Last weekend I tried out yet another technique: silk painting. There are some blank walls in my parents’ house at the coast, and my mom and I agreed that flowing silk tapestries would add some cheer. My mom is also a watercolor artist, and I think she could come to like the French Serti technique.
New projects mean new supplies, and I ordered the habotai silk, colors, resists, and applicators from Dharma Trading Company and used canvas stretcher bars with rubber bands and safety pins as a frame. The frame is so huge because it is made for the wall hangings we hope to eventually do. Apologies for the dark photos…I was painting early in the morning and most of the light was coming through a small window in the laundry room.
As a first try, I wanted to test the brightness and saturation of as many of the Setasilk starter colors as I could. My mom suggested fish because they are so colorful, and I did a quick sketch of some bettas in a watercolor pencil. I then applied clear resist through a nib onto the pencil lines and let them dry overnight. Next time I may dilute the resist, because my hand started to shake from having to squeeze the bottle so hard. “Serti” refers to a fence or border, and resist prevents paint or dye from jumping over into other areas.
I had very little idea of how the painting process was supposed to work, but found watching the paint expand to fill the sections mesmerizing. I can understand why people do silk painting as a form of meditation, but like watercolor, you have to pay attention to the wetness of the fabric, how you layer colors, etc. I based two fish on photos of show-quality bettas (a halfmoon and a crowntail), and the blue one is my favorite fish and beautiful double tail boy, Pansy.
The next morning, I heat set the paint with an iron and removed the resist with a mild detergent in water. I was impressed at how little color washed out and I admit I danced around with the silk scarf once it was dry. Next time I will use a piece of silk that lends itself to framing, because I had a devil of a time finding a frame and then had to cut a mat to make up for the size difference.