Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

Silk Painting with Om and Soya Wax Part 2

So here we are bringing the om design to completion. As you have probably just read in the last post (part 1), I painted the design onto the silk fabric with soya wax and then allowed it to dry.

Next I unpinned the fabric from the frame and very gently scrunched it all up so there were cracks all over the hardened wax. I then attached it again to the frame ready for the second layer of dye.

Crinkled wax ready for the next layer of dye

And what was the purpose of doing this? Well, when you apply some more dye to the picture, the dye sneaks inbetween all the cracks and creates a wonderfully textured image. So I mixed two shades of dye and then took a medium sized brush and just washed one of the colours all over the outer area and the second one on the circle. It was repelled where it met the wax, but where it got into the cracks, it reached the silk beneath, adding more colour to it in a lovely pattern.

If you are doing this yourself at home make sure you take time at this stage to use some cotton swabs and dab away all the pearls of dye sitting on top of the wax. The reason for this is that, if you don’t, it will all seep through onto the silk when you come to the ironing stage. So just take a few minutes and very carefully wipe it all off.

The second layer of dye painted over the wax

Okay, so far so good. Now you need to be a bit patient and wait for the new layer of dye to thoroughly dry before you can start to remove the wax. With other techniques it’s possible to use the hairdryer to speed things up, but since we are working here with hardened wax, I wouldn’t recommend it.

Alright, now the dye has dried you can begin to iron out the soya wax. You can use some newspaper for this. Put a few sheets on your ironing board, lay the silk on top and then put a few sheets of paper on the top of the fabric. I use a relatively hot iron and just start to push it back and forth over the paper. Soon you will see the wax melting through. Just keep going until you have removed as much as you can. You might want to replace the sheets of paper with clean ones if a lot of wax is coming off.

At this point a lot of the wax will have come out but the silk will still feel quite stiff. When you steam your fabric, you will find that a lot more comes out onto to the steaming paper. But the silk still doesn’t feel super soft. So just fill your sink with some warm water and add a dash of gentle shampoo. This will remove the last remains of the wax. Rinse until the water is clear.

Completed picture with gold gutta embellishment

I ironed my silk dry and then pinned it once again onto the frame. You can see the results of what I did next. I outllined lots of the interesting shapes and edges with gold gutta, giving it quite a mystical look. Then I ironed the gutta into the fabric. The silk is really vibrant but the turquoise doesn’t show up nearly as well in this photo as it does here in my workshop.

I love the final look of this piece and have yet to decide what I would like to do with this piece of work. I’m sure I’ll come up with something fitting. So now it’s your turn. Why not have a go. I’d love to see what you make if you do try it out. Be sure to send me a picture. Have fun!

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September 23, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

Painting on Silk with Soya Wax Part 1

I’ve been having a bit of fun over the past 24 hours playing with my latest toy – a kilo bag of soya wax pellets. 🙂

You know what it’s like when other people are having a discussion on a thread about their experiences with something that you have no idea about. You’re just dying to join it but can’t. Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I was reading about the fun some of my fellow silk painters were having on a forum that we meet up on.

They were all experimenting with soya wax and silk, something which I had never tried. Until now, that is.

Those of you who follow my blog will probably know that I have a preference for low toxicity when I paint on silk as my health is

soya wax fiona stolze silk painting

Soya wax pellets for silk painting

really of utmost importance. So whenever I hear of products that are healthy options, I always open my ears wide and pay attention. There is no need whatsoever to expose yourself to harmful chemicals when painting on silk. It’s always down to choice.

You can imagine my delight when I read all about soya wax. It was just perfect. First of all, it melts at a lower temperature than other waxes. There are no fumes coming off it, so no worries about breathing in anything that could make you feel unwell. And when you want to remove it from the fabric, you put newspaper top and bottom and iron it well. The remains will come out on the paper when you steam your silk and then when you wash it afterwards.

That puts it top of the league for me.

The only thing was, that it was slightly harder to find than the normal batik wax. I eventually found a supplier that sold candle-making supplies and had all sorts of unusual waxes, including rapeseed. Now that’s something I’d love to look into at a later point. I was able to buy a kilo bag of pellets at quite a reasonable price – £5.99 plus shipping.  So do be wary of just buying in the first shop you find. You shouldn’t have to be paying a lot just because it comes in dinky little bags.

soya wax fiona stolze silk painting

Silk painting with crinkled soya wax

So how do you use it? I put a metal bowl inside a saucepan with a little water and turned on the heat. I added a desertspoonful of the pellets and slowly stirred them until they had melted and we were ready to go. They recommend 45 degrees for candlemaking, but as I was advised, you have to make sure the wax is hot enough to penetrate the silk.  When this is the case, the silk looks sort of transparent and just glides on.

I found it very easy to apply using a brush. Once I got the hang of it, it was really enjoyable.

Afterwards you just leave it to dry and then you have the option of crinkling it so that you get cracks in the surface. When you apply the next layer of dye, the colour will seep through the cracks and give a lovely effect. Another tip I was given here was that you should take a piece of paper towel and carefully dab the pearls of dye away from the wax surface otherwise these will go into the silk when you try to iron the wax out later.

Well, I’ve been playing with my soya wax and have created my first ‘masterpiece’. It has been fun and I have already learned some useful things which will help me to make the next piece even better. These first pictures show you a bit of what I’ve been doing. The silk is due to be steamed either tonight or tomorrow morning. I’ll be posting the final thing after that and you can hear all about what I did, step by step, in putting it all together. It’s much easier than it looks and doesn’t cost much to do.

I hope this has been of some help and I look forward to publish further findings.

P.S. Big thanks to my lovely friend Joanna Reid Cotter who inspired me to get going with this and who has been helping me with great tips. Check out her amazing blog. xx

August 19, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , | 4 Comments