Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Hand-painted Rose, Purple, and Blue Silk Scarf

     I have almost completed 3 more hand-painted silk scarves, all 60" X 11", a nice all-purpose length to tie and wear in multiple ways. This particular scarf was painted without resist, so the dyes were free to flow. I will show you the other new scarves, which did involve using resist to create designs, in coming weeks. For a couple of other examples painted without resist, see this previous post.

Another view, same scarf
     Sometimes, I purposely allow for the unpredictable jagged edges that can form where two different colors come together (especially if one is already dry), which often create beautiful, sometimes unexpected patterns. You can see such edges in the apricot/green 21" square scarf pictured below. 

Professional fabric steamer, about 42" long
     However, I decided to minimize those kinds of edges in this design. One can achieve subtler, smoother color transitions by working very quickly and rubbing adjoining areas with a paper towel. Or, as in this design, one can work wet-on-wet, spraying the white scarf with water before adding colors. For this scarf, I painted the dyes on a wet scarf blank. I experimented with colors and techniques, intending to gradually build up colors to a darker level. Then, the softer, pale colors appealed to me, especially after my friend agreed, saying "It looks like Spring". So, I decided to declare the scarf complete. 

Example of the jagged edges resulting from painting on dry scarf with no blending
     The final step is to steam-set the colors. Many fabric dyes can be set with a steam iron, and some set instantly when painted onto fabrics. But the loveliest and most intense colors, in my view, result from the French-type silk dyes, which must be set in a steamer--either purchased or created by the artist. My generous husband gave me a professional fabric steamer for Christmas--see photo--which greatly simplifies the process (although it is still painstaking and requires several hours altogether). If any of you request more information about the steaming process, I will post more detail in the future.

     Making this scarf was fun. I had only a simple sketch with the idea of color areas and a plan for the dye colors I would use (some straight from the bottle, others mixed for the desired hue). From there, I just spread color freely on the wet silk and watched the design develop--now and then blending the areas where colors came together with a large wet brush or a paper towel. Finally, I brushed on some additional soft contrast strokes and shapes.

Question of the day: In pursuing a hobby or interest, do you prefer trying new techniques and styles or polishing and perfecting your favorite approach?