Tag Archives: Silk Painting

At Play

sketches on my workbenchI’m playing- experimenting with collage, drawing,  and dyeing on silk chiffon.  It’s GREAT… though I don’t know where this is leading me…Stitching  as a drawing line

paper and fiber sketches

fiber sketches

Winter Tree Series- Three Completed

Following last week’s setbacks, it was hard to tell how close these paintings were to completion.  A few  more steps on each, and I called them done.
Winter Tree Series- Orange SkyWinter Tree Series- Grey EveningWinter Tree Series- Yellow Sky


I’m linking up to Nina Marie Sayer’s Off the Wall Friday here.  I am ready to check it out for my weekly inspiration!

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!

“Erasing” with Alcohol

I am in the midst of a series of paintings I call my “Winter Tree Series.”  On this particular drawing, I made a big blotch with some dark  green dye, right where I did NOT want it.  Before the dye dried, I attacked it with some rubbing alcohol.  Erasing dye spot with alcohol

The alcohol loosened the dye spot, and dispersed it.  The dye moved to the edges of the alcohol spot, mostly, though it did lightly dye the whole area.   In order to gain a lightening of the  distracting  dye blotch, I did have to sacrifice control over this portion of the painting.

Drying spot with lightened dye blotch

The area with the alcohol is drying- it will be a darker portion than the rest of the painting in progress.  I will probably choose to paint the sky area a medium grey blue now!  Still, the unwanted dye blotch is gone.  Victory!

Inspired to Risk, A Textile Story

Do you ever have a project that starts with great creative force and then for some reason you stall out?  I certainly have.  This particular project has been quite a journey for me, one of the biggest creative challenges I can ever remember.

Silk quilt in beginning stages

Inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood’s remarkable textile work (specifically her Mod Mood Improvisational Quilts), I embarked on my own improvisational quilt.  Without any money to spend on a new project, and with many many scraps of hand painted silk at my disposal, I gave myself the challenge of creating if from throwoff pieces I already had.

I should have known that to follow Wood down the brave and thoughtful path she takes with her artwork, more thinking, feeling, and understanding world be demanded of my creative process that I have ever delivered before.

After much work, I reached a point with my quilt where I simple could not proceed.  It asked for something from me- but what?

Instead of the warm creative wholeness I would normally feel as I worked on a project, I began to dwell on troubling thoughts, dark emotions, and the persistent question “WHY?”

I put it aside for quilt a while, puzzled and a bit troubled.  Inspiration arrived through Denise Burg ‘s textile work, as I had described in my last post.   Her use of color inspired and moved me in an immediate emotional way.

Anyway- I realized that my quilt needed black- against the bright and joyful colors.  Not just as a cold and formal technical solution.  But as an emotional necessity.  The deeper darker questions that have come up in a creative pursuit- had nowhere to go in this quilt.  Now- they do.

Well, this is not the end of the journey.  Only a step along the way.  Technical issues abound with my quilt!   But I feel that I have been true to the creative process- even as I let go of the probability of a beautiful or worthy conclusion.  Many feelings have come up following this creative path.  I think the worst fear is that of looking foolish.  Or is there another fear underneath?!  This process has been incredible demanding.

In a timely coincidence, Sherri Lynn Wood posted some writings on her blog to exactly this point, even as I have been struggling to understand this process in my version of her Mod Mood quilt.

Thank you, Sherri!

Water Soluble Resist Comparison

So I have recently purchased two new Dupont colors- and a new water based resist.  Not only are the Dupont dyes a challenge to order at the moment, the water based resist that I LOVE is not currently available.  Inspired by how much my old color chart helped me make sense of my studio possibilities, I decided to do a side-by side comparison with colors and resists.

First, let’s do the colors.

I concluded right away that Myrthe # 610  won’t be a favorite. Look at the first leaf shape on the left to see it.  Much too minty-green, it seems to stand out from my usual palette like a sore thumb.  Still, I had not yet paired it side by side with many of my other green dyes.  Now I see that it is vivid, but such a cool green.  Still not a favorite.

Citron # 626, new for me, goes head to head with Helianthe, my big favorite.   The middle yellow leaf is Citron, the flanking ones are Helianthe.   Citron is slightly paler, and cooler.  Yet the intensity is holding its own against Helianthe. A very pretty shade.  Not bad!

Now for the resists.

Wow, I do not have too much to say for Jacquard Water Based Resist.  The leaves and linear work on the right portion are the Jacquard resist.  The ones on the left half are made by Silkpaint resist.  Both were in a squeeze bottle with a medium (.07mm, I think) applicator tip.

The Jacquard resist just cannot make a thin line, not much thinner than 1/8 inch , and is very hard to control. I let it dry until it was not transparent ( it continued to spread quite a bit) and then applied dye.  It absorbed dye at all the edges, giving a furry look.  Had I waited until the next day, I am sure the resist would have been sturdier.  But I do not time my work that way.

In some places, like the lower right, the dye completely absorbed and broke through.  This may not be a completely bad thing- it does give a very pretty layering effect, and looks very much like crackle batik.  But the Jacquard resist usefulness is very limited.

The Silkpaint brand resist line is very thin, though I could control the flow by squeezing the bottle, and get a thicker line.  I waited only a few minutes after applying the resist to dye, and the resist did hold a sturdy line against the dye.  In places, it did  absorb the dye, though not as much as the Jacquard resist.

As far as rinsing the resist away after steaming, both resists washed away easily.  I steamed the piece for 10 minutes in high heat and heavy steam, turned the setting to low heat with steady steam for 25 minutes, and then let it cool in the pot for 10 minutes.  So the resist was exposed to high heat and a long steaming time, but with no ill effects whatsoever.  Rinseability was fine.

I think I will use the Jacquard for broader effects, more splotchy and abstract, than what I usually try with resists.  For linear work I want the Silkpaint resist!  I hope it will become available soon!

Confused by the new Dupont Dyes?

Reordering Dupont colors lately has been a challenge!  With Dupont dropping their selection of colors so significantly, and changing and renaming their new offerings, I’ve had to really sort through my old records to try to make sense of what I might be able to replace. One old favorite looks gone for good!  But here’s what I have been sorting through…

When I bought a big batch of Dupont  dye colors from Dharma Trading years ago, February 2004,  I made a color chart.   Now that Dupont has scaled down their selection, and renamed so many colors as well, I thought I’d revisit my chart.

My color chart pictured shows the colors I ordered, with the OLD numbers.  I used a 1:1 dilute for the color strength, and a medium  (.07mm I think) gutta applicator tip.

Here is my list of my colors, with the old numbers, and what I found that corresponded to the new numbers.
In the blue range:

  • Bleuet # 526 (there is a new color named Bleuet, though not the same.)
  • Limoges #314 … new# 205
  • Bleu Roy #108 …new #265

In the red family:

  • Cerisette #390 … new # 460
  • Fuchsia #353 (there is a new color named Fuschia though not the same.)
  • Camellia #474 …gone
  • Muira# 801 … new # 409N

In the green range:

  • Veronese # 354 …gone… MY FAVORITE!
  • Amande #402 … new # 616
  • Menthol # 807 … gone

And my favorite, the yellows:

  • Helianthe # 330 … new # 702
  • Canari  ? (I am not sure)
  • Cigare #413  …new# 811N

Does anyone else have comments about the  new Dupont Dye system ? Or can anyone let me know how Dupont compares to other brands?   I hope my chart  helps to sort out some questions with the new Dupont dyes.  I will be ordering more dyes  soon, I think, and hope to answer some more questions then.  Especially this one… WHAT WILL REPLACE MY BELOVED VERONESE # 354?!

New Dyes From DuPont

Painting in progress showing new Dupont color

New dyes arrived in the mail last week, so I am giving them a try.  Actually I am out of my FAVORITE colors so I don’t have much of a choice!  “Myrthe” # 610 stands in now to replace my beloved “Vert Feuillage” #620.  The result- you can see a bit of difference with the small splashes of the Vert Feuillage in some pale leaves around the cat.  The Myrthe is the bright vivid dye on the outer shapes.  It has dried since this photo to a minty, cool green.  I’ll try to get a truer photo tomorrow.  Totally not satisfactory to replace my big favorite.

Also in this photo, but harder to see, I am auditioning “Citron” 626.  I like it so far, but fortunately for me, it does not have to replace my other favorite, “Helianthe”, as it seems to be available from Dharma.  Last week they did not have it.  As Dharma said on it’s website, “DuPont is a mess.”  Ordering seems to be a bit crazy.  I’m hoping for some more choices in the vivid green department.

Pick Up the Pace

Four paintings a month.  That is my progress… for about a year.  Really,  I have had no particular complaints about this in the past.  And the creation and participation in the creative process– that is the important element for me.  Selling my artwork is not my FIRST priority.

Actually to tell the whole truth,  I have had a protective attitude towards my silk painting process.  I know all too well that forcing a creative project to become a commercial endeavor has dangers for the creative process.  Simply put, it can suck the life out of it.  Make it stale.  Repetitive.  Not life affirming, but something to dread.

Recently, I’ve realized that there might be an up side to commercial participation.  Yes, money of course.  But beyond that, affirmation.  Approval for works done well.  The freshness that comes from a quickening practice.  Interaction with peers- and learning from those who produce works very well.  All of this seems to contribute to the creative process, not necessarily tear it down.

So this awareness is coming to me at just the right time… I needed some freshness.  Help for a creative process that had become sluggish.

Blistering July morning air dries silk paintings in progress.

All of this is to say- it’s time to pick up the pace.  I’m attempting to raise the production past FOUR.

Has anyone tried this in their own silk painting production?  Or other creative endeavors?  I think there will be a lot of habits that will need to change, and learning that will have to happen.  I’m interested to hear advice from anyone willing to help me on this path!