Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

I’m Making Little Ring Pillows From Lovely Silks

I’ve started a new project. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and somehow never got round to it. Now I know that this is basically a silk painting blog, but bear with me when I tell you that this first prototype is actually made of ready-made silks.

fiona stolze hand made silk ring pillow

Peachy-pink silk ring pillow

I used some really lovely embroidered silk for the top and the underneath is made with a shimmering dupioni silk. For those of you who don’t like feathers, this little pillow is stuffed with 100% hypo-allergenic material which makes it really healthy and safe. It ‘s also great because it really is feather-light and this makes it easy and cheap to send through the post.

You can see I added two little hearts on the band in gold gutta and then a slim ribbon attached by a little pearl bead.

Unfortunately the photo doesn’t really do it justice. The silk is a gorgeous peachy-salmony colour which has turned into dusty-pink here.

Well, I got inspired putting this together, that I got busy today making the first pillows from handpainted silk. I found some very lovely jacquard silk I bought as an off-cut from a bridal shop and added some very pastelly blues and turquoises.  When these panels are steamed, I’ll be adding some matching dupioni to finish them off.

My thoughts, of course, are already on the next pillows. I think it would

Jacquard silk painted pink

be a great idea to go back to my beloved satin silk and create mini mandalas, first of all just the gold on the plain silk. I may then go on to explore with one or two colours but keep them simple so as not to compete with everything else that is going on. 🙂

I hope you like these little projects. If you do, please leave a comment and let me know. I always love to receive your feedback. The first model is already proudly on offer on Etsy. You can see it here: Silk Ring Pillow on Etsy

And of course, if you’d like to see me make or try out any specific design or colour scheme, just suggest it to me. I love new challenges.

July 29, 2010 Posted by | SILK & ART PRODUCTS | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Here’s That Little Silk Clutch Bag I Was Talking About…

Remember I was talking about making a silk clutch bag completely from scratch? Well, here is some

Designing the silk panels

documentation sharing with you my process of putting it all together.  I had seen so many beautiful pieces on the internet but decided that if I was going to make one, then it had to be completely my own work. So I set about painting 2 panels that I could use as the outer fabric.

I chose some fairly sturdy fabric that would take a bit of wear and tear, as opposed to the usual satin and crepe qualities which I normally use and are perfect for painting on. I created a little leaf pattern using gold and silver gutta together with a mixture of blue and purple dyes.

Silk clutch bag outer and lining

After cutting panels of the correct size and backing them with vilene and wadding, I sewed them together to make a pouch. Next I made an identical pouch for the lining using a lovely copper-coloured dupioni silk. Then I mitred the corners on both the lining and the outer fabric with it’s double lining.

I sewed the two pouches together and reversed them again so that they were the right way round, ready for having the frame  glued on.

You start with the front and spread glue along the inside of the frame as

Completed silk clutch bag

well as along the top edge of the bag.  You then have to stuff the edge of the clutch bag up into the frame using a semi-sharp object. As I proceeded, I gained in confidence. At first I was a bit reluctant to be rough with the silk but then when I realised that nothing untoward was going to happen, I got stuck in (literally) with a lot more elbow grease.

And between you and me, I am very proud of the final result. Particularly since the fabric is totally unique.

So, if you happen to like this one, just let me know because I might just be able to make one for you too. Totally different of course.

Here’ s the original listing on Etsy.

June 16, 2010 Posted by | EXPERIMENTS IN SILK | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Silk Cushion for Valentine’s Day

I’ve been working hard at creating new silks in my workshop and the latest creation is a pink satin silk cushion with a mottled bright red heart in the centre, with gold gutta lines. And to top it all off, it comes wrapped up a lovely white gift box and fuchsia ribbon. The perfect Valentine’s Day gift. It won’t wilt within a week and is guaranteed not to add a single ounce to your weight.

Valentine's Day silk cushion

The cushion measures approx. 39cm x 39cm and has a satin silk hand-painted front panel. The reverse is made from beautiful dupioni silk with a zip. The cushion can be supplied within the UK with a feather pad and wrapped up in a white gift box with a satin fuchsia ribbon. For those of you who live further afield, you have the additional option of ordering it just as a cushion cover. This makes it so much easier to send and hugely cuts down on shipping costs.

Reverse of Valentine's Day silk cushion

The price for the Valentine’s Day silk cushion is £65 including the pad, box and ribbon plus p+p. The cushion cover only option costs £56 plus p+p. Boxed cushions are sent by a 2-day courier service.

Additional FREE option: you can have any short message added to the cushion. Or why not have your loved one’s name written in gold across the heart for that really personal touch. Please specify this when ordering.

To order: please contact me at

Silk & Art gift box

If you’d like to order one for February 14th, I will need to know by February 5th at the latest.

However, why limit yourself to Valentine’s Day? If you’d like one at any time for a romantic occasion, a dear friend or to pamper yourself, please just get in touch with me and let me know your needs.

January 16, 2010 Posted by | SILK & ART PRODUCTS | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Making Silk Cushion Covers – Using Ready Made Ones or DIY?

I was prompted to write this article after an exchange with a lovely silk painting colleague about painting silk cushions. So thank you Christine for your inspiration.

It was about the question of using the silk cushion covers which are ready made or making your own from scratch. Well, this one may seem like a no-brainer. Those of you who like sewing will make the cushions from scratch and those of you who don’t like sewing or just can’t be bothered will go for the premade ones.

However, I am one of those artists who does both. And I wanted to share some pro’s and con’s of using either of these methods to create your gorgeous works of art.

So let’s start with the ready made ones. For those of you unfamiliar with them, I have a photo here of one for you to look at. The front and back panels are sewn together which means only one seam is closed. That’s where the zip is and you can make this either the top or bottom. You can stretch the 3 sides open cover on a frame and paint it to your heart’s desire. One advantage is that the shape is extremely easy to stretch (being a rectangle). Another advantage is that the zip is already sewn in which has to be a huge plus. The only thing that you have to do after fixing the dyes, is to fold the cover in half outside in, pin the edges and then sew the remaining 3 seams to complete your work. Iron the seams into the silk and then that’s you finished. You can turn it the right way round and pop a cushion pad inside.

That all sounds great and it is. However, I have found one or two niggly things that can spoil the look of the finished cushion. When you are painting the area around the zip you will find that the dye doesn’t get absorbed very cleanly into the silk, due to the double thickness of the fabric and the metal teeth lying underneath. I always put something inbetween the zip and the double layer of silk above it so that there is less marking.

Something else that can be a little bit messy is the area alongside the zip seams – the little holes where the needle punctured the silk. When you paint here, the colour can become uneven.

Tip: So this is what I do. On both sides of the zip close to the stitching I draw a straight gold line going full width of the cover. If there is any blotchiness and unevenness this stays within the enclosed area around the zip and doesn’t spread onto the rest of the cover. You can see this quite well in the photo.

There is one last thing to watch for. These covers are mass made and you will find the odd one that is rather irregular in shape which means that when you fold it over the two sides don’t match. That means you’ll have to take a ruler and measure out new edges to keep it all straight. It gets a bit tricky when the piece looks more like a rhombus than a rectangle. 🙂

On the whole, they cut down assembly time. No frustration at the overlock machine not performing correctly. So there’s a lot to be said for them.

And what about the other option, making the cushion cover completely from scratch? I rather like doing this. You can freely create your front panel in any way you choose. The back panel can then either be made in the same material or in something contrasting. I like brightly coloured dupioni silks for quite a classy look and durability.

As for the zip, you can pay someone who is well-versed in sewing to insert it into the panel for you. It’s a job that shouldn’t take more than 15-20 minutes for someone who knows what they are doing. And this won’t cost much at all. They might then even quickly overlock the 2 panels together for you. If you’re a hobby person who enjoys doing this sort of work, then it is no great hardship to do the complete sewing job yourself.

So the downside is that it takes quite a bit longer to put together and it involves sewing in a zip. The advantage is that the completed cushion is quite robust if you have chosen to use a sturdier silk for the back panel. And it will have a really unique look to it.

Whatever you choose to do, hand painted silk cushion covers are a beautiful addition to your living space and are certainly a topic of conversation when friends come around. And they are a great joy to create.

January 12, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment