Forget paper and canvas, have you ever considered painting on silk? With silk you have the ability to customise and create art in a whole new way. Unfortunately it’s not as simple as painting on canvas, silk needs to be prepared properly in order for you to get the most out of your silk artwork. Follow these tips to see how it’s done.
Wash your silk beforehand
Start by gently washing your silk with warm water and a dye reactive detergent to rid the silk of any excess dye. Rinse and dry the silk until it is slightly damp, then press with an iron.
Stencil out your design
Your design will work best if it is made up of enclosed areas, keeping the colour contained. Start by creating a template by drawing your design to scale in pencil on a sheet of paper, then going over it with black marker. Next, lay your piece of silk over the template and carefully draw your deisign on the silk with a pencil.
Suspending and Stretching
At this point you will need to start stretching your silk and suspending it off your work surface, for this you will need a frame. The type of frame will depend on the size of the silk that you have, but generally artist’s canvas stretcher bars work well and are easily found at most art supply shops; or if you’re strapped for cash, you can even cut out a frame from cardboard!
Start stretching your silk onto your chosen frame, securing it with pins every 5 inches or so along the sides. You want to create enough tension in your silk that you can paint on it easily, but not so tight that it tears.
Applying Dyes, Paint and Resist
Start by applying Resist to your design, following the lines and making sure there are no gaps for the dye to seep through; if the silk is particularly thick (heavier than 12mm) then apply resist to the back as well. Wait until the resist is dry and then begin painting. Add your dye or paint sparingly and in the centre of each enclosed space. Don’t let the silk become too saturated but paint wet on wet if you want to avoid lines.
Setting your colour
Once you have finished painting on your design, it’s time to set the colour and make it permanent. The chemicals used are generally available in art supply stores. So check the directions or ask those working there which chemical would be best for your silk and colouring.
There you have it! Once you perfect the method of painting silk, you have the ability to create anything you want. If feel confident enough you can start designing everything and anything, from silk shirts and silk blouses to silk paintings and silk cloths. Just be sure you get some practise before doing these larger pieces. You don’t want to waste silk and expensive dyes.
Featured image: CC – Attribution photo by ellenm1 on Flickr – source
Article by Amy Elliott
Written by A. Elliott; a writer with an interest in art and interior design who occasionally writes for Patra Selections, specialists in silk products such as silk nightwear, silk underwear and silk shirts. You can find out more about them and their products by clicking here.