Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

And This is What the Fuchsia Top Looks Like Now it’s Finished…

So…moving on from the last post, I’m now going to let you see how I put the final touches to the top I was making in lovely fuchsia and pink.

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Tying off a small section of silk

Now I hadn’t steamed my silk yet, so I had to be very careful in handling the top. This meant keeping it well away from anything that could cause the tiniest of bloops and mess the silk. I certainly couldn’t steam iron it to remove the creases although that would have made  applying the gutta much easier.

But before I talk about what I did, I want to share something quite funny. As my fellow silk painters will

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Capillary action of the silk dye

agree, there is often an element of surprise involved when you paint on silk. And this project was really

no exception. As you can see from the photos in the last post, I had tied a small bunch of the silk with some wool, exactly where Iwas intending to paint the gutta on after the steaming. Well,  I painted the silk and stood back to admire my work. But it was then that science took over. It’s called capillary action. And what that means is that when you create a narrow space such as a tube, a liquid can then travel up through it. My husband tells me this is an effect of the surface tension. What it basically meant for me was that the bit of silk I had wanted to stay white became pink….and so I had to rethink the next step of my painting project. 🙂

I  took out one of those bamboo hoops you can use for embroidering. I marked the exact centre and then fitted the silk in place. Now,

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Applying the gold gutta pattern

some of you may know that when you apply gutta to white silk, it penetrates the fabric creating a barrier for the dye you paint on top. However, when you

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Applying the dye to the pattern

have already dyed the fabric, any gutta you apply will not act as a resist but sit on top as decoration. So I painted a small mandala pattern in gold gutta and let it dry. I could see that it had not fully gone through to the reverse due to the fact that it had been applied on top of the dye. This meant that it would probably leak past the lines. And I didn’t want that to happen to this lovely top.

So I had to hold my breath and mix some dye and get started. I used a very small brush so that the area in question would not be flooded and very slowly and carefully applied the dye, keeping it as dry as possible. Any leaks would also create hard edges which I definitely did not want. Time seemed to stand still as I worked the tiny brush, filling in the dye where I wanted colour…and then I was finished. Wow, not a bloop in sight. Oh, joy!!  I sat back, grinning from ear to ear, thrilled that it was now complete and that very little could go wrong now.

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

The completed fuchsia silk top

Next step was the steaming, which unfolded without a hitch and then out came the finished item. I was jumping about with joy at that point, knowing that the end was very near. The next morning, after the top had lain and cooled for a night, I steam ironed it and then pinned it together at the side seams. A quick tension check on the machine and we were ready to go.

And there we were. Ready to go. These pictures document some of the steps involved and give you an idea of what was going on. It was such good fun. I always find that when I’m making something purely for pleasure,it always flows just that bit better than when I’m making something that has to turn out a specific way.

I’m going to be making some of these in different colour schemes and am planning on putting much more energy into silk wearables in the months to come. If you’d like to wear one of my creations, do get in touch.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and seeing what I’ve been up to. I promise to publish a photo of me wearing it as soon as the Bristol weather allows for it. 🙂

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May 11, 2010 Posted by | PAINTINGS IN PROCESS | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Painting a Crepe de Chine Top in Nummy Fuchsia

It’s no secret that I adore fuchsia. So just recently it was particularly exciting for me to paint myself a new fuchsia top. These photos

silk painting, fiona stolze

Wet sculpted crepe de chine

here document the first few steps that I took for my creation. I decided to do without the frame and just make lots of mess on the plastic sheeting on the table.

In contrast to the orange camisole top I recently sewed and painted from scratch, I decided to use a pre-sewn ladies top for this job. This garment was sewn at the shoulders, so all I have to do is pin the sides together and sew it up when I have completed all the usual stages of painting, steaming and ironing.

The first step involved spreading the top out on the plastic and giving it a good soak. The next part is fun because I push the silk around, sculpting it into different shapes, twisting and moulding it until it sits in a way I am happy with. I then mix my dyes, or dilute them accordingly, select the brushes I’m going to use and off I go.

Once the dyes have been applied I then leave the top to lie and dry for 24 hours. You have to really make sure it’s in a safe place and can sit undisturbed without any kitties or hamsters going for a stroll and stretching out on it, or chewing on the edges for a taste. Come to think of it, you have to make sure no members of the family are likely to trip and slosh their coffee over it either…

silk painting, fiona stolze

Painting the dyes on the silk

I’m lucky in this respect as I have an attic room which other family members very rarely enter and they know that my artistic endeavours have absolute priority up there. 🙂

Okay, 24 hours have passed without any major mishaps. What next? I carefully lift up the top and shake it out to see how the colours have dried and how the patterns look. Pinks and fuchsias always look very exciting and uplifting so I can’t wait to have a look the next day after painting. I never rush to steam my work after painting. It normally spends a full day on the table or hanging before I get it ready to be steamed. This ensures it has thoroughly dried and sort of set before the next stage.

The next job was to lay out the paper and roll the top up on the pole to be steamed to fix the dyes. Normally I take care to lay the silk out really flat to ensure no creases are there as they tend to get steamed into the silk. However, the magic

silk painting, fiona stolze

Fuchsia silk top ready for steaming

fairies always help out when I do wet sculpting because I roll up the crushed silk and yet it doesn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever on the final outcome. I suppose that blows that myth straight out of the window. Ah, old habits die hard. Next time I steam, I’ll be taking ages to ensure that nothing is crushed. Talk about double standards…:-)

One thing I don’t do though is touch unsteamed silk in any way in case it gets messed. Any of you who steam silk know how easy it is to get the slightest bloop on the silk. So that is the main reason why I don’t iron any creases out when the dyes are still not fixed.

Okay, that’s as far as I’m going to go in this post. Here are the first few pictures. I’m hoping to do the second part tomorrow to let you see the last stages and the final item.

See you then.

May 9, 2010 Posted by | PAINTINGS IN PROCESS | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Painting a Silk Mandala as a Slow Meditation – Nourishment for the Soul

I get asked so often how long it takes me to paint a mandala. It’s that “How long is a piece of string?” time again. It totally depends on what size it is, how detailed it is, how much I have going on around its creation and so on…

I decided to share some of my thoughts on this with you in an article because it always helps me to get clarity on the whole process.

First and foremost painting a mandala is a meditation. I always get a sort of ethereal nudge when it’s time to make up a frame and begin the creative process of birthing a mandala. It’s never left up to me to just say – okay today I’m going to paint one. So it’s a sort of cosmic ordering, if you like. I remember the first time a lovely gentleman came up close to my stand and after a few minutes of

"Stargate" mandala on frame

admiring my paintings asked me – where do you get the templates from? That really made me smile. What a lovely question. I began to explain to him that I never really know what the paintings are going to look like when I start them. The quicker I get out of my own way and allow everything to flow, the better. That’s when the magic starts.

Many of you will know that I stretch my silk onto the frame, mark the centre and then draw several random concentric circles with a fabric marker and compasses. I then take my bottle of gold gutta, the resist that creates the pattern, and start to draw the pattern, circle by circle, going out from the centre.  I allow it all to unfold freehand, so the mandalas have a natural, easy symmetry without being too exact.

There are a few exceptions to this. One or two of my paintings depict specific sacred geometry and so they had to be created using the compasses and ruler. An example of this is my “Stargate” which shows a five and six-pointed star nestled into each other, coccooned in a mandala. With some of my larger mandalas, the process of applying the gold gutta takes on a really meditative tone as some of the outer rings take

Fiona Stolze painting "Stargate" silk mandala

one hour at a time. I normally play some of my favourite spiritual music and then completely surrrender to what is happening. There have been times that I have stood back and said – oh, wow, that’s what you look like. It’s only when I stand back and put down my tools that I get the bigger picture.

And during this time the colours just choose themselves. They step forward in an easy and effortless process, so I don’t have to think about it. Knowing that any colour goes with any other one makes everything so simple. 🙂

And to the question of my having a lot of patience to do this kind of artwork, well, it’s all about being in the present moment, the extended now when I paint. Then linear time ceases to exist. It’s a moment and an eternity in one.

These photos here show “Stargate” being created. I painted it in the summer months and so was able to have the patio doors open to let the warm air in to circulate in the room. I lost count of how long this painting was actually on the frame. At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. It was a pure joy to paint. The chakra colours run up through the two stars with high-vibrational magenta in the centre.

But one thing is very clear. Painting in this way is a nourishment for the soul. Colour is pure energy. And energy allowed completely free flow is a potent form of healing. So healing the world with these beautiful colours seems a very worth while way to be.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | PAINTINGS IN PROCESS | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments