Inspired Art and Living with Fiona Stolze

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.

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September 5, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can I Mix Iron Fix Paints and Steam Fix Dyes…???

Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions I get asked. It’s really important to know what you can and cant’ do with silk paints and dyes so it’s good that this question has been raised yet again as it can’t be said often enough.

So what is the answer? Well, it’s yes and no. Depending on what you are doing.

First of all, a quick definition of what iron fix paints are. They are bottles of paints for the hobby silk artist, made of pigments. You apply them with your brush, dilute them with water and fix them using a warm/hot iron from the reverse for 3 minutes. The paints sit on top of the fabric, leaving a matt finish. The silk loses some of its softness and sheen.

The steam fix dyes are acid-based, can be diluted ad infinitum and are steam fixed so that they bond with the silk, allowiing the fabric to retain its silky sheen and drape.

So basically the paints give you a quick fix. 🙂 If you dont’ have a steamer, or someone who can steam for you, then you need to opt for these.

And can you combine the two types? If you are painting with the acid-based dyes and then steam them, it is possible to add some iron fix paints afterwards which you would then iron to fix. So create your artwork with the dyes, steam it, and then add highlights with some favourite iron fix paints but don’t put it near the steamer, whatever you do!

What you musn’t do is paint with both the iron fix paints and the acid-based dyes and then try to steam the silk. This will just get really messy. And ruin your artwork into the bargain. The paints cannot bond with the silk and so leak all over the paper and down through the layers.  They will also leak over your artwork and mess it up. You will get pale and blotchy patches where the paint was originally applied.

And remember that you cannot iron steam fix dyes into the silk. They will wash out in water as I found out much to my surprise in the very early days.  I had a couple of bottles of what I thought was paint. I lovingly painted a picture and carefully ironed it for 3 minutes, thinking I was fixing the colours. When I held it under the tap, a constant stream of vibrant colour gushed out of the silk and rushed down the plughole. Lesson learnt.

Please always check at your supply store what you are buying. Read the bottle label or ask for assistance in buying the right kind if you are unsure.

And don’t worry if things do go wrong. It happens to us all.  And you won’t be so quick to do it again so it’s a very effective way oflearning.

Happy painting. 🙂

June 10, 2010 Posted by | SILK PAINTING TECHNIQUES | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

And This is What the Fuchsia Top Looks Like Now it’s Finished…

So…moving on from the last post, I’m now going to let you see how I put the final touches to the top I was making in lovely fuchsia and pink.

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Tying off a small section of silk

Now I hadn’t steamed my silk yet, so I had to be very careful in handling the top. This meant keeping it well away from anything that could cause the tiniest of bloops and mess the silk. I certainly couldn’t steam iron it to remove the creases although that would have made  applying the gutta much easier.

But before I talk about what I did, I want to share something quite funny. As my fellow silk painters will

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Capillary action of the silk dye

agree, there is often an element of surprise involved when you paint on silk. And this project was really

no exception. As you can see from the photos in the last post, I had tied a small bunch of the silk with some wool, exactly where Iwas intending to paint the gutta on after the steaming. Well,  I painted the silk and stood back to admire my work. But it was then that science took over. It’s called capillary action. And what that means is that when you create a narrow space such as a tube, a liquid can then travel up through it. My husband tells me this is an effect of the surface tension. What it basically meant for me was that the bit of silk I had wanted to stay white became pink….and so I had to rethink the next step of my painting project. 🙂

I  took out one of those bamboo hoops you can use for embroidering. I marked the exact centre and then fitted the silk in place. Now,

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Applying the gold gutta pattern

some of you may know that when you apply gutta to white silk, it penetrates the fabric creating a barrier for the dye you paint on top. However, when you

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

Applying the dye to the pattern

have already dyed the fabric, any gutta you apply will not act as a resist but sit on top as decoration. So I painted a small mandala pattern in gold gutta and let it dry. I could see that it had not fully gone through to the reverse due to the fact that it had been applied on top of the dye. This meant that it would probably leak past the lines. And I didn’t want that to happen to this lovely top.

So I had to hold my breath and mix some dye and get started. I used a very small brush so that the area in question would not be flooded and very slowly and carefully applied the dye, keeping it as dry as possible. Any leaks would also create hard edges which I definitely did not want. Time seemed to stand still as I worked the tiny brush, filling in the dye where I wanted colour…and then I was finished. Wow, not a bloop in sight. Oh, joy!!  I sat back, grinning from ear to ear, thrilled that it was now complete and that very little could go wrong now.

fiona stolze, silk painting, silkandart

The completed fuchsia silk top

Next step was the steaming, which unfolded without a hitch and then out came the finished item. I was jumping about with joy at that point, knowing that the end was very near. The next morning, after the top had lain and cooled for a night, I steam ironed it and then pinned it together at the side seams. A quick tension check on the machine and we were ready to go.

And there we were. Ready to go. These pictures document some of the steps involved and give you an idea of what was going on. It was such good fun. I always find that when I’m making something purely for pleasure,it always flows just that bit better than when I’m making something that has to turn out a specific way.

I’m going to be making some of these in different colour schemes and am planning on putting much more energy into silk wearables in the months to come. If you’d like to wear one of my creations, do get in touch.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and seeing what I’ve been up to. I promise to publish a photo of me wearing it as soon as the Bristol weather allows for it. 🙂

May 11, 2010 Posted by | PAINTINGS IN PROCESS | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Painting a Crepe de Chine Top in Nummy Fuchsia

It’s no secret that I adore fuchsia. So just recently it was particularly exciting for me to paint myself a new fuchsia top. These photos

silk painting, fiona stolze

Wet sculpted crepe de chine

here document the first few steps that I took for my creation. I decided to do without the frame and just make lots of mess on the plastic sheeting on the table.

In contrast to the orange camisole top I recently sewed and painted from scratch, I decided to use a pre-sewn ladies top for this job. This garment was sewn at the shoulders, so all I have to do is pin the sides together and sew it up when I have completed all the usual stages of painting, steaming and ironing.

The first step involved spreading the top out on the plastic and giving it a good soak. The next part is fun because I push the silk around, sculpting it into different shapes, twisting and moulding it until it sits in a way I am happy with. I then mix my dyes, or dilute them accordingly, select the brushes I’m going to use and off I go.

Once the dyes have been applied I then leave the top to lie and dry for 24 hours. You have to really make sure it’s in a safe place and can sit undisturbed without any kitties or hamsters going for a stroll and stretching out on it, or chewing on the edges for a taste. Come to think of it, you have to make sure no members of the family are likely to trip and slosh their coffee over it either…

silk painting, fiona stolze

Painting the dyes on the silk

I’m lucky in this respect as I have an attic room which other family members very rarely enter and they know that my artistic endeavours have absolute priority up there. 🙂

Okay, 24 hours have passed without any major mishaps. What next? I carefully lift up the top and shake it out to see how the colours have dried and how the patterns look. Pinks and fuchsias always look very exciting and uplifting so I can’t wait to have a look the next day after painting. I never rush to steam my work after painting. It normally spends a full day on the table or hanging before I get it ready to be steamed. This ensures it has thoroughly dried and sort of set before the next stage.

The next job was to lay out the paper and roll the top up on the pole to be steamed to fix the dyes. Normally I take care to lay the silk out really flat to ensure no creases are there as they tend to get steamed into the silk. However, the magic

silk painting, fiona stolze

Fuchsia silk top ready for steaming

fairies always help out when I do wet sculpting because I roll up the crushed silk and yet it doesn’t seem to have any effect whatsoever on the final outcome. I suppose that blows that myth straight out of the window. Ah, old habits die hard. Next time I steam, I’ll be taking ages to ensure that nothing is crushed. Talk about double standards…:-)

One thing I don’t do though is touch unsteamed silk in any way in case it gets messed. Any of you who steam silk know how easy it is to get the slightest bloop on the silk. So that is the main reason why I don’t iron any creases out when the dyes are still not fixed.

Okay, that’s as far as I’m going to go in this post. Here are the first few pictures. I’m hoping to do the second part tomorrow to let you see the last stages and the final item.

See you then.

May 9, 2010 Posted by | PAINTINGS IN PROCESS | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment