Silk Painting TechniquesA Silk Painting Tutorial from my August 2009 Newsletter
Silk Painting is definitely one of my favorite classes to teach. It's really easy to do once you know a little about the necessary materials and techniques. It's also a lot of fun!
First, the silk fabric (8mm Habotai China silk scarves with hemmed edges) needs to be stretched on a frame before painting. I use heavy duty stretcher bars that are a little larger than the silk I am stretching and attach the silk with push pins. There are a variety of stretching techniques out there, so you'll just need to find one that works for you.
Once the fabric is taut (like a drum) then slip your design underneath the fabric on top of some magazines so that it is resting against the silk fabric. Using a vanishing fabric marker (often used in quilting), trace your design directly onto the silk.
Next, comes the application of the resist. The resist is essential to "fence in" your design so that the paint doesn't flow outside. It is often referred to as the "Serti Technique" in many silk painting books. There are many resists out there for silk painting, but I prefer to use a thick fabric paint made by Scribbles. The paint is applied directly using a small tip to achieve nice lines. Dry thoroughly with a hair drier before proceeding.
The silk paints I use are made by Dye-Na-Flow and they are wonderful! They are heat set by using an iron once the painting is complete (with silk dyes one has to steam set the paint). I use old watercolor or sumi-e brushes to apply the paint and blend and layer much like watercolor painting.
Once the paint is dry in my main design, I then wet the entire background with water and apply the paint (two or three colors) in an abstract way creating designs, patterns and drips. Next, I use my "secret weapon" to create even more interesting designs - Hawaiian salt. Although, any coarse salt will do including kosher or rock salt. Next, just kick back, relax with a cup of coffee, and wait for the background to dry naturally so the salt has a chance to work it's magic! The salt makes really wonderful designs by attracting or pulling the pigment in the paint across the wet silk.
Next, dry your creation and remove it from the frame. Brush off any extra salt, rinse it in cold water and let the painting dry. To set the paint, just iron on the back with a medium heat iron.
I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. To get some real hands on experience in silk painting, feel free to sign up for a class or two at Painting Paradise!