Painting on silk is similar to riding a bicycle without brakes. The dye races uncontrolled toward disaster unless you know what you are doing and most of the time, I don’t. Master silk painter, Kerry Cline, began to teach me how to paint on silk one summer when I visited Seward, Alaska with my husband. Take a look at her beautiful work here. Her business, Softly Silk, started in New Zealand years ago, but for now we are blessed to have her here.
Kerry would tell me, “Just paint blobs!” I excelled in making blobs. Her blobs eventually would become gorgeous flowers, but mine stubbornly remained blobs. My husband and I sleep on silk pillowcases decorated with blobs that are beyond ugly, but in the dark we don’t notice and they feel wonderful.
Last week, I read that spraying silk with a mixture of starch and vodka would produce a surface more like watercolor paper. A friend suggested a mixture like that would be called a stiff drink. I placed a piece of plastic inside the case, then sprayed it with the cocktail until it was thoroughly wet, then allowed it to dry. I used a watercolor paintbrush and dye, set them with an iron, then washed out the cocktail, and ironed them again. The treated surface stops some of the wild flow of the dye so the blobs were more controlled. They turned out kind of old-fashioned and sweet. They are going to relatives living in Arizona who get to enjoy these blossoms in April.