The Magic of Salt!

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I thought I’d show how salt features in the work I produce, here both table salt and coarse sea salt have helped to create the pattern of sunflower seeds. It’s exciting when technique and image come together so well.
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The owl design gets the table salt treatment in his quiff.
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The wings of this crane get some feathery textures with table salt.
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Here the use of coarse sea salt  in this background helps to give a sense of movement.
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The owl gets a fluffy feathery effect.
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Table salt can give extra interest and patterns here on the iris petal.
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Table salt giving tiny scale like patterns on this turtle.
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Coarse salt can be applied onto the silk in a controlled line, resulting in a regular pattern appearing to look a bit like  icicles.
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Always apply salt on damp silk, here I’ve drawn a salt spiral.
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The salt has absorbed the dye and produced this effect in about 10mins.
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You can even try placing individual grains in lines or circles .
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After 5/10mins you can see the individual trails of each grain quite clearly.
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Salt , a very common item in every kitchen, yet so fun and magical to use with dyes on silk, giving extraordinary patterns and effects.

 

 

Painting Pansies

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Pansies have a lot of scope for silkpainting , so I bought some recently and set to sketching their shapes and recording colours. I have a love of most things blue and purple so decided to make a scarf design using these colours.

 

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Firstly I traced some pansy flower shapes on to the silk using an auto fade pen.I’m trying crepe de chine silk which I like for it’s weight and drape, but habotai silk works well too for scarf projects.

 

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Next outlining with clear gutta resist on top of the outlines.
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I’m trying a range of steam fix dyes as they will give more intense colours. These are diluted for the background and painted directly on the silk in a random way around the gutta outlines.I used shades of blue/turquoise and purple.
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A few leaks appeared at this stage which were easy to conceal when paining the pansies!
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It’s important to dry the gutta outlines before painting to prevent further leaks.
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These are my steam fix dyes,they come with lots of tempting shades. I usually teach with the iron fix paints as they are easier to fix and do not need the expensive steamer ,(more on that later). I enjoy using these paints as you can build more colours on the silk creating interesting effects , but they do take time to get to know .
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Once the background is dry I started to draw more pansy flowers with the auto fade pen.
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Then applied more clear gutta.
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Quite a lot has happened here, I must have got too absorbed by the painting of these flowers. All the painting of the flower heads was achieved while holding a hair dryer to give the control of the flow of the dyes. These dyes will allow you to build many layers of dyes to give the patterns shown here.
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I felt a few leaves would help fill the spaces, so more outlining with the clear gutta.
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Almost finished, two shades of green to the leaves and green details in the center of the flowers.
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This is the start of the steam fixing. First attach a length of lining paper to a cardboard tube using masking tape. Roll just the lining paper for about half a metre then roll in the silk, allow another half metre rolled after the end of the silk. Seal paper onto tube with masking tape.
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This is my vertical steamer ! It comes in 3 bits ,the smallest is where water goes and is heated by an element in the base. The tall tube houses the cardboard tube and sends the steam around the silk for 2/3 hours. The other tube is an extension which makes steaming wider widths possible.I have found this very useful over the years. It’s an expensive bit of kit to buy new these days ,but essential if you want to use these dyes and plan to do a lot of silk painting.
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Filling the bottom chamber with water.
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Always a tricky moment balancing on my wobbly stool, trying to center the cardboard tube in the steamer and attach the lid. Then switch on and leave to steam for 2hours.
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This shows the steamed silk coming out of it’s paper, always an exciting time. The colours are now fixed and ready to be washed and ironed.
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These dyes have an intensity which I love and the extra weight of the crepe de chine is wonderful to wear as a scarf.

 

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Finally I’m rolling the edge of the silk, picking up a tiny thread of silk here.
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Passing the needle through a small ‘tunnel’ of rolled silk and out to pick up the next tiny thread. I must admit this takes a while and some patience but does give a good finish to the edge of the scarf.
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The finished rolled edge,1 hour later!
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These pansies were painted on habotai silk, the same as we use on the center parcs sessions ,using iron fix dyes. I enjoyed making this version too . Less intense than the steam fix but lots of fun to use and easy to fix with an iron.

 

Silkpainted Sunflower Cushions

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Sunflower silkpainted cushions  I painted and enjoyed quilting  to give extra texture to  the flowers. These were made for my sister who loves sunflowers and I thought it might be interesting to share the process of making them.
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First job is to create a template, I drew out the design onto paper using a bold permanent marker pen which is now ready for tracing onto the silk.
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Trace design onto silk using an auto fade pen. I stretch the silk (habotai 8mm) onto a wooden frame 18”x 18” with these 3 point pins. The silk then can be placed stretched on top of the template and the design can be easily traced through.
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Apply gutta serti resist to provide the barrier for different shades of yellow in the petals. This is the transparent gutta which is water soluble, but you could apply gold gutta here if you wanted  more colourful outlines.
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Gutta outlining complete. Allow to dry naturally or…
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Use a hairdryer to dry the gutta in a about 2mins.
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Using a selection of Pebeo setasilk iron fix paints, I start with concentrate yellow and paint random petals.Then continue mixing different tones of yellow by adding  small amounts of the other warmer paints for the other petals, until I see a good mix of light and darker yellows.I use water with these paints to create the lighter shades.
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The petals are designed to be open and allow the paint to flow towards the center of the flower. This gives a natural feel to the design and a more interesting middle section.
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The center of the flower is achieved by using circles of black/brown /yellow and orange.I use fine salt in the darkest part in the middle,then when all the other circles are finished I use sea salt liberally to give the effect of the seeds. Apply drops of water with a pipette at the base of each petal to achieve this interesting pattern.
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The salt will need time to create it’s patterns so I usually leave it on for as long as possible. Best results happen when darker shades are used and the paint is not too wet before you put the salt on. This effect can really look like the seeds in a sunflower.
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Painting the leaves comes next and I use several shades of greens, often mixing yellow in the lighter green for a more natural tone.
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I tend to paint water on the background first to give a smoother finish . It gives plenty of time to apply the background colour without fear of any dry lines creeping in.
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Background complete, I usually dilute this colour as it is then easier to apply. After leaving this for 24hrs I then iron fix on a cotton setting, soak in warm water and iron damp. Then it’s time to quilt.
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I discovered how to make french knots and couldn’t stop as they seemed just the right thing in this central area. I used a yellow darning cotton and some ochre coloured fine wool for these areas and an off white silk tread for the petals and leaves.
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I chose a cotton fabric for the back of these cushions after some time choosing in a fabric shop! They were sewn up without a zip and are in daily use . I hope to master putting in a zip one day! 

 

 

Making Silk Bunting

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I’ve recently enjoyed making some simple bunting using the ‘demo’ silk squares which I produce during my teaching sessions. I have acquired MANY over the years so lovely to find another use for them.
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Easy to do, just decide what size of template for you bunting, I managed 10 pendants out of 18”x 18” sq .Outline using an auto-fade pen.
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Cut out your bunting ready to sew, I did not sew up edges or back with any fabric.
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Just straight onto the sewing machine with a simple straight stitch on to a ribbon. It’s fast and very satisfying!
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Before long you have captured some interesting patterns by random means and the cheery colours can brighten up a dull day.

 

New Silk Painting Brushes

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A selection of natural wolf and weasel hair brushes that are ideal for silk painting! I love the range of brushes on display and use Leaf Vein No.014 for the more detailed painting. This brush gives a good point and springy feel, good for control in small spaces.

 

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I also like the softer Goat haired brush No. 27 which is useful for painting larger backgrounds.
I have bought the brushes that I use on the course from Guanghwa for many years. They are inexpensive, last extremely well, give a fine point and a good reservoir in the brush , ideal for silkpainting.

I visited them last week at their new address – 112 Shaftesbury Avenue, London

Worth a visit if your in the area or do visit their website www.guanghwa.com

It’s been an owl inspired year!

 

Just some of the many owls created during this years silkpainting at Center Parcs !

I was originally inspired by a tile design from a visit to the V+A Museum in London and found it worked really well as a silkpainting design. It has quite a lot of outlining to do but easy to paint and fun for me to see it reproduced in so many different colour ways. Owls have been a very popular design motif  and I find myself  looking for variations on this theme,  the little Roman Owl coin was found on the internet . Pottery decoration is also worth a look at for birds and animal designs