Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

New Mandala Silk Painting Workshop Date in February 2011

There’s good news for those of you who’d like to try out silk painting  in the cosy atmosphere of a small workshop. I’d love it if you could come along and join in. And here are the details:

Day: Saturday, 12th February

Time: 10am – 4pm

Where: private address in Bristol. Details on registration

Cost: £50.00

Here’s a link to the FB event page where you can find a bit more info about what we’ll be doing:

Silk & Art Silk Painting  Event

I have posted some more detailed information about these Mandala Silk Painting Workshops here on this site, so be sure to check it out.

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January 21, 2011 Posted by | MANDALA ART | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resist Technique – How to Put Gutta on Silk Without it Flooding

Okay, once you’ve decided which type of gutta to buy,what on earth do you do with it? Knowing how to put gutta on silk is not as easy as it looks but with a bit of practice and some useful tips, it should all start to flow a bit better.

If you’ve had a look at my post on which type of gutta to choose, then hopefully you’ve invested in some gutta that you’re happy with.

Now you may have bought a tube of gutta. In which case, all you have to do is take off the cap and start to apply it to the silk . But in actual fact, you may well find that the hole is a bit big and the gutta comes out really fast and thick which makes it difficult to control. These tubes are intended for beginners who want to just get started on some very basic patterns without worrying about finer details.

What if you want thinner lines? Well, the solution is to buy bigger bottles of gutta, small plastic bottles to refill and a set of nozzles to apply to the plastic bottles. It can be a tricky business filling the little plastic bottles but once you know how, it becomes a piece of cake.

First of all you have to match the nozzle to the plastic bottle. And this is how you do it….

You have to get a sharp pair of scissors and cut the tip off the top of the bottle. Be really careful only to cut off a small piece to start with. Next, try to fit the metal nozzle on top of the plastic. If it is still too wide, cut off another small piece. Try on the nozzle again. Do this with a twisting motion until the nozzle hugs the plastic. If it is still not perfect, slice off yet another piece of the plastic and try the nozzle again.

It’s really important to make sure you don’t chop off too much at the start as you may find that the nozzle just falls off and then you have wasted your money! So do it bit by bit.

Okay, so now the nozzle fits. And why is it so important to make sure it fits snuggly? Because when you are applying the gutta, there may be moments when you press the plastic bottle a bit too hard. This is when any badly fitting nozzle is likely to come flying off leaving you with a big puddle of gutta on your silk. And that can be rather off-putting to say the least.

Now, I’ll be perfectly honest. Your nozzle can still come flying off even if it fits perfectly. I overcome this by checking the fit every few minutes. I gently press it into place, twisting it firmly onto the bottle. But yes, I have had a few crises which ended up with a gooey mess of gutta on my beautiful masterpiece. 🙂

Right, you’ve cut the top off the plastic bottle. Now we need to fill it with gutta. And this is how you do it. Press the plastic bottle until all the air goes out of it and then hold the nib down into the gutta. Let go of the bottle and you will hear the gutta being sucked up into the plastic bottle. Now take the plastic bottle and gently bang it on the table to let the gutta settle. Repeat this procedure a few times until the bottle is at least half to three quarters full of gutta. You don’t want it to be completely full as that increases the risk of everything bursting out onto your silk.

Now you’re reading to start applying the gutta to the silk. Okay, so you are holding your bottle with the fitted nozzle in your hand, giving gentle pressure. You’re making sure that you are keeping the nozzle in contact with the silk, much the same as if you were writing your name, but with a little less pressure. An important thing to note is that you are putting pressure on the bottle itself with your thumb and forefinger so that you have an even flow of gutta. You are not pressing on the silk itself. Just maintain very gentle contact.

There is a chance that the gutta can ‘bloop’ at this point. This is when an air bubble comes out and the gutta makes a mini explosion over your silk. It can make a bit of a mess of your artwork. But you know what? This happens to me at regular intervals, too. And what do I do about it? I just make a creative feature out of it.

What do I mean by creative feature? Well, just pretend that it was meant to be that way. Turn the bloop into something that makes your design look really cool. Repeat it a few more times. Really, there are no mistakes in silk painting. Have fun and get creative.

I remember a few years ago when I was holding a workshop in Glastonbury. One very lovely participant suddenly lost her nozzle in the midst of a very creative phase. So I came over to the rescue. We made a golden butterfly out of it and added a few more for good measure. You would never have been able to tell from the result. And she was very pleased with it.

Now there is something I want to mention about resist technique. When you are drawing your lines, you want to make really sure that they stop the dye from ‘escaping’, so to speak. Hold your frame up to the light and you will be able to see easily where the weaknesses are and where the dye might be able to flow through when you begin to paint. Make sure all areas are properly closed and touch up any lines that seem a bit thin. It will be worth it when you come to apply your dyes as they will remain intact and keep the dye within its boundaries.

Have fun, then. And do let me know if you have any further questions or need any guidance on anything relating to this.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gutta For Silk Painting – What’s the Best Kind to Use?

When you’re starting out with silk painting it’s hard to know which materials to go for. Yes, there are many books and sites out there telling you which brands to go for but often they have a vested interest in promoting one over the other. So this post is just going to take a look at the pro’s and con’s of gutta for silk painting and leave the choice up to you.

I was just wondering how many of you actually know where the word gutta comes from. Well, it’s from the gutta percha tree which grows in Indonesia. The latex-like gutta from this tree was used in all sorts of industrial and medical applications

Gold gutta in plastic bottle with nib

Gold gutta in plastic bottle with nib

including the lining of golf balls. One of the types of gutta available to silk painters is solvent based and seemingly contains this gutta, which has a rubbery feel to it.

Serti or resist technique is a method used in silk painting to create boundaries which limit the free flow of silk. Gutta is applied in small bottles with nozzles on them to the silk so that it pentrates the fabric. As it dries, it hardens to form a barrier which gives form to your painting. This is my preferred method of silk painting and indeed, I wouldn’t be able to create these detailed mandalas without the resist technique.

So back to the different types of gutta for silk painting. Basically you can choose between solvent-based gutta and water-based resist. And what is the difference? Okay, let’s start with the solvent-based type. You always have to remember that when working with solvent, it’s really important to keep your working space well-ventilated. This type of gutta needs to be removed after your artwork is complete and the only way to do it is by dry-cleaning which some of you might find impractical. One big advantage is that you can paint your dyes on very quickly after applying this gutta.

The other type is water-based and technically isn’t called gutta, but resist. However, I still refer to it as gutta. What you need to watch out for is that it needs a bit longer to dry because the dyes can dissolve it a little if it is still too wet. One great way to speed up this process is to give your painting a blast with the hairdryer. I do that in my workshops so that we can get on with the colours. As to the question of dry-cleaning, this doesn’t apply to the water-based version.After you’ve fixed the dyes into your silk either by steaming or heat treatment (ironing), your can wash any clear gutta out by hand. One of the big advantages of the water-based version is that there are no fumes to contend with.

Now my preference is to use gold metallic gutta. The bad news is that you can’t dry-clean the solvent-based version. But I choose the water-based type because I want the lines to be a major feature of my finished work anyway.

However, I have had situations where I have tried to wash out gutta after I have changed my mind about the composition of my artwork. If you leave it too long, you might have a pretty hard job on your hands.

Now I wanted to address one particular point here. It is one which crops up again and again and I must admit that I have never had any difficulties with it. Many artists maintain that when they have completed their silk painting and then subsequently steam it, they never know how the finished work is going to end up because the lines tend to move and smear, letting the dyes blur at the edges.

I have never experienced this, either with iron-fixing or with steam-fixing but this appears to depend on the chosen brand.

In case you are interested in which brand I use, it is by Marabu Silk. I have used gold and silver gutta, as well as the clear version. All of these are the water-soluble types as I’m not keen on fumes and dry-cleaning.

I hope this helps. I am intending to post something on the art of resist technique itself so watch out for that soon. If you have any questions, please post them here and I’ll do my best to help out. Enjoy.

February 7, 2009 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Silk Painting at Art in Action, Slane 2008

This year I had the pleasure of attending Art in Action in Slane, which was hosted by the Irish School of Philosophy from May 31st – June 2nd 2008. . The event took place in the beautiful grounds which the school owns near Drogheda, first turn off after the Boyne Suspension Bridge travelling north on the M1.

This is an event you can take the kids to, as there is a wide variety of workshops on offer which they can take part in to let their creative streak run wild. Parents can enjoy the refreshments on offer, wander through the art and craft marquees for unusual gifts, or just relax in the sun and listen to the live music.

There was quite a busy schedule of talks being offered in the main building covering a wide range of subjects from Tai Chi to Martin Luther King, while outside the visitors were able to go from marquee to marquee and enjoy watching artists plying their craft and in many cases, they were able to try their own hand at these different forms of art.

We had a stand in one of the demonstration marquees and were able to show visitors how silk painting is actually done, as well as sell a variety of products we had on offer. It was amazing how many people were under the impression that silk painting was really ‘silk screen’ painting or printing. We spent quite a bit of time dispelling that myth, explaining that silk painting was indeed a form of painting and that silk screen printing was a printing process which was originally done with silk frames, hence the name. No further relationship between the two.

The weekend was very hot and lots of families were arriving with picnic baskets and blankets to have their lunch on the lawn and bask in the sun. It was definitely a very enjoyable event, offering a wide range of art to cater for many tastes. One of the purposes of this event is to reconnect people with hobbies they may have given up in the past or perhaps never really got round to trying out. Our experience was definitely very positive as we were able to introduce a large number of people to silk painting and inspire them to invest in a starter kit to create their own works of art at home. There was a lot of interest in the silk painting workshops we run here and so we are very grateful for all those contacts we made.

For further details and for those of you who might like to participate yourself, look up http://www.artinaction.ie.


August 16, 2008 Posted by | EXHIBITIONS | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silk Painting Mandala Workshops

MANDALA POWER: Create Your Own Personal Mandala

A Silk Painting Workshop with Fiona Stolze

Current dates available: Saturday

Venue: Bristol – details given on registration.

Time: 10am – approx. 4pm

Cost: £50 including materials. Light lunch included.

Come and join in with this day workshop of silk painting and high creativity. I will be introducing you to the concept of the mandala as a tool for focussing and calming your mind. Mandala originates from Sanskrit and means ‘mystical circle’.

Each workshop will take place in a small group and so you can be sure of lots of personal attention and guidance.

We’ll start by me sharing some basic colour information and then you will learn some basic silk painting techniques using gutta (resist), silk dyes and salt. You’ll then start to create your own personal mandala on satin silk with my help. This will be purely your own unique expression. During the day I’ll be chatting to you about colours and their different and giving you lots of hints and tips along the way. Your power mandala will reveal itself to you moment by moment: a unique piece of artwork to be treasured.

I’d like to warmly welcome both complete beginners as well as those of you who have painted on silk before. Come and participate in this workshop as no previous experience is necessary at all. The process is gentle and powerful and you will find that the vibrancy of the colours effortlessly draws out the artist within you.

I will send your artwork on to you by post after I have steam-fixed the dyes. This process lends the silk a translucent sheen and intensifies the vibrancy of the colours.

You don’t need to bring any materials with you as everything provided during this workshop. Tea, coffee and water will be available. We will take a short lunch break at around 1pm.

Pre-booking is essential.

If you’d like to register, please get in touch as soon as possible. I look forward to having you with us. 🙂

Email me at info@silkandart.com and put  Silk Painting Workshop in the subject line – thank you.

**I run regular workshops. Please leave your details with me so that I can contact you with future dates.

June 3, 2008 Posted by | MANDALA ART | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments