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A Beginner's Silk Painting

This is my attempt at silk painting, and I can't wait to have another go! Although I know a little about the techniques, I have never really put them into practice, until now. I hope this post helps you to get started.

Tools and Materials for Silk Painting

Before you can start, you will need a silk painting frame and pins, a good quality brush, a length of silk fabric or scarf, an autofade pen, at least 3 colours of silk paint and a gutta outliner. See below for how this design was achieved.

Different Silk Painting Techniques

Preparing the Design on the Silk Fabric

  1. Pin the silk to the frame, see getting started with Silk Painting
  2. Using an autofade pen, sketch out your design. The ink from the autofade pen will wash away with the wet paint, or fade completely within 24 hours. Keep the shapes simple and bold. If you make a mistake you can use a little clean water on your brush to wash the pen mark away.

Applying the Gutta Outliner

  1. Trace along the outlines of the design with a gutta outliner (I have used pearlised brown coloured Javana from a 20ml pipette). The outliner will sink through the surface of the fabric to form a barrier. Remember to close all 'loops' to stop the paint from escaping beyond the boundaries.
  2. Squeeze the tube gently until some of the outliner starts to come out of the nib, wipe away any excess. Try to be confident, it doesn't matter if the outliner does not follow the design exactly. Example e) in the picture above shows a mistake I made in my first efforts, the image c) shows how quickly I was able to improve!
  3. Ensure that the outliner is fully dry before starting to paint.

Painting the Flowers

  1. I painted the purple flowers first (using Deka Silk paints). In hindsight, I would have diluted the colour slightly with water first, then I could have built up the colour in stages. When the paint was dry I added paint to the centres with a fully loaded brush. If you rest the tip of your brush in one place the paint quickly soaks outwards, and up to the edge of the gutta outline.
  2. With the white and blue flowers, I first painted the petals with clean water to make the fabric damp. I then loaded the brush and touched the fabric at the centre of the flowers. The paint is drawn across the fabric by the water to create the fade effect shown in images c) and d). Image b) shows where I left the fabric to dry out too much before painting the edge of the petal, this could have been rectified by painting the edge of it with clean water.
  3. The red and yellow flowers have been painted in the same way as the blue and white flowers. I first painted in the red and allowed it to dry before painting the remainder of the petals in yellow.

Painting the Background

The most difficult area to paint was the green background. You have to work fast to ensure the paint doesn't start to dry as this will leave marks, see image d). I tried to disguise these by sprinkling table salt onto the wet paint. This created delightful patterning as in image a) but was not quite so effective where the paint had begun to dry. I suspect that painting the background with clean water first and then painting with the green would have given me a more satisfying result, back to the drawing board - or frame in this case!

by Allison Holland

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