by THFool Dagonell the Juggler and Lady Jane Arden of Heronter.
Photos by both Jane and Dagonell.

The Shire of Heronter has regular A&S gatherings. Lady Jane Arden of Heronter taught Silk Painting on Sunday November 24, 2019 at the Fredonia Technology Incubator (214 Central Avenue, State University of New York at Fredonia, Dunkirk, NY 14048) As a non-profit educational organization, we ‘rented’ the site for free! It has serious possibilities for a schola event.

First, trace your design onto the silk. A pencil will work fine for this, make sure to make light marks. Any pencil marks not covered with resist will show through the silk paint. Don’t use a pencil straight from the sharpener, a gently rounded tip works better. If you’re having trouble keeping the silk laid out flat, this is where the painter’s tape comes in.


Syr Ian penciling his arms

Next, you need to stretch the silk onto the frame. You want to pass the rubber bands thru ONLY ONE side of the clip. Work with the clip placement until the fabric is pulled evenly from all sides and that the fabric grain is as straight as possible. This works best if you attach one side at a time; top, then bottom, then right, then left. When you attach the clips to the frame, attach them so that the non-banded side faces down. This will help keep the silk off the working surface and picking up resist or paint from underneath. Kudos to Lord Lothin for figuring this out! If you can’t get a clip to grab the silk, edge the silk with painter’s tape, so the clip has a better surface to grab.

Trace the design with resist. Allow the resist to dry. Use a fine tip applicator to trace the design with resist, moving from top to bottom. Rotate the frame or move around it to avoid accidentally touching the wet areas. Make sure there are no gaps in the resist lines. The lines act as a wall to contain the silk paint.

When the design is complete, lift the frame and check the back to make sure the resist has soaked through to the back side of the silk. Some areas will be dry after 30 minutes but double-check before moving forward. Be careful, any resist that is smeared on the silk cannot be removed.

Before painting your design, you may want to make a test strip of all your paints, so you can see how it looks when it dries.

Paint one color at a time. Dip only the very tip of the brush into the paint and touch the tip to an area away from the resist lines. If the brush is too close to a line, the paint can pool and run over the resist. The paint will wick through the silk rapidly. Use the brush to push the dye into smaller areas. Make sure it is spread as evenly as possible.

Once you have completed all the areas for one color, make sure to have a clean brush for the next color. If you have time, allow each color to dry before working on a new color. It’s best to work lightest to darkest color. If you’re doing more than one banner at a time, this is when you move onto the next banner.

Wait for the paint to completely dry, then set the paint with heat. Remove the silk from the frame. Place the silk on top of a paper towel or cotton cloth. Use another paper towel or cotton cloth on top of the silk. Heat an iron (no steam) and press each area of the painted banner for at least 3 minutes.

Wash the silk with a detergent like Synthrapol. This detergent is specially formulated to rinse out excess dye and prevent the colors from running. Only a very small amount of detergent is needed, roughly a teaspoon per gallon. The detergent can be a skin irritant, so use gloves and goggles. Do not allow the detergent to touch your skin or eyes.

The directions for Synthrapol say to use hot water, but this can also fade your colors. Rinse the work well after washing. Dry flat and then iron smooth using the regular silk setting.

Materials Used:

  • 2 9’x9′ 8mm habotai silk
  • 1 wooden frame (Multiple, pre-primed 1″x2″x12” wooden frames held together by woodscrews can be produced in a day. 1/2″ PVC pipe would probably work just as well)
  • 1 box of rubber bands
  • 1 box of 1″ binder clips
  • 3 1/2 oz bottles for Dye-Na-Flow by Jacquard Silk paint
  • 3 lidded cups for use when painting
  • 1 needle-applicator (.9mm) bottle of black Jacquard water soluble resist
  • 1/2 oz bottle of Dharma Synthrapol alternative detergent
  • Soft lead pencil for tracing design on silk
  • 1 Fine-tipped Sharpie for tracing design onto paper

Your design (heraldic device, etc., no larger than 8″x8″. Tackle a larger project after you’ve done a few small ones.  If you have the skill and patience, a Celtic animal-knot would look boss!)

  • Typing paper for tracing design
  • Multiple paint brushes
  • A roll of painter’s tape


You Tube Videos:

Online Tutorials: