Tag Archives: Silk Painting

Hand painting silk techniques

As a long time painting artist, I know of hundreds of ways to create art on canvas and paper. I think nothing of switching from pastels to oils to alcohol inks without too much thought. Without realizing it over the course of years, I had  developed an expertise in many mediums simply by using them over and over 🙂

Portrait Painting Demo with pastels

So as I began to expand my silk painting it did not take me long to realize that there were as many methods to add color to silk as there was to  canvas!  I remember my early confusion at reading about dyes and paints in the big catalogues and trying to make sense out of conflicting information!

hand painting at a show

And of course I wanted to skip the learning curve and get right into the silk art! Think about it: All those methods such as steaming, not steaming, heat setting, instant set, dye paints, dyes, fabrics, types of silk……the list of what to know seemed dauntless at first!

In college I studied printmaking, so carving my own blocks to print on silk was not a problem.  I mean there is a huge industry in the arts devoted to stamping but I wanted mine to be unique!


My horse blocks

Carving 5 or 6 blocks of just horses has given me so many options for variety and I know that no one else has those images!

And then of course there was the method I use most often, drawing with resist!  I love the water based resists. I am not into suffering for my art 🙂 and melting wax, using the equivalent of oils in resists just wasn’t for me.

Stamping on silk

So making stretcher bars (from canvas stretchers!) has been a solution to drawing out my designs then adding the dyes. There is something zen-like in hand painting anything and watching silk dyes flow up to the resist lines is very much like painting in watercolors…except the resist acts as a “dam” to control the flow of dye.

Applying the resist
Hand painted Poppies
Hand painted (and Ecoprinted) silk wraps

And then there are the dyes that required steaming and I found rice steamers at the Goodwill that worked! I went from scarves to clothes and love to work my large pieces into garments!

So in my hand painted silk, I love to experiment. I love the colors, the designs and often incorpoarte both into my ecoprinted! There is nothing more beautiful than silk drying on the clothesline!

Hand painted silk drying on the line!

Colors from Nature: Eco-dyeing from the NC backroads.

A gorgeous day, car windows down and a back road in North Carolina. It really doesn’t get much better than that!   With my artist hubby Steve in the passenger seat, we explored yet another favorite back road. This time, we were searching for particular leaves, flowers and berries to collect for my eco-dyeing with silk scarves. Just as the roadsides are awash in June with wild Queen Anne’s lace and orange Tiger lilies, in September and October they are replaced with wild Helianthus or vivid yellow sunflowers and a multitude of plants as yet untouched by the color change .  Our mini farm has most of them  but we love the fun of looking!  The same roads change by the season and this month we were in search of Nature’s early fall bounty.


One of our favorite back roads

Pure Spring water
Pure Spring water

Our Quest took us into Virginia where we stopped to collect the pure spring waters of the once famous Buffalo Springs Resort. Known to the Indians, then gathering fame with the Colonialists, it reached its peak of fame in the late 1800’s as a curative water for whatever ails you! Now owned by the US Park Service, it’s vast array of buildings are gone, leaving nothing but a gazebo, the always available “Lithia” water and its ghosts of the past. A fascinating history of this place can be read here: http://sovahomefront.org/_site_buffalosprings.php


Collecting water from Buffalo Springs
Collecting water from Buffalo Springs

We searched and collected just what we needed and were going to experiment with such as grasses, tobacco leaves and flowers, assorted leaves from oaks, maples and poplars as well as wild sumac. The leaves have not yet turned to their brilliant fall colors-that’s for another trip!

Collecting wildflowers
Collecting wildflowers
Hubby helping to gather a few flowers for dyeing
Hubby helping to gather a few flowers for dyeing

I’m getting ready for the 11 day North Carolina State Fair where I will be the silk artist in the Village of Yesteryear-a community of craftsmen and women.


Read more here: http://villageofyesteryear.com/
Eco-dyeing is a is time consuming labor of love! This year’s public at the NCSF will see my first series of eco-dyed scarves along with my hand painted and dyed silk designs. I love the subtle patterns left by nature. With the exception of the beautiful reds of the cochineal bug that has been cultivated in South America for centuries (and can be found here in NC), most of the natural colors are softer and less vivid. Eco-dyeing is best done when the artist can enjoy the process from its very beginning of gathering fallen leaves and berries to it’s very end with the slow unwrapping of the silks and the delight of surprise results of colors and patterns!

And finally, after I shared this post, we went to an estate sale of the contents of an old Victorian house and found not one, but two, intact gallons of Buffalo Springs water in the basement (with the 1902 work desk from the old dentist who occupied the home in the 1920’s) What a find for us! Enlarged so you can read the writing!

A turn of the century gallon of water from Buffalo Springs
A turn of the century gallon of water from Buffalo Springs

Custom silk art experiences!

So I have just finished the 10 day Village of Yesteryear show which is an annual event at the NC State Fair in October in Raleigh, NC. Great time in spite of the long hours (10am-10pm daily) Next to me, hubby Stephen Filarsky was hand painting his custom signs-that was pretty impressive to the under 30 crowd!

Silk Scarf with Owls
Butterfly silk scarf
Dragonfly silk scarf
Gold and Red silk scarf done in the burn out technique. 8″ x 54″
Abstract Horse trimmed in gold
Cute little Papillons
Jack Russell Terriers silk scarf
Another owl scarf being completed at the show

I demonstrated techniques using resist and silk painting.  My box of silk work cocoons however was a real conversation piece 🙂 Scroll down to see additional work done at the show-some are in my Etsy store 20141029_132735 20141025_193907 20141024_135135-some sold before I was completed with them! So enjoy the photos. I’m off to two more shows before Thanksgiving!

So here I am at the 10 day Village of Yesteryear craftsmen building.
So here I am at the 10 day Village of Yesteryear craftsmen building.