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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Friday, 13 August 2010
I thought I would share some of the process for creating my painted silks~ since I had a camera + camera card, together in the same room (a rare treat!).

I begin by stretching the silk on the frame.  The claws are placed in the hem/ selvege area and the frame is stretched to the desired tautness for painting.  As the silk gets wet, some tightening is required to keep it stretched.  In this case it is a 35" square habotai piece.
 Exciting picture, huh?
Actually, it is! Really (yes, I am a geek)~ it is all POSSIBILITY at this point.
I generally stretch the silk once I have a concept in mind.
I have always been a poor draw-er, I am far better with a paintbrush (or a bottle of gutta) than with a pencil, but the concept drawing lets me get my proportions and spacing in mind (the hardest part of drawing/ painting for me). 
This design is what I would consider to be an 'art piece' ~perfectly fine for play, but more likely for display or decor.  When a piece is made for play, I use the same principles as I use with wool playscapes: lots of open space for play and simple, thematic illustrations to spark the imagination but still allow the child to lead (as below).
Once the silk is stretched and the concept is live, I prepare my resist.  With the intention of avoiding both the chemical nature of true gutta AND the need to dry clean each finished piece (more chemicals!), I choose to use a water based resist.  The purpose of the resist is just that~ to resist the flow of the ink/dye/paint and keep it where you want it to be. This resist comes out with soap and water.

One of the challenges of working in this medium is plotting out the placement of each element so that you draw your resist lines appropriately to allow the foreground bits to take their place without interference from the background~ the resist lines will remain after the piece is finished, so they must be placed carefully (or artfully hidden!).  Here is the resist rendering of the concept:
Getting all that hair and body parts in the same place can be tricky.  I remember a critic saying that Disney's Pocahontas should have included star billing for Pocahontas' hair which was quite a work of animation, and this mermaid reminded me of that comment!

Once the resistis completely dry, it is time to paint!  I love the flow and blending of colour on silk~ it is really lovely to see.  And while it obeys all the usual rules of blending and mixing, it also moves so freely that it still holds many surprises! Rather than the silk just being that which is 'done to' it is an organic part of the doing. Geek. I know!

I choose to use the 'open' face style found in Waldorf dolls and toys.  I am used to it, although I know it sometimes throws people for a loop.   I findfaces daunting.  And whether in paint, wool or on silk, I find that the mind's eye will do a better job of picturing the face than my brush or needle.  The Waldorf tradition uses open faces to allow the child to imagine the emotion and expression as they play.

Each area is filled in, using various techniques to colour and shade as needed. I always leave final colour decisions to be made as the work unfolds and I can look for balance and focus and so on.

Once the piece is finished I leave it to dry completely.  As ou can see on this piece (still in the frame) the general finished appearance is apparent, but the final details will show once the piece is heat set and the resist is removed, leaving negative space which in some cases here pictured, is covered in paint.
 So... heat set, wash with soap and warm water, press. And then I can take some final photographs. ♥


Sunshine Mama said...

This is so interesting to see how it's done! And also SO beautiful!!

Sycamore Moon Studios said...

How lovely! I haven't done silk painting for years...I may have to pull out my gear! Cheers!

張王雅竹欣虹 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!.. ...............................................................

FairiesNest said...

I love to see the work behind the finished piece. Wonderful post and beautiful end result!

The Sitting Tree said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing~

守何何何韋 said...


momma rae said...

oh thank you for sharing this process. it is fascinating to see how these stunning works come to life! ;)

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