silk painting class preparation

i’m gong to be teaching a class on silk painting when i go to iceland this summer, and here is the description and the list of things i need to organize and learn about before i go.

this class is important in its emphasis on starting from the basics. most silk painters use premixed bottles of dye, resist, and other materials, and i’m going with the starving artist philosophy and mixing up everything that i can. part of the reason for this is because import restrictions and weight restrictions are onerous, and if i ship the raw materials then i won’t have to be bringing heavy bottles of liquids with me. also, supplies for silk painting are thin on the ground in iceland, so it behooves everybody to learn how to work from raw materials. plus, i’m a cheap artist, and hate giving my money to companies that offer convenience at a price.

introduction to silk painting, 2 days

day 1, morning.

cheshire cat color chart

mixing up dyes, water-based resist, sugar syrup

make pattern

draw resist lines

day 1, afternoon

dye color chart

day 2, morning.

dragon scarf

steam color chart

make pattern

draw resist lines, sugar syrup resist

dye scarf, salt texture

day 2, afternoon

wash out color chart

steam dragon scarf


here’s the course description:

This is an introductory 2-day workshop on silk painting. We will cover the basics of silk painting, including direct painting with the watercolor technique, painting inside resist lines with the serti technique, painting an ombre (or gradation of colors), and the use of textures (salt and sugar).

On the first morning, we will work on making color chart scarves. We will learn how to mix up the necessary chemicals, including water based resist and sugar syrup, and we will copy a pattern and apply resist lines to our scarves.

On the first afternoon, we will color in our color chart scarves.

On the second morning, we will steam our color chart scarves. Then we will start on our second scarves, copying the pattern and resist lines for dragon scarves. Building on our skills, these scarves will used more advanced techniques, such as salt and sugar resists and textures.

In the afternoon, we will wash out our color chart scarves, and fix the dragon scarves using a variety of fixing techniques.

This class is open to everyone, and is appropriate for the absolute beginner as well as the professional artist who wants to learn a new skill.


here’s the supply list, coded

A is for items i will be bringing

B. is for items i hope to buy in iceland

C. is for items that need to be built or found

A. calgon water softener (chemical)

A. colored resist

A. dye powder, cmyk (chemical)

A. eye droppers

A. large and small sumi brushes

A. metal applicator tips

A. patterns

A. pins

A. plastic applicator bottles for resist and syrup (large and small)

A. plastic egg cartons

A. silk clips

A. silk scarves

A. soda ash (chemical)

A. sodium alginate (chemical)

A. sponge brushes

A. synthrapol detergent (chemical)

A. thiox fabric bleach (chemical)

A. urea (chemical)

B. blank newsprint

B. kraft paper

B. masking tape

B. measuring cups

B. measuring spoons

B. paper towels

B. plastic garbage bags

B. rubbing alcohol (chemical)

B. salt

B. sharpies

B. sugar

B. white vinegar (chemical)

B. wire coat hangers

C. light table

C. microwave

C. pressure cooker

C. rice steamer

C. stovepipe steamer

C. stretcher bars


i need to figure out if i can source items marked B and C locally, and intend to ship items marked A.


things i need to do before the class

figure out and test the use of mx dyes in liquid form

test dye handling (vinegar presoak, soda ash) and textures

figure out how to steam set the same day as the item is dyed

explore steaming alternatives



rice steamer

pressure cooker

soda ash

explore sodium alginate alternatives

wheat paste

rice paste

fish glue???

prepare blog posts and handouts

figure out how to make sodium alginate

see about local availability of items marked C

find out if we can get chemicals locally

i need to order at least 2 dozen scarves and brushes, more silk clips, more chemicals


so, if you’re interested in taking this course in july of 2014, please contact listhus i fjallabyggd for more information.


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