Project: bellydancing veil of helix nebula

i have taken practically forever to get around to a project i’m doing for a friend. sorry, asha.

asha is a belly-dancer of great renown. i recently offered to paint her a veil to dance with, and she immediately came back with the eye-of-god nebula, aka the helix nebula ngc7293 .

a silk veil. hmmm. now that i’ve finally gotten round to it, i am somewhat daunted.

i’m going to be working on a piece of silk that’s 4 ft x 9 ft.

the stretching and painting logistics give me the shakes. and how am i going to put a vast area of black dye down without horrible streaking and edging? we’re talking about 3+ square yards here – and putting the dye on all at once. jim’s solution (mask off the nebula and use a spray bottle full of black dye) – brilliant.

to begin wih, i don’t know how to do a nebula in silk paint. i don’t know what characteristics make something a nebula instead of a supernova, say. so i went to the hubble site and had a look at their gallery.

i have a glimmer of a clue how i’m going to execute this on silk with dyes. the only place i’m going to use regular water-based gutta is for the fixed stars. so i go thru and put dots of various sizes all over an 11×60 habotai scarf. my supplier is dharma. if i was being really realistic, i would first paint some red or blue or yellow and let it dry before dotting the area with gutta. then we’d get colored stars.

i’m going to use sugar syrup resist for the nebula. the places where it’s white i’ll draw onto the white and smudge or water down. the places where the nebula is reddish i’ll paint first with an orange and then lay down the karo.

and i’ll use salt for both the star field and for litle varations within the nebula.

the rest is a matter of figuring out how to get what effects, and how to end up with the right colors.

so i’ve done a dozen or so nebula scarves in the past week or so, as many as my poor tired back wil let me.

step one is to draw the nebula. these pictures were taken in my studio and show little bitty dots of water-based gutta for stars, and great jaggy circles of karo sugar syrup for the nebula

i’ve come back in with a brush full of water to smudge out those syrup lines.. the gray is really just watery syrup, and the dark is fully concentrated syrup. the sugar lines willl dry in hours to a shiny, soft clear, and the scarf will rustle like paper.

the inner circle resist is on the white sillk. the outer circle is on top of a yellow-orange swath of dye i’ve just put down. this way, the outer circle will be yellowish, and the inner ones will be white, because the syrup covers and resists application of dye. and when you add dye or clear water, you’re breaking thru the line of syrup, so the dyes will flow and etch in wonderful ways.

here is the scarf being worked on in the studio. i’m afraid the image has been reversed. i haven’t yet finished messing with the nebula colors.. they’re still mostly damp.

the tail ends of most of the scarves have the milky way on them, done in salt. it looks a lot more impressive with the salt than with the effect.

detail of the milky way. i’ve put the black on all at once, using a huge sponge brush. then blue and red got charged in there, and then salt sprinkled on for background stars. i stuck a bunch of salt in a double line where the milky way runs.

the salt is supposed to draw the color, leaving streaks and dark bits. when you use enough salt to melt a slug with black dye you get gray streaks and very faint darks. i want more than that, so i’m going to have to rethink.

this is two scarves ready for steaming. the top picture is the same scarf as we’ve been talking about, but turned over.

here is one, finished, yet still to be steam set. the syrupy areas are where there’s a certain graying of color – the yelow grayness in the southeast quadant right inside he red. that’s syrup, and the dyes will likely wash out when it’s set and rinsed.

i’ve put down dyes – mostly the primaries: lemon yelow, cyan, magenta. except that the magenta is way too cool so it’s been thoroughly fired up with loads of yellow aleady. i put down the dyes and then add clear water, making sure to violate the resist lines whenever possible. then i sprinkled salt on the darker nebula bits.

you can see where the blue has cut right thru the gray sugar resist line, especially at the top. but don’t these complete accidents just make the whole nebula effect? the happy accident. i’m always preaching this to students.

here is another first step, on a different scarf. you can’t see any flo of dye with the syrup because i put the dye on first. you can see a little flow of syrup out into the wet dyed area, tho.

this is the same scarf after dyeing. (but before steaming. it’ll look different when it’s been fixed and washed) i like the little blobs, but maybe in not so much of a pattern. i’ve seen similar little blogs in nebula clouds. i also really like what the salt has done to the outsie edges.

this was with a lot of salt, and a lot of flooding of the resist lines with water.

detail of the preceding scarf (a little fuzzy).


3 thoughts on “Project: bellydancing veil of helix nebula

  1. Hi, I wanted to ask if it would be possible to purchase a veil from you? Please get in touch; I could not find a place to contact you.

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