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Prepare Design for Silk Painting

Sketching or tracing a design using the autofade pen and applying gutta or outliner onto silk fabric ready for painting (see how to attach your fabric to a silk painting frame).

You don't need to be good at drawing to paint designs onto silk fabric. Here we show a neat trick for utilising designs found around the house including printed fabrics, wrapping paper, wall paper and even from colouring books! Look for a good bold print which will show through the silk fabric.

We're going to use the butterfly on this printed fabric.

A bold print will show through the silk fabric

You will need to stretch your silk fabric taut and pin it onto a frame (see our album 'Stretch fabric for painting or Batik wax application'). Flip the frame over and lay the silk fabric up close to the image you wish to replicate. Pongee and Habotai silk have enough translucence to allow a bold image to show through.

Place the silk over the design.

Trace the parts of the image you want with the autofade pen. An autofade pen is an essential tool for silk painters, Batik artists, embroiderers, and quilt makers. It is like using a felt tip pen but the ink marks can be removed immediately with water or they can be left to fade completely within 3-4 days.

Use an autofade pen to trace the design

Mistakes are easily rectified. A cotton wool bud, dampened with water, is wiped over the autofade pen mark and the ink quickly dissipates.

The remainder of pen mark will completely fade away within 3-4 days.

Autofade pen marks fade away completely

The design can now be outlined using outliner or gutta. Follow the lines of the tracing ensuring that all loops are joined up and that the outliner has fully penetrated the fabric. When dry, the outliner will make a retaining barrier to keep painted colours within the defined sections.

Outline the design to retain the paint colours

Hold the design up towards the light to ensure all the loops are joined and that the outliner has penetrated the fabric. Using outliner and achieving a fine line takes practice, the outliner has spread slightly as it is absorbed into the finely woven Pongee silk fabric. If this is a problem, paint the fabric with a coat of primer before sketching your design to help control the absorbency. Allow to dry thoroughly before painting.

Check gutta outliner has penetrated the silk fabric

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