Painting Pansies 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. 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. Next outlining with clear gutta resist on top of the outlines. 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. A few leaks appeared at this stage which were easy to conceal when paining the pansies! It’s important to dry the gutta outlines before painting to prevent further leaks. 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 . Once the background is dry I started to draw more pansy flowers with the auto fade pen. Then applied more clear gutta. 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. I felt a few leaves would help fill the spaces, so more outlining with the clear gutta. Almost finished, two shades of green to the leaves and green details in the center of the flowers. 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. 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. Filling the bottom chamber with water. 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. 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. These dyes have an intensity which I love and the extra weight of the crepe de chine is wonderful to wear as a scarf. Finally I’m rolling the edge of the silk, picking up a tiny thread of silk here. 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. The finished rolled edge,1 hour later! 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.