencils and spray bottles with my dye.

Stencils… And More Stencils….

Spraying over the StencilAfter the steamer disaster, I had to rework details on my three Winter Tree Series.  Back came the Magic Sizing- and I drew in details in faded and blurred areas.  Then steamed again…

Next, back came the stencils!  At this point, they were pretty soggy, but I did my best.    Also, I tried to keep pace with two other paintings, also at the stencil stage- so I did a lot of paper cutting.   For one area, I wanted a soft misty effect.  I tried to use cotton balls, pulled apart until wispy, to mask an area.  And- it worked!  Stencils- Used again...Stencils for River RocksDrying StencilsCotton as a stencil

Setback! New Steamer isn’t so great….

Silk bundle inside steamerI’ve used this steamer for years- it is coated in teflon, and the inside bottom is scratched and therefore compromised, so I took it from kitchen use and devoted it to studio use.    However, if you let teflon pans boil dry they can release a toxic fume.  Well, I let this one boil dry- it did smell TERRIBLE and I think it made some smoke.  I quickly aired out the house, but decided then and there to get another steamer.

Here’s the new one!  But- I found it doesn’t work as easily as my old one!  And… found out the hard way…

New SteamerAfter steaming my three Winter Tree Series paintings , I found that I had areas that washed out, faded areas, fugitive dyes,and  dye transfers.  Wow.  I rarely had any of these problems before.

I think that the new steamer has more problems with condensation- and also the lighter inside of the pot may not keep the environment as hot.  I’m working now to save these paintings…



Winter Tree Series- Can salt resolve a problem?

I’ve identified a  problem with my Winter Tree series. I need to keep the backgrounds simple, but I don’t like them as flat as they are.  So, let me try to add texture, while keeping it simple.  Now, I am remembering a resist technique done with salt on silk… If I can reproduce it, that might do the trick.  Here’s one of the paintings, with a too flat background. Silk Dye over Drawing

So the technique I remember involves dipping the silk into a bath of water and LOTS of salt.  Next dry it, press it, and use a mist of dye to saturate the fabric.  The effect of the salt crystals is that it resists the dye, keeps it from flowing, and preserves tiny white or un-dyed spots wherever the salt crystals are, giving a pointillist effect.

The salt to water ratio I used was roughly 8 cups of water to 3/4 lbs of plain table salt.  I boiled the water on the stovetop, dissolved the salt as much as possible, and removed the pan from the heat.   I dropped in three of my winter tree painting series (they are small paintings).  I let the salt water infuse the silk for 20 minutes or so, and then removed the paintings to the sink and let them cool.  Oh!  I burned myself at this stage! They were so hot!  Next time I’ll make sure to use a wooden spoon to remove them…Drawing Stencil at the Window

Don’t rinse them!  When they are cool, gently squeeze out the excess and hang the silk to dry.  The next day they were dry- and I could see the salt crystals evenly distributed, encrusting the silk.  I pressed the silk with a warm iron, to get a nice drawing surface.  Ready to make a stencil

I taped the paintings to the window- so I could trace a stencil using recycled paper.  I traced the trees, then cut the stencils for each of the three paintings.

After cutting the stencil, I stretched the painting back on the frame, and placed the stencil on top.  Then I sprayed the painting with dye in a mist bottle,  to get some background color.  Cut Paper Stencil

Finally I ended up with a softer background for each of the paintings.   Now I will need to steam set it, and only then rinse out the salt.  A vinegar rinse  after that should make them soft and luminous again.  I’m not quite at that stage- the last painting is still drying on the frame…

After Spray Dyeing using Stencil

Water and Rocks – in progress

Another work in progress is Water and Rocks, from a recent sketch.  The drawing layer came out nicely- the dried dye I used to “draw” with seems quite vibrant  on the white silk.   (Sometimes I find that my greens do not have as much luminosity when used this way…)  So- my challenge here is to move forward while retaining enough simplicity to reflect the sketch.

Water and Rocks beginning stage

On another note… Thank you to a generous textile artist  for providing some major inspiration.  I have linked up to her Off the Wall Friday.  And have really enjoyed her blog.  Thanks, Nina-Marie, for your insightful writing on your creative endeavors, and on your lovely textile work!

Winter Tree Series Begun

Drawings in my sketchbook spurred me to a new series in process now.   Working on silk coated with Magic Sizing, and using a brush with very little dye, I can work with a linear quality I usually find in my pencil drawings.  Drawing on Silk

After steam setting this drawing, I can rinse out the Magic Sizing and start on the next layer.  I’ll be adding some color, so I will need to preserve the tree outlines with my water resistant gutta.  Gutta outlines on my grawing

After the gutta dries, I can add color.  Silk Dye over Drawing

After adding my silk dye, I tried to add a bit of texture with some salt, with little result on this painting.  My next stage will be some shadowing on the trees.  This painting is looking a bit underfinished to me, but I do like the direction it is heading.

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



Learning about using Magic Sizing as a Resist

Thanks to some great internet information, I have begun to learn a new silk painting process.  I saw some information about it in several different sources, which took me along a path revealing details about this intruiging method.

Artist and silk painting master Karen Sistek has developed the method of using a spray starch as an anti- fusant.  Her work is amazing; such detail and control, paired with bold composition. Karen has unselfishly described her techniques and shares her knowledge freely.  I found two other sources describing this technique and both give credit to her.

Francine Dufour Jones has disseminated Karen’s discussion of this technique on her wonderful website dedicated to sharing tips for silk painters.  Francine’s wonderful site constantly educates and inspires me.  To read Francine’s post, look under the Magic Sizing category.

Finally, artist Husna Rafath  has created a You Tube Video demonstrating her method inspired by Sistek’s  method.  I really enjoyed this video- the music is beautiful, and I love the way Rafath put it together.  She also includes her own twist on the method-  that of mixing small amounts of dye directly into a small container with Magic Sizing.  She says this idea came to her as a way of preserving the Magic Sizing and being thrifty with it… I think her innovation is very creative.

I became interested in this method as I learned about it from these sources.  I have been doing my own experimenting, and will write about that soon.  I am very grateful to these three artists and silk painters who have so generously shared their knowledge.  .