Silk dyes, cold wax and wallpaper paste

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's been quite a few years since I've used gutta on silk to draw designs, and I do miss the drawing - but I don't miss the gutta (and removal thereof) :-)

I decided to have a bit of a play with two products to see how effective they are to block areas of the silk, and to see how they interact with the dyes and fabric markers.

Might as well make this as interesting as possible, so instead of mixing up new dyes with my fiber-reactive dye powder, I thought I'd resurrect some colours I used last year some time - at least 6 months ago (yes, I know they're not SUPPOSED to work, but let's have an adventure, shall we?).

I have sketched a small design for this test of my dyes with cold wax. The theme is hot air balloons, and a quick search online showed me that the first one was made in France with silk - what an amazing adventure that must have been!

So to tie my love of France, silk and painting together, I'll paint a French girl/woman with a hot air balloon in the background -- on silk charmeuse.


Above: First sketch in pencil on A4/letter size paper

The COLD WAX I use I bought in France last year when I was at the silk painting festival in Chambon-sur-Lignon, and it's thicker than milk, but only just, so it's easy to paint with. The cold wax washes out in water.

OK - I forgot to take photos of the next bit :-(
so you'll have to use your imagination a bit.

Above: I taped the pencil sketch to the back of the stretched silk, then drew the design onto the silk with a thick black texta pen / marker.
I outlined some of the areas with cold wax, a product I've been playing with over the past year. You can see it clearly outside the black frame of the main sketch above.
I started to paint the colours, testing the effectiveness of the wax, as well as experimenting with marker on wax, and marker on its own.

Above: In this photo close-up you can see where the orange dye has migrated into the chin - an unexpected problem which I will leave. This happened because I didn't use any wax or resist at the bottom curve of the face.

For the skin tone I added one drop of pink dye to a small amount of water and brushed in the cheeks. After adding more water, I could then paint the softer pink skin.

The blue air/steam in the bottom left was achieved by painting the wax around the black marker outline. There were a few brush stroke curves of wax within the steam as well, then I painted the blue. With a small brush dipped in water I embellished the blue of the steam and it merged quite nicely.

With a relatively dry brush, I drew a few spirals onto the orange coat in purple.

The beret had been outlined in wax, so I started to paint with purple dye - below.

Above: the beret and balloon are finished.
Hmm - not sure whether to paint the entire background.

Above: While deciding on the background inside the main frame, I painted the outside of the frame with purple dye. You can see where the dye has reached the wax border on the right hand side of the photo.

Above: To get rid of the wax outline on the border, I simply painted the purple dye on top of the wax.

I decided not to add any more colours, so this is the finished project. Now it needs to have the dyes set, the wax removed and then washed.

1. Fixing the silk dye colours

I simply rolled the silk in black plastic and left overnight. That's it - nothing else.

2. Removing the wax

When I purchased the Cold Wax, I also purchased the Wax Out - a great little product! Simply add one tablespoon to 2 litres of hotwater, soak for 10 minutes, then wash. Full instructions are on the bottle:

Above: Batik Wax Out and Batik Cold Wax

Washing and drying the handpainted silk

While the silk was still wet, I rolled it in a dark garbage bag (trash can liner) and left it overnight. The fiber-reactive dyes will continue to work on the silk until they are dry.

The next morning I unwrapped the plastic and the silk had dried, so I handwashed it several times with a mild soap until all the excess dye ran out.

No, I didn't steam it, and no, I didn't iron-set it. I simply washed and dried it, then ironed while ever-so-slightly damp.

Fiber-reactive dyes for handpainted silk

I used fibre-reactive dyes which I had mixed up about 6 months ago. The instructions say the dye lasts a couple of weeks, but I wanted to experiment and see what happened.

After washing, the colours became less vibrant, softer, muted - very pretty in fact. Not my usual outrageous colours but attractive nonetheless ... see for yourself:

Above: Finished, washed, dried, ironed etc.
I quite like the way the black marker pen edged/merged into the waxy outline in the bottom left corner, and how the wax around the black border took on a life of its own. Makes it really interesting! This was after all an experiment, to see how each of these products acted and re-acted to and with each other.
The 'hand' of the silk is still very smooth and there is no residue from the cold wax.
I'm happy with what I've discovered on this little adventure!

If you'd like to make a Comment, please click the link below - I'd love to hear from you.

To read Project 2 with step-by-step photos, click here.

SILK ADVENTURE in Paris 2008
(YES! THAT Paris!)

In June this year I'll be teaching silk painting in Paris - it's a real adventure with visits to the silk and paint suppliers, textile museums, silk painting classes and much much more! Read more about it here:

I hope you enjoyed this little adventure with me.


Click COMMENTS below to send a message : View the SILK PAINTING VIDEOS shown below.


Nola 7:41 PM  

What an interesting outcome! I quite like the muted colours. The Cold Wax method sounds much more achievable for the person who wants to play occasionally (like me). Thanks for sharing.

Vani Pippalla Akula 2:50 AM  

Hi Teena,
I'm a member of the silk painters on yahoo and followed u here. Cool blog. I like the idea of wallpaper paste.
I have a painting blog too though not on silk paints.

Abfab Art Studio 1:15 PM  

Hi Nola,

Yes the cold wax felt a lot more 'do-able' for a newbie without too much to learn or understand.

The gelatinous wallpaper paste technique could be harnessed - I'm sure I could do a few experiments and find the perfect combo of water and powder to make a paste of a consistency I liked, just need to spend a bit more time on it.

Hey Vani - I just posted on your blog.

When I do new experiments with the wallpaper paste I'll post them on the blog.

Thanks for visiting!


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