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Prepare Design for Silk Painting

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 used the butterfly on this printed fabric. Pongee and Habotai silk have enough translucence to allow a clear image like this to show through.

Tracing a design onto silk

Transferring the Design to Silk

  1. Stretch your silk fabric taut and pin it onto a frame (see how to attach fabric to a silk painting frame).
  2. Flip the frame over and lay the silk fabric flat against the image you wish to replicate.How transparent is silk
  3. Trace the parts of the image you want with the auto-fade pen. An auto-fade 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.Tracing a design onto silk
  4. Mistakes are easily rectified. A cotton wool bud, dampened with water, is wiped over the auto-fade pen mark and the ink quickly dissipates. The remainder of pen marks will completely fade away within 3-4 days.

Use a cotton wool bud to erase errors

Using the Outliner

  1. 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.Using gutta outliner
  2. Hold the design up towards the light. Look through to ensure all the loops are joined and that the outliner has penetrated the fabric. Using outliner and achieving a fine line on finely woven Pongee silk fabric takes practice. Painting the fabric with a coat of primer before sketching your design will help control the absorbency.Check your design before adding dyes and paints
  3. Allow the outliner to dry thoroughly before painting.

You can see our attempts at painting the butterfly here


Please browse our Silk Painting section of the website to find out more about these products.

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