Silk dyes, cold wax and wallpaper paste #2

Saturday, March 01, 2008

To view Project #1 blogger page, click here.


Above: For this project I wanted to experiment with wallpaper paste as a thickener for silk dyes. The wallpaper paste is the little yellow packet shown above, I bought it at the hardware store for about $3.00. I first mixed up about a quarter of a teaspoon of wallpaper paste in a plastic cup. Once stirred it became thick and gelatinous.

In an icecube tray I added about a teaspoon of this mixture into one icecube, then dropped on one drop of pink silk dye.

I decided to use my Frenchgirl, change her hair, and leave the balloon out.

I started the painting by outlining the face, hair and beret with clear (white) cold wax.

When I tried the first colour, it was weird to paint with this thick gluggy substance. It was lumpy and didn't look good at all. I mixed up a couple of other colours and tried those out. What I ended up with was the silk shown below.

When the thickened dye mix was brushed onto the silk, it was like painting with something akin to baby food, I guess - rather an unusual experience :-)

At this point I really didn't expect to end up with a silk painting worth keeping.

Above: Well this certainly doesn't look very attractive, does it?

The poor Frenchgirl looks like she's been left in the sun too long!

Her pink face is blotchy and thick and very weird, don't you think?

On the blue dye used for the coat, I added swirls of purple while the dye was still wet, so they merged nicely together.

I left the silk to dry.

Above: When the silk was dry - and it didn't take too long - I used the black marker to outline the whole painting. I've always loved this look. Ahhhhh now she's looking a lot better than before :-)

Above: Here you can see my original sketch and the current silk painting side-by-side.

Above: You can see the icecube tray with the coloured dyes mixed in.

The silk is still stretched taut as there wasn't enough wet dye to weigh it down.

Above: I painted a cold wax outline outside the black border with a normal sized paintbrush; you can see thinner wax lines on the shoulder in the left bottom corner where I used a thin paintbrush.

Main Background: When the cold wax dried I painted the purple background - there was no paste in this dye, and it spread across the silk beautifully. In the photo above the purple background is DARK because the silk dye is still wet. The purple of the beret is exactly the same, except it is mixed with wallpaper paste and has dried to a lighter shade.

Inner Background: Next I painted the pink background - again, there was no paste mixed with the pink dye, and it flowed easily on the silk habotai.

Setting the colours

While the silk background 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.

Removing the wax

When I purchased the Cold Wax, I also purchased the Wax Out - a great little product! After the colours are 'fixed', simply add one tablespoon to 2 litres of hotwater, soak for 10 minutes, then wash. (Full instructions are on the bottle.) 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.

Now I really don't like to admit this, but I forgot to photograph the end result BEFORE I wrapped it and sent it off in the post :-(

I will however insert the final photo from Experiment #1, to show you how the purple, orange and blue became rather muted, faded if you like, but still quite pretty:

This was a lot of fun, it's soooooo important to experiment and document what you did, whether it's with photos, a blog, or a notebook.

Ciao for now,


Lisa Walton 5:18 PM  

Really interesting Teena - thanks for sharing and I am really jealous of your Paris teaching.

Abfab Art Studio 4:02 PM  

Glad you enjoyed this Lisa! There are lots of other cool things in this blog - feel free to browse :-)


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