How To Paint A Silk Scarf

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When my friend Linda showed me how to dye my own scarves last Friday, I had to take it a step further, and the next day I painted my first scarf.  I’m going to explain the process so you can try it too!  It takes some effort, but is well worth it.

Equipment used:

  • Blank Silk Scarf – 8mm Habotai 11″x 60″
  • Setasilk Silk Paints – These are very fluid and look more like inks or dyes, but are actually paints.
  • Paintbrush – Golden Taklon size 10 or 12 (anything you would use for watercolors as these paints act very much like watercolors)
  • Masking Tape
  • Silk Pins
  • Homemade Frame – 1/2″ PVC pipe cut to length and width of scarf, plus an extra 2″ border allowance.  My frame measured 15″ x 64″.  Don’t forget to get elbows for the corners!
  • Non-iodized Sea Salt (optional)
  • Small spray bottle of water
  • Silkpaint! brand water-soluble resist (clear)
  • Mild detergent (i.e. Woolite)

All specialty supplies purchased from www.DharmaTrading.com

How to:

  • First put together your frame.  I put mine on a large easel in my studio so it would be easier to work with, and also wrote the length of each side on the pipe for future reference.  It is easy to store if you take it apart afterwards.
  • Tear off a strip of masking tape and fold over the tip of both ends so that you have a non-sticky area to work with.
  • Pin one end to the scarf, placing the tape beneath and pinning from the top.  Check to be sure your scarf is face-up (you can tell by the rolled edges).
  • Wrap the other end of the tape to the frame.
  • Continue until you have all sides taped to the frame.  It is important to put enough tape tabs on the scarf so that you can put tension into the scarf.  You don’t want to paint on a saggy surface.
  • Adjust the tension in each tab so that the entire scarf is taut. 
Blank Scarf Attached To The Frame

Blank Scarf Attached To The Frame – These frames can take up quite a bit of space. I’m glad I had an easel to rest mine on.

  • If you are going to use a resist this is a good time to apply it.  I added black dye to my clear resist so I could see where it had been applied on the silk.
Painted with resist.

Painted with resist.

  • Next I put some color inside the shapes protected by the resist.
    First application of color.

    First application of color.

  • Before painting the background I lay the frame horizontally so the colors wouldn’t drip down and off the silk. I then painted the background by first spraying it with a mist of water, then applying the paint with the paint brush.  At this time if you want to use the salt for adding beautiful textures to the color, sprinkle it on the damp paint.
  • Let it all dry.  It should do so pretty quickly.
  • Remove the pins from the  scarf and put in the dryer for about 5 minutes to set the paint.
  • Wash the scarf in a mild detergent (I used Woolite).  You can wash it by hand but I put it in a lingerie bag then washed it in the washing machine for a very short cycle.  (I used fabric softener too – not sure if you should, but I like it).
  • Once it finishes the spin cycle, or is just slightly damp if you hand-washed and hung it to dry, iron it dry using an iron on the ‘silk’ setting.

Voila!  You now have a beautiful, one-of-a-kind work of art to wear.  I’ve already received several compliments while wearing it (though I don’t always tell the person that I made it.) 

If you’re like me you’ll be looking for any opportunity to wear your luxurious new scarf!  Please send pics if you decide to try this – I’d love to see your creations!

When the resist washes out it leaves the original color behind.

When the resist washes out it leaves the original color behind.

There are so many cute ways to wear a scarf.  I bought a book called "How To Tie A Scarf - 33 Styles" to get some ideas.

There are so many cute ways to wear a scarf. I bought a book called “How To Tie A Scarf – 33 Styles” to get some ideas.

Close up where you can see resist and the effect of the sea salt.

Close up where you can see resist and the effect of the sea salt.

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