Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

Colour Therapy: wearing orange clothes

If you were to look in your wardrobe right now, would you be able to find any items of clothing that are orange? It tends to be one of those colours that you either avoid like the plague or adore and splurge out on.

But what does wearing the colour orange actually signal to other people?

Well, it’s definitely one of my favourites and always has been. It’s the artists’ colour, an  outward expression of creativity and  joy.  So if you want to increase that feel-good factor, then orange is the way to go. Unlike red which can overstimulate, orange is both warming and attractive without having the searing touch.

When you are interacting with others, orange can lift the mood in the room and stimulate the conversation in a positive way.  However, it may be wise to avoid wearing predominantly this colour if you are aiming to make  a serious and reliable impression so limiting your use of it to just an accent,  a scarf of belt,  could have the desired effect.

Orange also indicates to others that you feel good in your skin and like the way your body looks. It exudes a lovely relaxed energy while still having that sexy feel to it. And I’m sure you’ve noticed that a vibrant hue can have a really knock-out effect while the more pastel shades can come and go without taking the room by storm. But no matter what shade you choose, it will definitely not go unnoticed.

The complementary colour for orange is blue, so you might like to try experimenting with different shades to compliment your over-all look if your outifit is predominantly orange. A lapis-lazuli necklace, a sky-blue scarf. Be brave and have a go.

So if you want to give your confidence a boost, why not treat yourself to something stunning in orange and enjoy being the centre of attraction.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | COLOURS | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Free Mandala Templates for Silk Painting

Those of you who read my December newsletter will know already. I’m starting a new series of free mandala templates for silk painting.

Just subscribe to the Silk & Art Newsletter and I will send you by return the latest edition which contains the first free template. And with each consecutive newsletter I will be giving you a further mandala design to download absolutely free to colour or paint.

And it gets better. I am inviting you to paint it any way you like, take a photo and send me the file. I will then be publishing all your entries on my website for everyone else to enjoy.

And…..two entries each month will receive a small prize. A gift voucher towards the purchase of a pack of mandala greeting cards and the other one towards the purchase of a larger silk product.

So if you haven’t received the Silk & Art Newsletter yet, follow this link to subscribe now and take part. I look forward to hearing from you and sharing your artwork.

Happy New Year!!!!

December 31, 2009 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silk Painting Workshop Dates

Here are the details of the different types of workshops that I offer:


Introduction to Silk Painting

Date: Saturdays – date to be fixed: please contact me on if interested

Start: 10am until 4pm

Cost: £55.00  including materials

As the space only allows for 4 participants per workshop at present, I will create an event around 4 people who register.

I will be teaching some basic techniques and we will work with simple templates to create a beautifully vivid silk painting.


…And for those of you who would like a bit of a creative challenge I am offering this workshop:

Create Your Personal Mandala on Silk

Date:  Saturdays – please contact me at if you are interested in taking part in one of these events

Time: 10am – 4pm (approx.)

Cost: £55.00 incl. materials

I will only be teaching 4 participants at one time in this event. In the event of extra applicants, I will be offering an alternative date.

In this workshop we will be discussing the concept of mandalas and creating our personal image as a powerful focal point for meditation or simply as a beautiful adornment of your living space.


Make Your Own Silk Scarf

Please follow this link for all the details.


Stage Your Own Silk Scarf Party

I am now available to be hired out for silk painting parties. Invite a handful of friends and have fun creating your own designer silk scarf which we will microwave and then you’re ready to go. As easy as that and lots of fun. Please contact me for more details.


Individual Silk Painting Tuition

You can come to me to have individual tuition and learn the basic skills of silk painting. We will explore the use of colour, resist, salt technique and more. You will create your own work of art to take home and enjoy.

One full day from 10am – 4pm (approx.): cost including materials and lunch is £210.00

Two full days from 10am – 4pm (approx.): cost including materials and lunch is £395.00

Please contact me at if you are interested in registering and we can discuss all further details.


To register for any of these workshops, please apply to:

I look forward to working with you.

December 26, 2009 Posted by | MANDALA ART | , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Dry Gutta Quickly When Silk Painting

If you’ve ever created a silk painting using the resist technique, applying gutta, then you’ll know that it is very difficult to get it to dry quickly. That is, if you are using water-based gutta. So we’re going to look at one or two ways of speeding up the process so that you can on with applying your colourful silk dyes.

There is one point I would like to make clear here before we go any further. There are two main types of gutta. One is solvent based and this type dries almost instantaneously which means you can apply your dyes straight away. I never use these guttas for two reasons. Firstly I don’t consider healthy to be inhaling the fumes from them. And secondly, I have to run off to the drycleaners to totally remove them from my silk artwork. This is both time-consuming and expensive. The second type is water-based and technically isn’t gutta at all, but “resist”. But for the purposes of this article we will be using the word gutta to refer to them both.

So, I use water-based guttas which unfortunately don’t dry immediately. However, when you know this, there are some things you can do to make sure your gutta dries quickly.

I would recommend that you get yourself a set of those small plastic bottles which can sit comfortably in your hand as if you were holding a thick pen. You can buy them from most craft shops that sell silk painting materials. Or you can order them online from any website selling them. You can then pop a fine nozzle onto the end of the nib which will ensure that the lines you draw are not overly thick. The nozzles come in different sizes. I use 0.5mm and find this thickness works very well. These thinner lines dry quite quickly at room temperature. If you use any tubes you can buy over the counter, the disadvantage is that the gutta can bloop out with air bubbles and this is going to make an awful mess of your work. Also, the lines are going to be so thick that you’ll really have to wait until the next day before you can start painting. I’ve seen some tubes create the effect of an iced cake.

When I do workshops I always have a hairdryer to hand so that we can blow dry the gutta lines to get them dry enough to move onto the next stage of applying the dyes after just a short break. Just switch on your hairdryer and give the silk a quick blast, taking care to keep the hot air flow moving so that the silk doesn’t over heat.

In fact the hairdryer is the standard method of drying objects with gutta that can’t be treated any other way. This could include round window pictures which consist of silk stretched over a metal hoop. These cannot be ironed if you are using iron fix dyes.

I have often guttaed my mandalas in summer months when the temperature was very high. This is ideal for getting your work to dry quickly but on the other hand you have to work quite quickly. So if you turn up the heating this will dry the gutta faster than if you work in a cold room. When you have completed the design, place your work near a radiator or even over it if this is possible. Take care that your silk doesn’t come into direct contact with the heater. Place books under the frame to raise it a bit higher.

Always remember, too, to fix your gutta into the silk when you have completed the painting. The gutta gets fixed at the same time as iron-fix dyes. For steam fixing, iron the silk on the reverse for up to 3 minutes.

And if you have the time to spare, I would always recommend that you leave the work overnight to allow the gutta to thoroughly dry at room temperature.

If you have any further questions on this topic, just post them at the end of this article. I look forward to hearing from you.

December 20, 2009 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Steam Fix Silk Dyes for Best Results

I was very recently asked a question about steam fixing silk dyes and this prompted me to write the present article. We’re not talking here about iron fixing as that is quite a straight forward process and needs no further explanation. It’s the French dyes which need to be steam fixed and that’s what we’re going to be looking at here.

One thing that is important to remember when you are painting with silk dyes is that both your gutta (if you have used any) and your dyes themselves will need to settle into the silk fabric, so it’s really recommendable to leave your work on the frame until the next day before attempting to fix it. This will ensure your work is completely dry. As the fixing process takes around 3 hours, it’s best left until the next day. That is the main reason why I offer to steam fix any work done by my workshop participants and to send it on to them a few days later.

But what about the actual steaming itself? How is that done? Well, I have always used a professional steaming device to do this. Mine is a horizontal one and has a roof-shaped lid as you can see in the photo here. The advantage of this is that any condensation can easily drop down to the sides and past the silk without harming it. I find it fantastic and haven’t had a piece of ruined silk in all the years I have been painting. It is electric and has a thermostat, ensuring a constant temperature all the way through. You may well have seen vertical models which are basically the same but most of them have to be used on top of your cooker on or electric plates.

These professional steamers are quite costly and the average hobby person will not be wanting to make such an investment. You can, of course, look on the internet to see where the nearest steaming service is. Many artists offer to do this for a reasonable fee per metre of silk plus postage. But there are ways of reaching similar results by making up your own steaming device at home. It is tricky to do it with constant good results and there is always the risk of drops of water getting onto your silk and spoiling it.

If you are attempting to do this at home, you will need a vegetable steamer of a decent size. You can wrap your silk artwork up by laying it flat on a piece of muslin and then on blank newspaper (or similar quality) and carefully rolling it up, taking care to seal the ends. You will have to fold in the ends to make a little parcel so that it will fit inside your steamer. This is where the difficulties start because ideally the parcel should not touch the sides. Your package really needs to be suspended freely in the steam for best results. Also, be careful not to package too much because then the steam won’t penetrate the wrapping in order to effectively fix the dyes. There are many artists who have developed their own methods for doing this so you might want to use your search engine to have a closer look. I have read time and again of disappointments when, despite this, condensation ruins the final effect of the silk.

One thing to bear in mind is that creases and marks tend to get fixed into the silk. So if you are not very careful in wrapping it up, it can come out with some permanent creases in it, depending on the silk quality. Satin silk is particularly sensitive so take a bit of time to ensure a smooth rolling up.

When you have steamed pongee or habotai (often used for wafty, translucent scarves), it is quite easy to rinse them in lukewarm water until the bleeding stops. Satin silk loses part of its sheen when you do this, so be warned. Also, make sure that you only swirl it about in the water and then lay it flat on a tea towel or the like to dry, as any squeezing or wringing will result in creases which will often not come out again. Ironing creases in satin silk often just irons them in. I paint my mandalas on satin silk and since they mostly get framed behind glass, I do not wash them afterwards. They just get ironed carefully and pat in a safe, dry place. Anything that is intended for wearing gets thoroughly rinsed.

When I prepare my work for steaming in my electrical device, I use a length cut off from a huge roll of blank newspaper which I have specifically for this purpose. One end of the paper is taped to a metal pole. I then begin to roll up my silks, taking care that both the paper and the fabric are completely flat and straight. I also allow for a good few inches space at both ends of the tube as well as at the start of the roll and the end. A few pieces of masking tape hold the roll closed. I then suspend it in the steam bath, close the lid, set the thermostat and leave it for 3 hours. When the time is up, being careful to use oven gloves or tea towels, I open the lid, lift out the pole and package and lay it down on the floor on plastic sheeting to cool. After a few minutes I unroll it and let the pieces of silk cool at room temperature. They look gorgeous, really glossy and translucent. Mmmmm…..the best part.

If the paper is not too messy, I recycle it in the next steaming. Any bleeding on the paper depends on how concentrated the dyes were when you painted and how liberal you were in your application of them.

And you don’t ever have to worry about overdoing things. When you are steaming your artwork, the process completes and if you forget about it and go off to do something else, leaving your silk in the steamer for even double the time you intended to, this doesn’t have any adverse effects. It’s not like overcooking veggies in the steamer. 🙂

You might find it worthwhile searching for sites that sell steaming devices because there’s nothing to beat them in simplicity and magnificence in results. I never have to worry about whether or not my work will turn out good . I paid more for mine because it is electric however you can get the version that you can warm up on your cooker for quite a bit less. You could also watch out on Ebay to see if you can pick one up at a good price.

One last word on this topic. There is also the “microwave” method. This is how it works – If you have painted a silk scarf in the wet in wet technique, you place it on a plate and put it in the microwave for a few minutes to fix the colours. You can only do this if it is very wet and there is no gutta. Since I originally posted this article, I have delved into this area and found it to be quite enjoyable. What you can make with it is very limited as the silk needs to be very wet before you pop it in for ‘cooking’. If it’s too dry, it’s just going to singe and burn…not very nice. I’ll be exploring this more and hope to have something in writing quite soon. 🙂

So, good luck with your work. I hope this article helps. Let me know how you get on.

December 12, 2009 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , | 15 Comments