Seeing as I’ve been doing some beginners watercolour posts lately I thought perhaps it would be fun to do something similar with silk painting techniques. So I made a silk sampler to try out a lot of different techniques.
I’m using Opulence silk dye for this post, it’s easy to use and fixes with an iron rather than steam. I’m using clear and black gutta as well. The clear washes out with water and the black is fixed.

I’m using a small Pongee pre-hemmed silk.
It’s very thin and a bit floaty. It was one of the cheaper weights and I think I prefer the expensive heavier weight looks but I haven’t been brave enough to paint on one yet because it’s more expensive and I’m scared of ruining it >_>
The silk is stretched on my frame so it’s tight and easier to work with.
To begin with I thought I would experiment and see if I could colour the clear gutta so it would leave behind a light stain when it was washed out.
For this I used a thin brush while applying.
It did look cute but didn’t take on much of the silk dye colour.
I then applied a design around the outside using the clear gutta applicator bottle to see the difference between brush and bottle tip.
Harder to see when it’s white on white but the application is thicker but more regulated.
The black gutta has a much thinner applicator.
And it was much thicker and therefore harder to control with a small paint brush.
I divided the rest of the silk up into sections that we could try different techniques in and left it to dry.
For the silk paint I used a larger brush.
This particular dye can be diluted and effected with water while the gutta acts as a barrier.
The first technique I tried was wetting the fabric first and then applying the dye. It gave a very light colour and it was harder to spread the dye as the fabric was already full of water.
I managed to go over the lines on the first damn one too >_>
You can see how much brighter and more even it is on dry fabric.
I then did a gradient effect on wet and dry fabric. The dry fabric was brighter but the wet fabric seemed like a smoother gradient.
Time to experiment with salt now! This is dry fabric with dye and then salt sprinkled on top. The salt sucks up the water and the dye moving it around to make interesting effects.
Once it’s totally dry it looks like this:
Salt on pre-wet fabric didn’t create as sharp an effect but it made more of a fluid pattern.
Close up of the salt on dry fabric:
Close up of salt on wet fabric:
In the top left square on wet fabric I painted a green base and then put little yellow spots. The bottom right was the same thing but on dry fabric. They look much of a muchness.
I then gave painting stripes a try. First on wet fabric where it was kind of successful.
Then on dry fabric where the dye just spread and blended into itself.
I blended red and purple together on wet fabric and the gradient was very smooth but the colours were dull.
Blending while wet looked much more vibrant but the blended area was lighter.
And that was the full sampler, so time to seal it and then wash it out and see how things turned out.
I sealed with an iron as usual.
Then washed the gutta out.
You can see all of the clear gutta has been removed and left clean white silk below it.
The gutta I tried to colour didn’t leave any colour behind so it’s back to the drawing board on that one.
Now here are some close ups of some of the different areas and techniques.
So, a fun way to give everything a try! I would definitely suggest doing one of these to test out techniques if you’re starting out with silk painting. It was good to see how the paint reacted to different surfaces and treatments. Now I can apply all of this experimenting to real painting later! Fun 😀
Hope you guys found this useful and let me know if you’re silk painting too, I’d love to be inspired by what you guys are up to!