Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

Making a Silk Dress with my Very Own Handpainted Fabric – Part 1

Remember I painted 2 lengths of silk recently? One of them was in satin silk and was a bright array of vivid pink, fuchsia and orange.

The other was a pastel affair in soft shades of orange. Well, at last I’ve got round to planning the next step which is to make a lovely silk dress for myself.

You can see the fabric in this video and hear about what I’m planning to do with it.

But I really had to laugh while I was editing this footage. I’m going to have a competition to count how many times I say the word ‘gorgeous’  in this film! However, even though it was a little bit silly, I decided there was no way I was going to do the recording again as that would be even sillier.

Enjoy.

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December 19, 2010 Posted by | INSPIRATIONS | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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 info@silkandart.com

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