Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

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.

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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

How to Wash Out Water-Soluble Gutta

I just wanted to say a quick few words about gutta or resist. It’s a topic which comes up time and again and just needs to be gone over when it does.

The resist technique in silk painting is when you use substances to create a barrier in the fabric which hinders the flow of the dyes. When you apply dye freely to your silk, it flows in an uncontrolled way, giving you a pattern without form, so to speak. In order to give structure to your design, you can use any of the resists available to gain this effect.

Technically speaking, gutta is a rubbery type of resist which has to be removed by dry-cleaning. For those of you who don’t like fumes or paying for dry-cleaning, there is a water-soluble version available which should not be called gutta even though it does get called this. This is what we are talking about here.

It is only the clear version that you can wash out of the silk after the colours are set. After ironing or steaming setting, hold your silk under the running tap and gently squeeze the fabric until all remains of the resist have gone. Roll your silk in a towel and dab it dry. It’s as simple as that.

The other types of resist cannot be removed after application. These are the coloured and metallic versions. When they have dried, ideally over night, you iron them into the fabric using a hot iron and then proceed with either more painting or fixing. These are an integral part of the design and the lines you create with them remain in the pattern. This is the case with my gold gutta lines on the mandalas (you see, I’m calling the resist by the name gutta – it’s a bad habit). 🙂

If you are using any of the solvent-based guttas, then you will have to remove them via dry-cleaning.

So, that was it. Hope this helps.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Avoid Getting Dye On Your Gutta Lines

As if it wasn’t enough working at creating your gutta design without any hitches, but then you have the task of applying the dye to complete the picture. It’s true that you can achieve really great looks by just putting in a minimal amount of effort, but sometimes when you go that extra mile, your artwork just looks so much better.

One thing you have to take into consideration when applying your silk dyes is the possibility of the dye discolouring the gutta so that it’s only partially or not at all visible afterwards. I’m talking about the coloured and metallic guttas here which don’t like being painted over very much.

I wanted to share with you my experience. I used to draw my gutta lines and then leave them over night to thoroughly dry. Then next day I was always keen to get on with the painting and sometimes got a little too excited. If I wasn’t careful enough with my brush, I would get some of the dye on my gutta which immediately made it become dull and lose its sheen. This wasn’t something I was able to remedy afterwards by putting some more gutta on top. This can be a messy procedure anyway and it always looks as if you’ve been trying to give your work a make-over.

But then I came up with the following idea. Whenever I needed to do a lovely wash of colour and the gutta was “in the way”, I turned over my frame and applied the dye from the underside. This gave (and still gives) me a lovely flowing look and left my gutta lines completely intact and bright. All I do is place 4 juice or milk cartons underneath the corners of the frame and I’m ready to go.

However, I don’t recommend using this all the time. I have found that my detailed precision work on my mandalas looks better when I have painted right way up. I would suggest keeping painting on the reverse for “messier” painting. 🙂

Hope this has helped and let me know how you get on.

February 16, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , | Leave a comment

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