Well I’m still creating madly for our local show, it’s a week on Saturday, so it’s looming up fast! I’m taking a short break from My Splendid Sampler quilt as it was sort of taking over, I’ve lots of other things more pressing at the moment…
Over the years I’ve had a few dabbles in silk painting, I love it, I like the lightness of it, it’s also really easy! I always think of it as painting for people like me who can’t paint! My mum is a brilliant artist, I can just about manage what I call a distant wishy-washy view!
Silk painting, on the other hand, is like painting by numbers. You can trace your design and then paint it. My first dabble at silk painting was at a WI workshop many years ago, I painted a vase of tulips which I still have framed in the hall. I didn’t do any more for years until I wanted a big picture for our bedroom. I’d made a feature wall by painting it dark purple and it really needed a big painting. I couldn’t find anything I liked at a price I liked, so I decided to paint my own! I found a design in an Burda magasine, had it enlarged at a copy shop and painted it. The background was meant to be plain, but I did it in greens and purples, using silver and gold gutta to outline it, my inspiration being looking through park gates at the flowers. I’m still proud of it.
The outline is made with Gutta which is a resist, meaning the paint won’t cross it, as long as there aren’t any gaps (it will find it if there is!!) I used clear gutta for my scarf as it disappears in the wash. I like using gold and silver but it lies on top of the silk, a bit like icing, which is no good for a silk scarf.
I found the design for this scarf in a book I’ve got called ‘Glass Painter’s and Silk Painters Pattern Book’. The silk scarf came ready edged from Rainbow Silks. First of all I stretched the silk on the frame, this was a birthday present a few years ago, it’s easily adjustable and what I also like is the silk is suspended on long hook-like pins so you can easily paint right up to the edge, as opposed to a wooden frame with drawing pins. These pins would be lethal if you stood on one, but touch wood, I’ve managed to avoid that so far!
I traced the design with pencil on the back, then applied the gutta on the front. It comes in a tube with a fine nozzle, it is a bit like icing a cake, learning to control the speed it comes out at so you end up with a fine line and no blobs ideally. My hands were getting a bit shaky from concentration by the end so some of the lines are decidedly wobbly!
Silk paint spreads instantly, moving ahead of the brush up to the gutta line, so you don’t need to worry about painting a neat edge, the silk paint does it for you. You can also easily merge two colours or more to get a graduated effect. I painted the flowers and the leaves first, if you put too much paint on, it can go over the top of the gutta. One of my leaves did this, you can either add lots of clear water to dilute the colour and dab off what you can, which is what I did here, or you incorporate it into the design. I did a bell pull a couple of years ago, one bit bled and as the background was staying unpainted, trying to wash it our wouldn’t work, so I added some beads to that bit!!
The background has to be painted fairly quickly so I made up lots of paint beforehand. As soon as silk paint dries it forms a line so you can’t work all the way round and back to the start or the join will show. Instead you keep painting both sides so neither dries out! Another effect with silk painting is gained by adding salt crystals, it draws the paint in giving a lovely dappled effect, the only problem is it is totally unpredictable, you can’t plan it, it’s just throw it on and see what happens! I sprinkled salt over the background but it went a bit too streaky, so I painted a wash of green over it all which has nicely muted it.
The paint I use sets with ironing, after that it needs washing to remove all traces of salt. It’s always a bit nerve wracking washing it the first time, there’s always the worry that the iron might have missed a bit!
I’m pleased with my silk scarf, it’s certainly something I’ll wear after the show.