Monday, February 13, 2012

Silk Painting - Class 6

Silk just seems to have been made for shibori dyeing techniques!  For this last class in the silk painting series, we'll be using arashi shibori.  Arashi means storm in Japanese and is meant to look like a wind driven rain, so it's always done on the diagonal.  It's always reminded me of rain coming down across a window pane.

If this is your first time in the class, see Class 1 for background and the classes on the last four Mondays for a review of techniques.  For this project you'll need:
*one silk scarf, washed and ironed
*Seta-Silk paints
*artist's tape - this is a tape that's easily removable and doesn't leave behind a residue
*a resist binding - I like to use artificial sinew in shibori.  It's used in leatherworking and can be bought at various places like Hobby Lobby.
*a large, smooth cylinder, about 8 inches in diameter for the size of scarf we've been using (you want one that the scarf wraps around two or three times at the most).  PVC pipe works great, but is hard to find in that size, so I'm using a concrete form from the hardware store.

1.  Wrap the scarf around the form, diagonally ...

... and secure it with a piece of artist's tape.

2.  Secure one of the diagonal tips to the form with a piece of tape and stand the form up.  Tie the resist on at the tip, below the tape.

Remember how the name of the game with silk painting has been quick, quick, quick?  Forget all of that now!  Shibori takes time - and patience if you're in a hurry up mode.  Wrap the entire scarf with artificial sinew at about 1/4 inch intervals.  I put the sinew on something it will spin on and turn the form.  I get dizzy walking around it over and over!

3.  When you get to the tape in the middle, remove it.  When your entire scarf is wrapped, tie the sinew off over the form, not the scarf.

4.  The next part takes time - no way around it!  You want to scrunch the scarf and bindings together until it's tightly compacted.  

There are different ways to do this.  At first, you'll be able to push it down with your fingers.  When it gets difficult, I use a piece of wood that has about the same curve as the cylinder and a hammer.  If you have a plastic embroidery hoop that just fits the cylinder (the adjustable outer ring works well), you can slip it on and place the piece of wood over it and then hammer.  I have a great husband who finished this one up for me!

There are different techniques some people find makes this step easier.  You can wrap the cyclinder tightly in heavy plastic before you wrap your scarf - it's difficult for me to keep the plastic from scrunching up in the scarf, so I don't do that.  You can also scrunch the scarf as you wrap it - wrap a couple inches or so, scrunch, and keep repeating.  I have a hard time being coordinated enough to keep the wrapping lines even when I do it that way, and it's still hard for me to push the scarf down once I get a few inches scrunched.  But these techniques may work for you!

5.  Get your silk paints ready.  I'm using gray at full strength and turquoise and a blue/purple mix left over from last week's class.

 6.  You can apply the paint in any pattern you want.  I'm doing long stripes this time, but it also looks nice to do shorter stripes of different colors or to make shorter vertical stripes.  Some of the paint does soak into the concrete form, but it's a long form.  I just avoid scrunching the scarf over that spot next time.

 7.  After I had my stripes painted on, I went over the tops with the turquoise and put some purple on the gray.

8.  Let dry completely and then cut the sinew away.  You can reuse it for the next scarf.  At this point, the scarf will have these cool, tight little pleats.  Sometimes shibori is left with the form you get when removing the binding, especially if it's to be a sculptural fiber art piece. 

I want a flat scarf, though, so I ironed mine out.  A little bit of the texture still remains even after ironing, so I tend to not wash shibori scarves unless I have to!

This is our last class in the silk painting series, but now that I have the basic tutorial to refer back to, I'll be showing you how I do more of my scarves as I finish them and what I do with them afterwards.

Happy Creating! Deborah


  1. WOW! That's amazing.

  2. I want to keep the pleats. How do you heat set it? Using setasilk paints. Love your site!

    1. I have not tried this, but supposedly Setacolor can be heat set by placing in the oven at 300 degrees for 5 minutes. Since you won't be washing the scarf (the pleats will fall out), I'd think this would work pretty well! Silk really picks up greases and oils easily, though, so I'd put it on a new, unused cookie sheet with a layer of parchment paper between it and the pan. Let me know how it works!

  3. When I do Shibori, I wrap, pleat, paint, dry, un wrap, dry, iron then steam. After washing and ironing again to make it soft and shiny I simply re wrap around the pole spray it with water let it dry and you get your pleats back. I've even wrapped and pleated at craft fairs, people find it fascinating to watch it come out all pleated.

    1. How do you maintain the pleats after you get them back? Isn't steaming the scarf with the pleats the best way to set them permanently?

  4. You are very generous to share so much of your talent with those of us who lack a little bit. Thank you. I so look forward to trying every technique you have set out for us.