Monday, January 16, 2012

Silk Painting - Class 2

If you've gathered your silk painting materials, today you're ready to paint your first scarf! A quick review of Class 1 before you start is a good idea, to make sure you have everything you need.  And you'll need to do a couple of things before you begin: 1) have some images of snowflakes - I went to Google images, copied some I liked, and printed the sheet out so I could refer to it later, and 2) prewash a scarf (see Class 1 for what to use), air dry it, and iron the wrinkles out.  It'll probably have a tag on it - take it off, usually there are just a couple of stitches holding it on that a seam ripper makes short work of.  If you're giving this as a gift, you might want to sew it back on when you're finished so the person will know it's silk.

Stretching your silk:
Silk is painted on a frame that holds it up off the surface.  Before you begin painting, you need to stretch it on this frame.  

1.  Find a large flat surface that your frame will fit on and cover it with plastic (you can buy large rolls at hardware/home improvement stores).  Put your frame on top of the plastic and lay your scarf in the center of the frame with the right side facing up.  To find the right side, look at the hemming on the edge.

2.  This is a suspension hook - watch out, they're very sharp!  They come with the prongs turned at a right angle.  I bend the prongs slightly in so they hold the silk better - just a little bit, though, or they'll break.

3.  The prongs are put at the very edge of your silk if it's hemmed or about 1/4 inch in if it's not hemmed.

4.  Starting at one corner, hook a suspension hook on each edge.  Attach the hook to the frame with push pins.  If you can't make the hook reach the frame without distorting the fabric, cut a piece of elastic, loop it through the hook, staple the elastic to hold it in place, and then use a push pin to attach the elastic to the frame.  After you attach the scarf at one corner, attach the other three corners.

5.  Next, attach hooks in the middle of each side of the scarf and attach to hooks to the frame.

6.  Now attach hooks halfway in between the hooks already in the scarf and attach the hooks to the frame.

7.  Your scarf should now look like this - stretched, but not distorted and tight enough that the scarf is taut.  You don't want it sagging when it gets wet.

Now you're ready to apply the gutta.  Gutta acts as a resist - when it's dry, it won't let the silk paint seep through.

Take a bottle of clear gutta and take off the lid.  Cut the tip off the point (there's a line to show you where - I usually go a little above this line to give a smaller hole).  Update:  I just got new bottles of gutta and they already have a hole in the applicator tip.  In this case, you only want to cut more of the tip off if you want a bigger line!

Unscrew the tip and use a push pin to punch through the foil covering the top.  Replace the tip.

Using your examples, draw snowflakes on your silk with the gutta.  Just freehand it - don't worry if they're wobbly or smeary.  They'll still look nice and you're just learning how to control the gutta applicator!

Continue until your scarf is covered with snowflakes, then add dots of gutta in the empty spaces.  Let dry completely.

We're going to be painting this scarf with diluted paint.  Find three containers that won't be used for food and add a few good squirts of paint - blue, turquoise, and blue mixed with violet.  Add about 3 or 4 tablespoons of water, until it's about the transparency of the paint I've tested on the newspaper below.  Don't worry about getting it exact - this is not crucial!

Before I begin painting, I like to set my frame on egg cartons to get it up away from the plastic.  Why egg cartons?  It doesn't matter if I get paint on them and they're free!

2.  Using a wide foam brush, begin applying the diluted paint.

Switch off to other colors frequently ...

... until the entire scarf is covered.  Notice how the edges where the colors meet have a line?  For this project, that's fine - it's part of the swirly, snowy look.  But remember this - we'll address it in future classes!

Leave your scarf on the frame until it is completely dry and then remove.  Iron to heat set the paint - I use the cotton setting and iron (on the wrong side) an area about a foot square for 4 minutes, then move onto another area, continuing until the entire scarf has been set.  Keep the iron moving to avoid scorches! 

After heat setting, let it sit for a day or two and then wash in cold water with one of the okay soaps - and make sure it is cold water!  If you use warm, the gutta will gum up and be very hard to remove.  With cold water, about 5 minutes of gentle swishing and a little rubbing on stubborn spots will get the gutta out.

Air dry, iron, and you have your first scarf!

If snowflakes aren't your cup of tea, you can make this with any type of motif for the background - hearts, loopy flowers, anything with simple lines.

Next week we'll do some color mixing on another scarf.
Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. this is awesome my friend!
    If you sprinkle some salt over it when its wet, & then after getting dry you will see amazing texture..I Love salt effect on silk paints..I hope you have tried this technique too..

    1. Yes! I realized after I'd finished this that the salt technique would look good on this scarf. We'll be covering it in a later scarf, but if anyone wants to try it now, while the scarf is still wet with paint, sprinkle on coarse kosher or canning salt. Let sit until dry and then brush it off.