Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

What Silk Painting Topic Would You Love Me to Write About?

It’s great to get feedback from all of you lovely readers. Often I get emails thanking me for specific help I have given on the various topics looked at in this blog. Wherever I can, I like to deal with queries here in this space so that the maximum number of readers can benefit from what I write.

But today I have some questions for all of you. So that I can maximise the help I give you in your silk painting adventures, it makes sense to know on a regular basis what it is that you are wanting to hear about and know more on. And here we go:

What would you most like me to write posts about in order to give you ongoing support in silk painting?

What particular issues do you have the most difficulty with in silk painting and which ones almost put you off keeping going – please share these with me.

Is there anything in my particular area of expertise that you would like me to share with you in this space?

I would love to hear from you below. Please add any comments you have, ask any questions you may have and make any suggestions you’d like to. I’ll be glad to help in any way I can.

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September 26, 2010 Posted by | MANDALA ART | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Bringing Thoughts, Words and Actions into Alignment

I remember reading many years ago that it is very empowering to bring your thoughts, words and actions into alignment. At the time I read it, it struck me as quite a difficult thing to do and I immediately began to ponder on how I fitted the bill.

I’ve always highly valued walking my talk and have never felt comfortable with advising someone else to do something I had never done or wouldn’t be prepared to do. And as you can imagine, it can be quite a high standard to live up to. There have been so many situations where I saw clearly that I wasn’t doing any ‘talk-walking’ at all and that I was holding unreasonable expectations of others.

Over the past couple of years this whole concept has been foremost in my awareness and I came to realise that this was not something that I needed to really consciously work hard at. I saw that had more to do with a shift in my awareness and a new way of being that came automatically.

I have sat and watched the whole process unfolding within me again and again. A situation would arise and I would begin to have a reaction of some sort and start an inner dialogue of what I was thinking and what I was going to do. I might share an idea or two relating to it with someone else.  And then….nothing. It would sort of fizzle out and that was it.

So where was this whole thing with word, thought and action being in alignment? I would start to see where what the other person was doing was really only a reflection of me. I would do the ‘metaphysical’ thing and take ownership. But often this just left me feeling frustrated and I knew that the issue had not been truly resolved.

It really was time to stir myself into action and get beyond just playing bits of film in my mind’s eye.

Well, the universe certainly served up an opportunity for me to put this to the test and created the ideal situation. It came in the form of a houseviewing yesterday. Bear in mind that we are tenants and will have notice served on us when an offer is made. The estate agent had also persuaded us to stretch out limit to beyond 5pm for viewings for this particular client. I was focussing on remaining centred throughout this process, but this is what happened in a nutshell. The three ‘visitors’ started talking very loudly,  turning up the volume in their discussion so we could hear every word they were saying. They began laughing raucously and joking around. They began banging on the walls, testing them for structure. They opened and closed cupboards.

I was getting really annoyed and envisaged myself confronting them. This escalated until half an hour had passed. I thought, ‘Just take a deep breath, they will be gone in a minute.’ But no, the estate agent came mincing back through the kitchen and said ‘You don’t mind if we go back in the garden, do you?’

The back of our house being guarded over by 2 little angels

Right, that was it. I turned around and said really crisply: ‘Would you mind bringing this viewing to a close. You’ve been here now for half hour and I think that’s enough!’ Well, by the looks on their faces, you’d think I’d just dropped a bomb-shell. They were almost more surprised than I was at actually doing this.

They left within a couple of minutes without saying goodbye and I was immediately galvanised into action. I picked up the phone asking to speak to the manager in the estate agent’s office, saying I had a complaint to make about the lack of professionalism during the viewing and leaving my mobile number for boss to phone back. I then contacted our letting agent, telling them what had happened and that I wanted to contact the landlord directly and tell him how unacceptable this whole experience was for us. They were very supportive and understanding and took the  matter in hand.

I then got a message the next morning on my landline from the office manager I had contacted, saying he had heard I wanted to make a complaint and could I call him back. His tone was very stand-offish, he sounded threatened and was clearly nervous. Not a hint of: ‘Madam, I’ve heard that you want to make a complaint. I’m really sorry that this has happened. It wasn’t our intention to do so. Let’s have a talk so that we can see what we can do for you.’ The buck has to stop with him. That’s his job. Professionalism? What’s that?

And what about me? Well, to tell you the truth, that’s about one of the most amazing ‘thought, word and action being in alignment’ experiences I have ever had.  And what impact did it have on me? I slept better in the night after it than I had for a very long time. I woke up with a spring in my step and a smile on my face. I really did pop a balloon. This has been incredibly empowering for me. I still keep thinking – wow, did I really say and do that?

We create our own reality and recently, many things had been pretty crap to say the least. I realised I had a choice. And what a choice. It was still my home and this was unacceptable in my 4 walls. I had been keen to keep on friendly terms with all involved, however, this was not obviously a win-win in our case.  So it was time to change the parmeters. Shift the goal-posts, so to speak.

Bringing my thoughts, words and actions into alignment lets me tap into my hidden strength where nothing is incongruent any more.

And what does it matter if some people don’t like me now. It is not my job to ensure that everyone likes me. It is hugely refreshing to see how people don’t like me when I speak up for myself. Everyone lets down their facade and it all gets real. No pretending any more. And sure, it can be hard.

But you know what? I like me more for this and that’s all that matters. Good job Fiona! 🙂

p.s. I just wanted to add the insights that I have received over the last few hours. I am in gratitude to these people for allowing me to experience this and galvanising me into this new ‘kick-ass’ energy. It’s sort of shocked me out a certain lethargy that I had settled into and it seems to be the new energy that will serve me well in exploring new areas in the months to come. So thank you Besley Hill.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Silk Painting with Om and Soya Wax Part 2

So here we are bringing the om design to completion. As you have probably just read in the last post (part 1), I painted the design onto the silk fabric with soya wax and then allowed it to dry.

Next I unpinned the fabric from the frame and very gently scrunched it all up so there were cracks all over the hardened wax. I then attached it again to the frame ready for the second layer of dye.

Crinkled wax ready for the next layer of dye

And what was the purpose of doing this? Well, when you apply some more dye to the picture, the dye sneaks inbetween all the cracks and creates a wonderfully textured image. So I mixed two shades of dye and then took a medium sized brush and just washed one of the colours all over the outer area and the second one on the circle. It was repelled where it met the wax, but where it got into the cracks, it reached the silk beneath, adding more colour to it in a lovely pattern.

If you are doing this yourself at home make sure you take time at this stage to use some cotton swabs and dab away all the pearls of dye sitting on top of the wax. The reason for this is that, if you don’t, it will all seep through onto the silk when you come to the ironing stage. So just take a few minutes and very carefully wipe it all off.

The second layer of dye painted over the wax

Okay, so far so good. Now you need to be a bit patient and wait for the new layer of dye to thoroughly dry before you can start to remove the wax. With other techniques it’s possible to use the hairdryer to speed things up, but since we are working here with hardened wax, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Alright, now the dye has dried you can begin to iron out the soya wax. You can use some newspaper for this. Put a few sheets on your ironing board, lay the silk on top and then put a few sheets of paper on the top of the fabric. I use a relatively hot iron and just start to push it back and forth over the paper. Soon you will see the wax melting through. Just keep going until you have removed as much as you can. You might want to replace the sheets of paper with clean ones if a lot of wax is coming off.

At this point a lot of the wax will have come out but the silk will still feel quite stiff. When you steam your fabric, you will find that a lot more comes out onto to the steaming paper. But the silk still doesn’t feel super soft. So just fill your sink with some warm water and add a dash of gentle shampoo. This will remove the last remains of the wax. Rinse until the water is clear.

Completed picture with gold gutta embellishment

I ironed my silk dry and then pinned it once again onto the frame. You can see the results of what I did next. I outllined lots of the interesting shapes and edges with gold gutta, giving it quite a mystical look. Then I ironed the gutta into the fabric. The silk is really vibrant but the turquoise doesn’t show up nearly as well in this photo as it does here in my workshop.

I love the final look of this piece and have yet to decide what I would like to do with this piece of work. I’m sure I’ll come up with something fitting. So now it’s your turn. Why not have a go. I’d love to see what you make if you do try it out. Be sure to send me a picture. Have fun!

September 23, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silk Painting with Om and Soya Wax Part 1

Pastel background and Om template

Yes, I’m painting with soya wax on silk again because I had such fun the first time I tried it a couple of weeks ago. And this time I thought I would try using a template I had instead of just drawing the pattern free-hand like I did last time. As I write the wax is still hardening properly and so I’ve decided to document what I’ve done so far.

I began by stretching a piece of silk on the wooden frame and applying some

Tracing the Om symbol onto the silk

pastel shades of blue, turquoise and fern green. I really watered them down so that the effect would be very light and diluted. This was because I wanted to get a stronger contrast between the first and the second layer of dye I applied. If you read the post on my first soya piece, you will remember that everything was a lovely medley of fuchsias and purples with all the tones blending into each other.

I chose to use the Om symbol for this piece and looked out a computer printout I had that I could use. The next step was to trace this symbol onto the silk. I very rarely trace things, only for designs that I want to repeat such as greeting cards or very small pictures but when I do, this is how I do it, so to speak.

The soya wax granules in the hot water bath in the saucepan

I place one or two books on the table and the pattern on top of the books. Then I lay the frame over this and position it so that the design is nicely centred.  Using one of those magic fabric markers, I trace the lines onto the silk. Mine is purple and fades within a day or two of using it. The greater the heat in the room, the quicker the lines disappear.

Okay, so far so good. Next I got out my soya wax granules and popped a handful of them into a metal bowl which I placed in a saucepan of water.  I turned the heat on and watched while the granules melted, ready for me to start painting. It’s surprising how little wax I have needed for my work so far. I had some solidified wax left in the bowl from last time and added more granules for today’s session but at the end I still had some left!

The last time I used a flat brush but this time I used a finer round one which

Painting the Om symbol with soya wax

was great to work with filling in the pattern I had traced. I kept the wax really hot, dipping my brush in again and again  to avoid the wax cooling and therefore ensuring it penetrated the silk properly. I had to keep watching that my fingers didn’t brush against the parts that I had already painted as this would smudge the wax.

I was aware that I was creating work of a very different quality from usual gold gutta lining. With the wax I found my first picture was full of movement and different textures and so the individual outlines were not key to the overall look of the painting.  We’ll see how this one turns out when I have completed work on it.

Okay, so I completed outlining and filling in the symbol I had traced. It was already beginning to solidify and turn white where I had applied the wax. When you paint the wax on, it should be dark and make the silk look see through. That tells you that the wax was hot enough. In fact, you can see here a picture I have taken holding the frame up to the light to show you what the design looks like. And when I turned the completed frame over, the reverse actually looked as if I had applied the wax to that side. Excellent. No worries about the wax not fully working as a resist. This is satin silk I am working on and it appears to be very well suited to this sort of work. I have yet to try out crepe de chine which could turn out to have very different results due to the twisted weave of the fabric.

The waxed silk held against the light

When I had completely filled in the Om symbol, I decided to add some squiggly lines to give some substance to the background of the picture. This would give a lovely interplay of colours after adding more dye.  I’m having a break at this point and will continue

The completed picture with squiggly lines on the background

with applying the second coat of dye tomorrow.

The last picture here shows the frame from the reverse and you can see how

The soya wax lines on the reverse of the silk

the wax has completely come through the silk, creating an effective barrier for further painting. I’m intrigued as to how this will look when finished and so will probably get going with this soon after breakfast.

I hope this was of some use to you and hope to see you for part 2.

September 15, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Change of Perspective

I love it when I have an unexpected change of perspective. And to be honest, it’s happening more and more these days.

I love going onto the various forums and listening to what other people have to say, thinking at first that I have my onw preferred way of doing things. But then, oh so gradually, I notice that what the others are saying begins to take on an allure. And then, something from deep inside of me says, hey how about giving that a try?

Those of you who know me a bit better will also know that I do like to try out new things. And so, when someone comes along with something that rattles my cage, I just have to have a better look at it. In a way, it’s just so useless to talk about things theoretically. For me, it’s about walking your talk. Have a go and see how it works.

All of this can refer to any area of life, but in the context of this blog, we’re talking here about perceived fixed ways of doing things in the field of silk painting.

And I’m sure you’ll all agree that the field of silk painting is rampant with preconceived notions about how things should and shouldn’t be done. It’s actually quite funny. All the more so when someone makes a claim about something having to be done this or that way. Then the next person comes along and does exactly the opposite, finding it works a treat. It’s hilarious.

I’ve spent a great many years using gold resist and painting my mandalas on satin silk.  And you can imagine that I’ve become rather fixed in my ways (if you’ll pardon the pun!). Yes, of course, I’ve gained lots of experience and learned some great skills along the way. However, my way is not THE way and there are indeed many, many roads that lead to Rome.

So it was really great fun for me to recently take the plunge and leap head first into the world of painting on silk using soya wax as a resist. Talk about changing your perspective. What joy! There was me, pretending my preference was for slow, deliberate brush strokes and blending of colours. Imagine how thrilled I was to cast care to the wind and splurge my silk full of paint using a big brush all over the wax! Don’t get me wrong. I still adore the gold gutta on the mandalas, but this unexpected excursion into unfamiliar waters took me right back to my sandpit days. 🙂

So just take a moment to think how that can be applied to the rest of life. A complete turnaround in the way we normally do things to bring about a complete change of perspective. How refreshing and invigorating is that?

Well, now I’m setting intention to consciously bring about a change of perspective in my life wherever I can.   Life’s too short for fixed ways.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Painting on Silk with Soya Wax Part 2

This post is meant to follow on from the last one I made about painting on silk with soya wax. I had painted the wax onto the silk and left it to dry before scrunching it up to create lots of cracks.

Silk painting before steaming

Next thing I did was  to stretch it back on the frame. It was now looking very odd with the wax crumbling all over the place but this was all intentional so that the following step would be effective.  I mixed a few shades of darker fuchsia and purple and applied these with thick brushes, spreading the dye all over the silk and the waxed parts. That was good fun as it was quick, messy and uncontrolled.  What a contrast to my normal way of working with gold resist and my fine brushes. 🙂

When I had completed that, I then took some kitchen roll and carefully dabbed all the drops of dye which had accumulated on top of the wax. There’s a very important reason for doing this. If you leave them on, when you come to the ironing, the dye will then pentrate the silk, leaving marks. So dab them off.

Where the wax has cracked, the dye will penetrate through to the silk, creating lines and making a very interesting pattern.

Okay, so far so good. The droplets had been removed, the second layer of dye was completely dry. Now it was time to iron off the wax. I laid some sheets of newspaper down on my ironing board, placed the silk on top and then some more newspaper sheets on top of that.  I took a few minutes to iron my silk, allowing the heat of the iron to melt the soya wax and get dabbed up by the newspaper. When I had finished, I removed the piece of silk. It still felt a bit stiff but the remaining soya wax would come out onto the paper during steaming.

Then, 3 hours later, the silk came out of the steamer, glistening, shining, looking positiviely gorgeous.  The leaves had an amazing marbled effect due to the darker dyes coming through the cracks in the wax.  Very nice indeed and very exciting.

Soo then I had the idea of adding some gold accents. I grabbed my bottle of resist and drew around a few of the lines and added dots. When this had thoroughly dried, I ironed it from the reverse and then gave it a very gentle rinse in some warm water with mild shampoo to eliminate the final traces of wax.

Leaf detail of steamed silk painting showing cye through the cracks

And here it is. Now it may sound like a lot of work but to be honest, it didn’t take nearly as long as it would for me to create a mandala. When you are absorbed in a creative project, the time just passes anyway, doesn’t it? So, why not have a go? Just get yourself some of these soya wax pellets and a little pot to heat them up in. You’ll also need some newspaper and your iron and ironing board. And off you go.

If you try this out, I’d love to hear from you.

September 5, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments