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*All images and words copyright of Diane Dobson-Barton dba as Barton Studio 2002-2007

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Painting Silk



Silk Fabric - wash before dying to remove anything that may be in the fabric

Dye - I use a selection of Jacquard green label dyes

Coarse Salt - such as sea salt

Paint Brushes

Water Container

Paper Towels

Plate To Use As A Palette.




Bowl for Vinegar Water



White Paper

Small Wooden Picture Frame - Large enough to fit around your design with 2-3 inches to spare - see images for example.

Double-Faced Tape

Rubber Gloves / Apron

Gutta Resist

Gutta Applicator Bottle With Tip - For Drawing

I do not have connections with Jacquard Company, beyond thinking they have wonderful products.  Such as a wonderful dye that is readily available from a variety of companies such as Dick Blick and Dharma Trading Company, at a reasonable price. There are also sets available for purchase that are ideal for the beginner.

I used a leaf for this example. Begin by tracing around the item on white paper. If you try to trace around it directly onto t he silk, the leaf will slip around and this helps to prevent that added frustration.

*** It is important that all the shapes are 'Closed' and nothing is left open.  Do not use sketchy lines, but instead a solid line as shown in the example. ***


FYI This is the same leaf I used for the Discharging-Dye project :0)

Place the tracing directly underneath the silk.  Tape both the drawing and the silk into place.

Lightly trace the lines onto the silk with a graphite pencil.  The word here is 'lightly'.

Put a strip of double faced tape around the back edges of the frame.  Remove the exposed side of the tape once it is all stuck into place.

Lay the silk on top of the frame and gently, gently stretch the silk into place over the frame.

They do make frames for stretching silk, but this is an easier way, for small projects in particular.

Gutta resist is similar to a rubber cement.  But the product made by Jacquard is water soluble.

Fill up your bottle only part way.  I find it easier to only pour out only a small amount at a time into the smaller bottle, to prevent waste. A little goes a long way, and if you find you need more later you can always pour more. Think of maple syrup, and that is the texture of the gutta.  I prefer to not try and pour it back in to he larger bottle.


Practice with the gutta on paper or small piece of fabric before trying on your design. Cover the sketch lines with a thin line of the gutta resist.

It dries quickly, so you can go directly into the next step. I have seen people also apply the gutta to the backside to prevent any dye from 'blooming' through, but this silk is very thin and I did not see it was necessary. But keep that in mind when using heavier silks. .

Make sure you have clean clear water and your dyeing colors chosen and set out in front of you. The dye colors the fabric quickly, and reacts much like watercolor does.

Put a bit of your chosen colors out on a palette.  This will prevent contaminating your colors by accidentally putting a dirty brush into a bottle of dye.

Jacquard Colors Used For Leaf:





Using your paint brush in water only, fill in the leaf pattern.  This will not only work as a way to check to make sure the gutta is applied correctly to prevent bleeding, but also helps give the dye a more fluid appearance.

Begin applying the dye one at a time. If you have never done this before the vibrancy will amaze you. I know it does me every time!

Continue on applying the colors in a way that appeals to you.

For an added interest I added a bit of course salt to the surface of the leaf.  The salt will create a crystal like appearance when the surface is dry.

I wanted the final image to be very vibrant so I chose a couple more dyes for the outer areas.  The areas attached to the tape will have a different look then the other.  Usually I do not like the look but with this one I knew I would probably be cutting it off anyway.

Sit the dyed fabric in a safe place, free from pets, or high traffic areas, and allow it to dry overnight. 

Once the silk is dry rinse it in a solution of vinegar water (2 Tablespoons of vinegar in 2-3 cups of distilled water) with continual agitation.  Note: Use fresh 'Vinegar Water' for rinsing each project.

Rinse the silk with cool tap water and squeeze out excess moisture.

Place scarf on a dry towel and iron to remove wrinkles.

The goal for the dyed leaf is to use it with other dyed silks and create a companion piece for the Discharged Dye Wall Hanging.


And this all there is to it! Once you master the technique you can use all sorts of things to create silk paintings.

Use your drawings to create interesting items to use in your altered works, garments, or quilts!

The last image is of a couple of the silk paintings of frogs I created for my daughter.  I had not sewn silk before, so I was nervous about trying it.  But I loved the images and wanted to use them in a project, but one I was confident in creating.

So, I scanned them on a flatbed scanner and printed out onto treated cotton fabric.  This is a great way to create a series of images to use in ATC or gifts.


Dick Blick

Dharma Trading Company