Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

How to Create a Beautiful Designer Silk Scarf Using Your Microwave

That’s quite an odd title coming from me, isn’t it? If you’ve been following a lot of my writing here and on other sites, you’ll know that I’m a real believer in good quality steaming for silk painting. But….in view of the fact that not everyone has the time, space and funds for this whole process, I thought I would share with you some of my escapades with microwaving. So here’s how I’ve been doing it.

The first problem I had with microwaving was that I didn’t own a microwave oven. I’m not going into the details here, but I prefer to cook all my food by conventional means. Okay, so that meant I had to go off to Morrisson’s and luckily they had a really basic model which suited my needs. Two dials for timing and heat. That’s all you need for what I’m going to share with you.

Materials for microwaving a silk scarf

You’re also going to need some silk dyes, remember, the ones that are specifically for steam fixing. Not the paints which you set by heat. Read the labels on the bottles if you are unsure, or ask the shop assistant for help. You’ll also need a plain white scarf with rolled edges that you can add the dyes to.

Before you start you’ll need to get a bowl, add a mixture of 2 parts water and one part vinegar, then soak your silk scarf in this for at least 15 minutes. This will improve the dying process and ensure you get lovely bright colours that last.

You then take the silk out of the bowl, squeeze it out gently and lay it out on a surface covered with plastic sheeting. Have the dyes and brushes you’d like to use at hand, and you’re ready to go.

Tie some knots into the wet silk

There is one other thing I need to point out – you will get very messy hands doing this unless you put on some rubber gloves. Which I never do, but I’m passing on this tip to you if you don’t want to run around with ghoulish fingers and nails for the next few days. πŸ™‚

What you do next is completely up to your own imagination. You are going to start adding dyes to your heart’s content. Pick a nice colour range that would suit you and this will ensure the colours don’t clash. Splash them on with big brushes randomly. Or you can scrunch the silk up and dribble the dyes into the silk. Or what about folding it up and then painting the colours on in patterns? The example I’ve shown here is tying loose knots in the silk before applying the dye. The good news is that I’m in the process of putting together a video we took of me demonstrating this technique at a fair back in the summer, so you can copy what I did to get you started, if you like.

The important thing is that you keep the silk nice and wet so that you can properly ‘cook’ it afterwards.


Place the silk scarf in the bowl ready to microwave

Right, now you’re going to lift your silk and place it into a microwaveable dish. Don’t worry if the silk gets a little scrunched here too as your finished scarf will have an abstract pattern to it anyway. What I do next is get a piece of clingfilm and stretch this over the dish – I think it’s called Ceran wrap in the USA (that’ll save a few emails).Β  – ah, thanks Muffy. It’s Saran wrap. πŸ™‚ One thing you need to do at this point is prick a hole in the foil. And if you don’t do this? The foil will bulge up and may explode….making a bit of a mess.

Now we’re going to place the covered dish in the microwave for 5 minutes at a medium-high setting.

Use this time to go back and wipe your plastic covered surface clean. The last thing you want is to have dye spillage messing up your finished scarf. Or you can just lift the sheeting to one side and put it out of harm’s reach. This may sound like Kindergarten stuff, but it’s one of the main causes of people messing up their lovely silks after all the work is done. So, I just thought I’d throw it in again here.


Finished effect of tying knots in the silk scarf

Right, the 5 minutes are up, so remember to use some sort of cloth or glove to lift out the hot dish. Carefully remove the foil and lift out the wet scarf.

Yes, it will still be totally wet at this point but the dye is fixed so the wetness only comes from water.

Now all that is left for you to do is hang up the silk to dry. Later you can rinse it in warm water with a touch of mild shampoo to remove any excess dye and then dab it with a towel. Iron the silk dry from the reverse with a medium hot iron. Another thing you can do for a really fashionable look is twist the wet silk and leave it toΒ  dry. That will give you the look you can see in this final photo.


A gorgeous designer silk scarf

And there you are, ready to go. You’re now the proud owner of your very first original silk scarf. I don’t know about you, but I think this is a great way to make yourself something gorgeous in such a short space of time.

Do watch out for the video I’ll be posting in the next day or two, so that you can see the whole process in action. Have fun and let me know how things work out for you. I’d love to see your designer scarves.


December 12, 2010 - Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , , ,


  1. hi fiona…i absolutely loved going thru this wonder process of microwaving ur silks!i remember having a few words on this with u sometime back but seeing is believing…n i believe it does give wonderful results!
    to add a cherry on the cake…the scrunched up look…brilliant i’d say πŸ™‚
    m sure this technique can be used to fix plain colored silks too as in not tie-n-dye but just one color?!?!?
    great job there…
    lots of love

    Comment by jasdeep kaur | December 12, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Deepa. Glad you liked it and I hope you are inspired to give it a go. There are so many things you can do with it and the uni-colour fabric is something to try out too. You’re likely to get a mottled look, but I haven’t tried it yet so am not sure. I think I could publish a whole book with effects you can achieve in this way. Have fun with it. Love Fiona πŸ™‚ x

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. Fiona, what a great idea! I have never done that much silk painting because I have always had issues with steaming. I have several scarves crying out for this. The plastic wrap you are talking about is actually called “Saran Wrap”, as it is a brand name,

    Comment by Muffy Clark Gill | December 12, 2010 | Reply

    • Muffy, lovely to hear from you again. Yes, this idea is just so versatile and gives people an easy start to silk painting. And the cling film, that’s funny. Ceran/Saran – my phonetical transcription. Thanks for putting that right. Have a go Muffy and come back to let me know how things work out.
      Fiona πŸ™‚ x

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 12, 2010 | Reply

  3. I am going to have to try this! I wear scarves year round – whether it is cold outside or air conditioned in summer.
    It would be great to wear my own creation.

    Comment by backngroovemom | December 13, 2010 | Reply

    • Fabulous to hear that Rachel. Do let me know how things go – I’d love to hear. And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 13, 2010 | Reply

      • I am sure that I will have one or two questions!! thnx!

        Comment by backngroovemom | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. Nice, clear and easy instructions. I particularly like the “twist and dry” technique as my iron and I are not friends.

    Comment by Pat Zahn | December 13, 2010 | Reply

    • Twist and dry is great Pat. And you can quickly make something that goes great with a favourite outfit.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 13, 2010 | Reply

  5. The end result is absolutely gorgeous. Not sure mine would look like that if I gave it a try. But you never know. I never considered myself much of an artist but if I could make a scarf that looked like yours I would be very happy.
    I knew you were in thew UK soon as you mentioned Morrisons. I hadn’t heard the tern clingfilm for years so thanks for that memory also

    Comment by Julie Labes | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Glad to have brought you some memories Julie. And you’d be surprised what results you would get if you tried this out. It really is quick, easy and fun.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 14, 2010 | Reply

  6. Soooo cool! I’m so not crafty, but appreciate the process and opportunity to create. Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚
    Brandy Mychals
    Split Second Perceptions

    Comment by Brandy Mychals | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • You’re welcome Brandy.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 14, 2010 | Reply

  7. The scarf turned out beautifully. This would make a fabulous Xmas present and be meaningful since you made it yourself. Nice demonstration.

    Sharon Hiebing
    Follow Your Dream Compass

    Comment by sharonhiebing | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Sharon.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 14, 2010 | Reply

  8. Now here is something I would never have thought of. Great instructions, and the photos definitely help. Sounds like a wonderful holiday gift.

    Comment by Rob Wallis | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks for your comment Rob. I think it makes a great gift too.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 14, 2010 | Reply

  9. Beautiful and so simple! I’m not crafty at all though but my eldest daughter is and she loves scarves. Dare I show her this?
    Louise Edington
    Facing Fears and frontiers Over Fifty

    Comment by Louise Edington | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Do have a go. You’ll be amazed at the results. And you can give me a shout if you get stuck.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 14, 2010 | Reply

  10. This sounds like so much fun and what a beautiful product as a result! My daughter is so good with this kind of thing, I am going to share this with her and see if she would be willing to give it a try. Once I see how she does, I may try it too! I look forward to seeing your video!

    Comment by Donna McCord | December 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Donna. Maybe the two of you could try it out together. I’d love to see how it turns out.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 15, 2010 | Reply

  11. Now that’s fun and something I can do with my grand daughter as she get’s older…and hopefully more grand kids that come a long. Thanks!

    Comment by Irene Turner | December 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Glad this could be of use to you Irene. Yes, kids learn this really easily, too.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 15, 2010 | Reply

  12. I emailed this to a artsy friend of mine! Awesome blog post!

    Comment by Jen Sako | December 15, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks a lot Jen!

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 15, 2010 | Reply

  13. This looks like fun. Reminds me of some of the tie dye projects I did years ago, but your results look a bit more stylish

    Comment by KathyAlice | December 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Kathy. The silk is definitely very stylish and you can use it as a great fashion accessory .

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  14. What an easy project and the finish product is lovely. People could do this and create pillows or throws, by piecing bits together. You know me, always focused on the home decorating aspect

    Lovely Fiona!

    Jennifer Duchene
    Home Makeover Mixtress

    Comment by Jennifer Duchene | December 16, 2010 | Reply

    • So glad you liked this Jen and thanks for your comments. We are really on the same page with this sort of line. I love to make cushions and soft furnishings and have been thinking of all sorts of lovely throws. Really the sky’s the limit with these sort of things – you’re so right.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  15. This is a great tutorial on creating a silk scarf at home in the perfect colors. And for a fraction of the cost of purchasing at a boutique shop.

    Rachel Lavern
    Personal Transformation, Enlightenment and Development

    Comment by Rachel Lavern | December 16, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks Rachel.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 16, 2010 | Reply

  16. Wow- how cool is that! I’ve sent it to my sister who does this kind of thing, although don’t think she’s ever gotten into silk screening. I may even try it someday…lol

    Love your explanation with pictures and looking forward to the video. Thanks for taking the “HELP!” out of doing something creative for us non-creative people.

    Candace Davenport ~ Little Books with a Big Message

    Comment by Candace C. Davenport | December 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Hi Candace, Glad you enjoyed it and hope your sister has a go. Btw. silk screening is a specific printing process which was originally done using frames stretched with silk. This is part of the world of silk painting, using dyes and brushes. Thanks for coming by.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 17, 2010 | Reply

  17. What a wonderful tutorial! The photos are art pieces in themselves. I must say I would like a separate blog post on how/why you chose to eschew a microwave. I’ve thought quite a bit about how much I use a microwave (a lot) and wondering if it’s in my best interest. But back to the scarves! Yours is absolutely beautiful and you make the technique sound within reach for us ordinary folks. One question–anything about picking out the scarf to use?

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer

    Comment by Judy Stone-Goldman | December 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Thanks a lot for your comment Judy. I love to take photos and make up these posts. As to the microwave, well, now I just have to make a blog post about the ‘cons’. And the silk scarf itsef – well, you can get plain white scarves in any shop that sells silk painting materials. So where you find the paints, you find the scarves. Thanks for mentioning it as I could add some info about this again.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 17, 2010 | Reply

  18. Thanks for this post — nicely written and gorgeous photos, as usual. I enjoyed re-reading about how to tie-dye. Back in the 60s, I used to do this with T-shirts, sheets, towels, etc, but never thought to try a silk scarf.

    Comment by Robbie Schlosser | December 17, 2010 | Reply

    • Glad you enjoyed this Robbie. Yes, tie=dye is great fun, isn’t it. Technically this isn’t real die-dye as it involves creating some form of resist to create the patterns. You’ve reminded me that I made a real tie-dye about a year ago, so I may just post that one to let you see. The silk is much thinner than cotton and creates different results. Thanks for the ideas.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 17, 2010 | Reply

  19. I loved your instructions. They are so simple and easy and you have given me courage to BELIEVE I could do this someday. Make my own scarf kewl!

    Lisa Ann Landry
    Vibrating Positive Energy

    Comment by Lisa Ann Landry | December 18, 2010 | Reply

    • So glad you resonate with this Lisa. Would love to see you make one! Thanks for stopping by.

      Comment by Fiona Stolze | December 18, 2010 | Reply

  20. […] need a steamer of some sort and it can be a bit trickier. There is one exception and that’s silkpainting with the microwave which I wrote about a few weeks […]

    Pingback by Buying Silk Painting Supplies at Low Cost « Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze | January 24, 2011 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: