Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Silk Painting

Final post about my family reunion, I promise. :) But silk painting was cool enough that it definitely merited a post all to itself.

In a nutshell, silk painting is where you take a piece of silk and paint a design onto it. The Estes Park craft cabin had tons of designs they had created that you could choose from, or if you were really ambitious you could draw your own. Being not-so-artistically-inclined in the drawing realm, we opted for an abstract design they had on display (abstract so that, as Nathan said, if we messed up nobody could tell).

Once we chose a design, we got our piece of silk (11"x60" I believe) stretched onto a wooden frame, and we began tracing the design with this liquid wax substance called resist.

Drawing the pattern with the resist.

It was a two person job. Well, it could have been one person but it went much faster with two...

Next, we had to let it dry for about an hour. It was conveniently lunch time, so that worked out well. Then came the fun part: painting it.

Here it is about a third of the way into it. Nathan's side is on the bottom of the picture, and I'm working on the other end.

There are a few different techniques you can use during the painting process, but it's pretty straightforward for the most part. You can either put the fabric dye onto dry silk for a deeper, richer color (but it's harder to get it even), or get the silk wet first and then paint it for a more even paint job but not as deep colors. We mostly did wet painting, because that also allowed you to do cool techniques like making gradients where the colors shaded from one to another.

We kind of went crazy with gradients. But they were really awesome. You can see my sister's in the background too; it looked absolutely amazing when it was finished!

The last technique we utilized was salt - if you put table salt or rock salt on the paint before it dries, the salt sucks up some of the paint and makes cool patterns (big ones with rock salt, and small ones with table salt). We used rock salt primarily on the black background to add some fun textures (and disguise our uneven paint job). It ended up looking very cool. In fact, the guys working in the silk painting room kept coming over to see how it was coming and exclaiming over how sweet it was. (One said it would make an awesome cover to a Coldplay album.)

Once it dried, the silk painting guys washed out the resist for us, and it was ready to display!

The lighting is not doing the colors justice at all. Oh well. They're much more vibrant in person.

Though we would have loved to hang it in a window, there weren't really any that would have worked well in our basement apartment. :) So we opted to hang it over the entryway connecting the living room to the rest of the apartment instead. I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. I did the side on the left, and Nathan did the side on the right, and miraculously the two sides mesh very well. It was more fun for me doing it together with Nathan than it would have been doing two smaller ones separately, especially since it allowed us to get a bigger project done in a decent length of time. (It probably took about 3 hours for us to make, 4 if you count the time for the resist to dry, but it was projected to take 5-7 hours if you made it singlehandedly.)

I also want to add that 3 of my nieces and sister also made silk paintings of their own, and they all turned out lovely. I wish I had pictures of the final products for each of them to show you how talented they all are.

So final verdict: I'm glad Nathan convinced me to do this with him rather than make some jewelry, which I do at home anyway. Hooray for trying new things!


  1. I love where you put it! The colors are more vibrant in person, but they look great in the photo too!

  2. That looks way fun. Sounds like you guys had a good time.