Back in February, I showed some beautiful hand painted silk scarves that I helped my daughter and her friend make for their teacher. A few people asked me for more specifics on how we did it–probably thinking to make a Mother’s Day gift. I’m so sorry that I missed Mother’s Day, (I didn’t have enough pictures) but perhaps this tutorial will come in handy for special birthdays or even for the holidays. Here’s how to make a hand painted silk scarf:
* hemmed silk scarf (I buy mine from Dharma Trading Company–see note below)
* silk paint (I buy these from Dharma also–see note below)
* paint brushes
* cups of water (to rinse brushes in and to dilute dyes to desired colors)
* old ice cube tray, muffin tin or several small cups (for paint)
* paper towels (for blotting and testing color)
* plastic covering (for table–I just use large trash bags)
SCARF: I buy my scarves hemmed and ready to dye. They’re fairly inexpensive–about $3 each. I’ve found that 8″ x “72″ is a good standard size. (8″ x 54″ is a little too short) If you’re ambitious and good with a sewing machine, you can make your own undyed scarves out of any silk–habotai, crepe de chine or even silk chiffon. Silk habotai is the easiest to paint on and so if you’re working with kids, I would definitely use habotai.
SILK PAINT: I’m a creature of habit and use the same silk paints that I used 20 years ago when I took my first silk scarf class. I find that they produce vibrant color and a soft texture when dry. The “problem” with these dyes is that they need to be steamed to fix the dye to the silk. There are newer silk paints that only require a hot iron to fix the dye. Although I haven’t tried these newer paints, if you’re working with a larger group of kids, I would definitely give them a try.
1) PREPARE WORK SPACE: Cover a long table with plastic, lay out blank scarves, set out cups of water and ice cube tray (for paint)
2) PREPARE PAINTS: Although I usually let kids pick any color combination in other projects (because they have an innate ability to beautifully combine color), silk absorbs paint quickly and I’ve found it’s better to give them choices of color “stories” like “rainbow primary colors”, “jewel tones”, “shades of purple and green”, etc. to keep the colors from becoming “muddy looking”.
Start with a small amount of paint (a teaspoon or two) in a container like an old ice cube tray or muffin tin–a little goes a long way.
The silk paint is very dark and saturated and sometimes it’s hard to tell one color from another. If you need to, label the colors after you pour them or just place the bottles in back of the containers for identification–like above.
3) PAINTING: Working with one color at a time, start at one end of the scarf and begin painting. Saturate the silk completely and make sure to saturate the rolled hem.
4) BLOT EXCESS PAINT: Very important! As you finish painting one section of the scarf, make sure to gently lift the scarf and blot the excess paint left on the plastic. If you don’t do this, the paint will potentially bleed over other parts of your scarf if it is moved.
5) DRY: After you’ve completed painting, lay your scarf carefully on paper to dry completely.
6) STEAMING TO SET THE DYE: Now you’re ready to steam! Using a porous paper like masking paper (above–from the hardware store’s paint department), butcher paper, or even OLD (at least 6 weeks old to make sure the ink is completely dry) newspaper, lay our enough paper so that there is 2 inches on each side. Cover with more paper to sandwich the scarf in between.
7) ROLL THE SCARF AND PAPER INTO A BUNDLE: Start at one end and carefully roll
8) MAKE A “BUNDLE”: Using masking tape, close the rolled up scarf and then roll the scarf/paper in the opposite direction to make a little “bundle”. Using a little more masking tape, secure it so that it resembles a cinnamon roll.
9) CONFIGURE YOUR STEAMER: Use an asian steamer, or any other type of steaming apparatus that will keep your scarf bundle HIGH safely ABOVE any boiling water. Put several inches of water in the pot and bring it to a boil. Place your scarf “bundle” in your steamer and close the lid tightly. I put a thick layer of butcher paper, a kitchen towel , the lid and then a heavy cast iron skillet on top to ensure a tight seal to keep all of the steam in.
10) STEAM FOR 30 MINUTES.
11) REMOVE LID AND COOL SCARF: Cool enough so that you can handle the scarf and rinse it in cool water to remove any excess dye that there might be.
12) HANG YOUR BEAUTIFUL SCARF OUT TO DRY: When dry, touch up with a steam iron.
My niece was visiting this week and she wanted to make a hand painted scarf for her Mom. We did some batik and it turned out to be a gorgeous scarf! I’ll put together another tutorial on how to do batik in your silk scarf painting and unlike before, I promise it won’t take me so long to do it!