Silk Paints and their Mediums

Silk paints are made from insoluble dye particles suspended in water and combined with a fixative which is set by ironing the back of the painted fabric. The paint is very fluid and formulated specifically to simulate dye. The brands of silk paint available from the George Weil website include Javana Silk, Deka Silk and Jacquard Dye-na-flow.

Silk paints can be used with a variety of mediums to create differing effects on the fabric.

Outliners & PrimersPrimer

Silk fabric is very absorbent and the fluid paint spreads across the fabric quickly. A primer or anti-spread is used to treat the silk fabric so that the flow of paint is inhibited, allowing free-hand water colour painting techniques. Stretch out the fabric and pin to a frame before applying the primer with a wide brush. Allow to dry before painting.

Gutta Outliner

Outliner has a thicker consistency than paint and is used to create a barrier to prevent dye colours and paints from running into each other while painting on silk. Outliners are available in pipette tubes with applicator tips, or in jars which can be decanted into applicator bottles. Draw out your design with an autofade pen and trace over the lines with the outliner. Make sure the outliner penetrates through to the other side of the fabric and that each of the boundaries are complete i.e. if you are drawing a leaf, the outline should join up so that paint does not leak beyond the outline. Outliners can be clear or come in a range of colours.

Click here to browse our range of primers and outliners.

Painting onto silk

This silk painting, by Katherine Barney, was created using H Dupont silk dyes. The fabric was first painted pink and then the flower outlines were drawn out with a clear gutta outliner. The artist then painted the other colours over the pink base, using the gutta outline to contain the colours.

How to paint onto silk

A butterfly sketched with autofade pen and traced with a clear gutta outliner, note how each of the lines are joined up to prevent the silk paint from spreading beyond the boundaries.

Opaque White

This paint contains a greater concentration of pigment and is used to pick out areas in a painting such as the crest of a wave or a glint of sunshine.


Combine mix-white with silk paints to create pastel shades without loss of hue. The colours are more opaque than those created with thinner or water.

Deka Clear Medium

Paint colours diluted with water become more transparent and because they have been diluted, contain less fixative. The clear medium helps to diffuse these diluted colours and fix them on the silk fabric.

Effects Salt

The large crystals of salt absorb wet silk paint creating interesting patterning on the fabric.


Use water to create transparent shades (see Deka Clear Medium above), drop onto wet paint to make it travel outwards, or to dampen fabric before painting to make the paint spread further.

Silk paint with Effects salt and water

Please visit our Silk Painting section to view all of these amazing products!

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