Silk Painting

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Silk painting is very similar to painting in water colours. The paints are transparent, water based and intermixable. The main difference is the surface on which you are painting. Silk fabric is super absorbent so when a paint loaded brush is put onto the surface, the paint is very quickly transferred to the silk and immediately begins to spread across the fabric. This allows the silk painter a fluidity and freedom that compares to no other form of painting. The skill is in controlling the application of the paint.

The kits below contain a selection of primary colours which can be mixed to create more colours. Pastels can be created by adding a higher pigmented mix-white, while colours can be made lighter or more transparent by adding water. The intensity of the colour can be increased by painting the same area over in a number of applications. As the paint dries quickly on lightweight fine silk fabric such as Pongee or Habotai, this is worth the extra effort.

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To help inhibit the paint from spreading in such a random manor, the silk fabric can be treated with a primer or anti-spread. This is applied to the silk fabric with a wide brush and allowed to dry. The application of the silk paint is then similar to water colour painting.

Another method of controlling the movement of the paint is to use an outliner. The outliner is a thick lining paint which is normally applied through a fine nib to create a closed border around elements of the design (think of a colouring book!). The lines from the outliner soak through the silk fabric and when dry create a barrier for the paint. The paint will not bleed beyond the outline, provided that the outline has no breaks and the brush is not overloaded.

Silk paints have been formulated to emulate dyes but as they contain an acrylic binder they may stiffen the surface of the fabric very slightly. This will affect the drape of the fabric. It is therefore recommend that silk dyes are used when the drape of the fabric is important.

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