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looking for silkpainters

gloriapace | Posted in General Discussion on

I would love to hear from anyone who does silkpainting or fabric dying.  I love playing with color and use ombred effects on silk, then add embroidery.  But I would like to do more than just that.  Does anyone do the serti technique, or sun dying.  I have read several books on techniques but am leery to try them  Some discussion would be nice.   gloria


  1. Guest | | #1

    I have been painting on silk for about a year.  originally began with decacolor and they stopped making products, I switched to setasilk.

    I only use heat set dyes because I am not set up for the large and expensive steamer required, of course the colors would be more brilliant. so far I am having a great time. what are you doing? making?

    1. gloriapace | | #2

      Well, my best project was using Procion dye.  It wasn't really painting but putting silk on a frame and using a big brush painting from pale yellow to deep yellow to coral.   Then I used salt and it turned out beautiful as a pant outfit with the top being a tunic.  I then embroidered it diagonally across the tunic with dogwood blooms using a designer I sewing machine.  Embroidery was also done on each side pant leg.  I have done few other projects that  I actually like.   Most of everything ends up on the garbage.

      Another silk painter that I converse with online told me I was being too controlling.  So today I took a piece of Kona cotton, taped on a foam board and used  violet, green and coral.  Wet, it looked fine, so I put some salt on it and it dried awful.  The salt made it look like tiny comets all over the place.   And the colors dried pale.  What did I do wrong?  Perhaps I am using too little paint and too much water.  I tend to be selfish with the paint since I bought only 2 oz bottles.  I was following instructions from the book Sky Dyes plus my idea of using salt.  The paint is Setacolor by pebeo.  I mixed half water, half paint and sprayed the cotton lightly.

      I have attempted using the serti technique, painting butterflies and tulips.  But I make a mess out of gutta and the paint always finds escape routes that the human eye can never detect.  Is there some kind of secret to this?

      I know I can do this, I used to be a fairly good watercolorist, and I am a great copy artist.  I found books of patterns to draw using patterns for stained glass projects. 

      Do you have any pointers for a frustrated, and sometimes angry painter.  What brands have you tried?  Have you used stencils, sponges, and spray bottles.  Where the heck do you buy spray bottles that don't leak allover your cloth while you spray?  Have you tried sun-painting?  I did and my leaves blew away before I got them all down.  Is it possible to just paint flowers or do you have to use gutta?

      What is the great gutta secret and how do you get a green dye stain out of a white Berber carpet

      Love to hear from you, Diane.     Gloria

      1. Guest | | #3

        I bought a product called Stop  flow primer. you paint it all over the fabric and let it dry, then when you paint with the color it keeps it's lines pretty well.

        I never use salt because I don't like the "comet" effect you mentioned. Your oranges embroidered with dogwood sounds wonderful. could you take a photo of it?

        are the procian dyes are steam set or iron set?

        As for colors I rarely dilute my colors, i like them intense, when I mix a shade I mix alot and keep it in a jar, I should probably write the proportions down so i can replicate the color...sigh

        as for the bleeds, I think you have to learn to live with some of them, like batik or raku, it is an imprecious art and you have to learn to turn an accident into a new pattern. what helps me the most is to use a very fine tipped metal point when I apply the gutta, pressing well into the fabric. and then I must be very patient and let it dry over night. I hold the fabric up to the light and look for areas where it did not get through. You said you use a foam board. Please explain. I am using a large frame with suspension pins and rubber bands to keep the fabric taught. setting up the cloth almost takes as much time as the painting.

         I have not worked on cottons yet, Have you tried linen?

        1. carolfresia | | #4

          Gloria and Diane, we'd love to see photos of your experiments. If you can post them, please do (email me or our systems operator for help if you need it). Also, don't through those "goof" in the trash! There are so many uses for them, even if they're small. E.g., check out Kayla Kennington's article on abstract fabric collage in Threads No. 92. You might be able to use unwanted scraps to make an accessory that will coordinate beautifully with the garments you make from the successful yardage.

          Have fun!


          1. quilterqueen | | #5

            Hiya Ladies!! :)

            You are in trouble now!!  Or, maybe I am!!!  LOL  Following your post has got me very curious!!  I just finished my quilting class for the semester and (besides needing to finish a few ??? projects) I am itching to try new projects.  I think I would love to try my hand at silkpainting.  (In fact, we are going to be working on a "Memory Crazy Quilt" next semester, wouldn't it be fun to bring in some of "my own creations"??)  Are there any books that are good for beginners?  Has anyone ever tried this with Children?  My kids love to play with watercolors and water washes. 

            You make it all sound like so much fun!!  I think I'd really like to give it a try.  Where is the best way to get started?  Can someone give a suggestion list for a few beginner supplies and what is the best dye for beginners, etc.  I'd really appreciate your comments.. 

            Have a great weekend!!!


          2. Guest | | #6

            I recommend the books:

            Silk Painting by Susan Moyer

            Beginner's Guide to Silk Painting by Mandy Southan

            Silk Painting by Diane Tuckman

            Beginning supplies... hmmm.... pick the dyes you want. Dharma Trading online sells them. then brushes, water soluble gutta resist, a stretcher frame and non rusting silk pins or tacks.  and lots of small containers with covers to hold your dyes.The dye STAINS... so cover everything. you also might want q-tips, spray bottle, alcohol, and salt for special effects. the books describe them in better detail.

            Wash and dry your fabric before working. Draw designs with a water soluable pen and start having fun.

          3. Guest | | #7

            oops and I forgot, you asked what dyes are best..... I think for a beginner you want pre-mixed dyes that are heat set with an iron and water based guttas. otherwise you'll need special equipment and SERIOUS ventilation.

          4. quilterqueen | | #8

            Thank you, Diane!

            I am going to the library tomorrow.  I think I will check out these books and take a look.  I have been surfing around and looking at different sites and while they are absolutely beautiful, this looks like it may be a little more than I can bite off right now, with three little ones.   I don't have a seperate work area and so would have to use my kitchen table and sometimes it is hard to find enough space to just quilt let alone play with "stainables"!!!!  :D ......  maybe I will rent my own little studio.....  <sigh> one of these days.....  LOL (yeah right!!!)

            Thanks for the book references,  I will take a look!  Maybe I will find a kit that I can just sneak in and try and see if I really really can't live without it.....  It does sound like SO MUCH FUN!!!


          5. gloriapace | | #10

            Here's how I got started--somehow I came across the website for Dharma.com, and got really excited==especially when I saw the artists work on it.  I knew I could do it, so I sent for their catalog which is a wealth of information.  It has kits that kids can do and it explains every tool, every paint and every thing you need to know to get sucked in.  Then there is a whole section in the catalog  of clothing blanks, lots for kids, that you can paint, dye, etc.  You can buy yardage from them at really great prices.  Their catalog is easy to understand and even humorous.  They also offer several books and describe each one.  I often buy books from them and also go to Amazon to get more information on the book.  Anne Johnson has a book called Color by Accident and it is full of really easy projects you can try to dye fabric ideal for quilters who work with color gradations. 

            I got some core board that yardage is wrapped around free from the fabric store and ducktaped them together then pasted on contact paper. I   masking taped the fabric down to the board.   I used kona cotton fabric, sprayed it lightly with water, added a tiny bit of water to my paint and just painted away, making color blended fabric about one yard long to use for peicework.  I've tried sponges, stencils, and spraying paint.  However, it does chew up paint and that can be expensive.  There are scarves available from Dharma that already have the design drawn on with gutta and you just paint it.  You must however, stretch the fabric on a frame.  I bought the frame from Dharma  but you can improvise with whatever. 

            As for space Ive done it outside on the deck, inside on the dining room table,  On my fabric cutting table, and using buckets on the bedroom floor (on some old rugs, of course).  I find it takes little space and clean-up is a breeze.  Now if I could only produce a painting that I am really proud of.     gloria

          6. ReneeParrill | | #14

            I love Dharma. I just recently started dyeing things and now I can't stop. My latest project has been a poplar bench I built. I dyed the legs to match my fabric since the catalog says procion dyes will dye any natural fiber, including wood. They were right.

            I chose a cotton duck to upholster it in, which has worked out really well. I pieced the top like a quilt in really bright colors that my mother-in-law hates. I used a fantastic bright spring green, fire red and purple to create a sun like design. After I built the bench frame, I webbed it up and tied springs in it, so it is durable as well ( I upholster furniture for a living). So now I'm so excited, I want to dye more furniture.

        2. gloriapace | | #12

          Thanks for the stop=flow suggestion.  I went right to my Dharma catalog and ordered it.  I always thought that using resists were the only way.  Oh, much better results have happened with salt on silk or rayon.  I think the cotton is not good for that.   gloria

      2. sarahkayla | | #13

        Dear gloria -

        I have rescued many many a piece by overdying it. I have toned down color that comes out too harsh, i have livened up color that was too dull. Someof my most sucessful project that i went back to after I had thought they were too awful to use. I have also been sucessful using markers or acrylic to do additonal designs over the not wonderful dye job. You can add a stripe with a wide brush -or add another subtle or not so suble design element.

        You can always leave your disaster for a few monbths before you get back to it. I can't tell you how often the pieces that my clients drool over the most, are items that at one point in their lives were truly awful. I think that that struggle with imperfection is what can turn a piece from being merely pretty into being art. Many of the colorfield artists come to those simple serene canvasses, after a struggle. If you look closely at the sruface of the canvas you will see layers of paint, with areas painted over and wresteled with until it works.

        perfection is for the machine made.

        i tend to use fairly diluted dyes - that way , i can layer the colors and get more interesting effects. i hate the colors right out of the jar. i find that they are both harsh and predictable ( you see them at every craft show). I always mix my colors - tweaking them, until they make me happy. i never stretch my silk - i prefer to use the natural physical properties of both the silk and the dyes to create pattern.

        don't aim for perfection - the silk absorbs very differently than paper - when you start out - don't have too fixed an idea of your final outcome... painting on silk is just a joy. I do it whenever i get stuck on another project. i do it whenever i get depressed - don't worry too much about doing it properly... just play.


  2. sissorhappy | | #9

    This is what I love.  The smell of the steam that rises from the iron. Sometimes the steam smells like fresh air, if the fabric hung on the line.  Sometimes it smells like fabric softener.  The feel of the fabric, the sheen and the nap of corduroy, the spongy softness of a chunk of cotton fleece, the slippery escape of rayon. The colours, butter yellow, ice blue,  sage green - colours I can almost taste!

    Then I love the tools.  Sharp sissors that efficiently cut just like they should.  Disappearing markers.   My Bernina! Once it broke down, and I had to drop everything and go straight to town to the repair guy.  I breathlessly explained the problem, almost like a mother explaining their child's symptoms to a doctor! He fixed it pronto to my great relief.

    Rows of bobbins in all the colours, waiting for me.  Buttons that are a perfect surprise.   Old tattered patterns that never disappoint.  New patterns that intrigue and tempt me.  Little containers with sewing trinkets I may never use, but love to open, spill out and ponder. Snaps that match. Fabric and trim combinations that sing.

    Kids that are skeptical at first and then they say "cool!" when they see what I've made them. Seeing the garment go from brand new to thread bare, never needing a seam repaired, well loved and then  finally, used for a rag. So practical, so rewarding.

    1. gloriapace | | #11

      Uhhh,  I think they call this "addiction".  Have you ever heard of stalkers, well I stalk fabric stores.  I go on the internet to a list of favorites all involving fabric.  I buy from catalog sources, internet sources and mail sources and, get this, ebay.  I have found wonderful upholstering fabric thru ebay.   Someone in N.C. auctions yards of the most beautiful upholstery fabric, someone else offers ultra suede, and ultra leather.  There are days I get nothing done because I am bidding away, and planning projects in my mind that I will never have enough time to bring to fruition.  Oh I understand you well, and maybe we both need help.    gloria

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