Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Steps

A lot of people ask me how I go from a blank silk scarf to the finished product. I explain this process here.

First the silk is washed to remove any remaining residue that might interfere with the dye. Next, the silk is stretched on a frame. Rubber bands and hooks hold the silk taut. Next, I plan the painting, sketching directly on the silk using a special fading pen. I apply a water-based resist to the parts of the painting that will be white (see picture above). The resist forms a border which keeps the dye from spreading into the next area.

The next step is beginning to apply the dye. First the lightest colors and the foreground colors are applied (see illustration on right). Other considerations are how the colors will blend with the next colors planned in a given area. In the example you can see the shapes starting to form.

The process of adding dye and drawing with resist is repeated until the entire design is complete. Sometimes the dye breaks through the border and the results are incorporated into the painting (I call these happy accidents). After the silk dries more color may be added for additional depth. The background is painted in last and is kept wet for an even finish.

Here you see the almost complete piece. The lines are dried resist. The scarf is then steam set for about 2 hours. The resist is rinsed out with hot water. Textile detergent is added in the final rinse to stop the dye from bleeding. Highlighting with metallic paints is the final step. The piece is then ironed to set the paints.

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