Our idea: My daughter Sara and I came up with a great gift idea that we could make for a very close friend of ours. Sara and our friend Rhonda were talking one day and Sara said to her: "Rhonda, you are so cool you could walk a snake to Paris!". Rhonda loved that saying and it became a famous saying around our circle of friends and family. We decided that for Rhonda's birthday we would paint her a silk scarf with that saying on it and a picture too.
Sara and I decided to make it together. We wanted to use Sara's drawings and letters because she is such a good artist and I would help with the tracing, the resist lines and painting the silk which can be a little tricky for an 8 year old.
I measured and cut out a big piece of paper which was the same size as the silk scarf. We used a beautiful blank silk Crepe de Chine scarf which already comes with a hand-rolled hem. Then Sara drew her design in pencil first and then went over it in a thick black marker. This way it would be easy for me to trace onto the silk scarf because I'd be able see it through the silk.
I stretched the silk onto a wooden frame to stabilize it for painting. I pinned the paper drawing onto the silk scarf on the wrong side and traced it with a black water based resist. I use a water based resist because the solvent based resists are very hard to work with. They are very messy, have toxic fumes and make cleaning up very difficult. I find if I add black dye to the water based resist it strengthens it and also I find it's easier to design an image with black lines than white lines.
We both worked on painting it. I did the background which is much harder because silk dye dries very quickly and if you don't work fast you'll get streaks. Sometimes streaks in silk painting add texture and interest however in this particular case we wanted a solid background. Sara concentrated on painting the smaller parts.
When the silk painting was finished we steamed it and washed and ironed it. And, voila a beautiful silk scarf for our friend as a personalized gift! Needless to say she was thrilled!!
Conclusion: Painting silk is very easy and fun to do! I would recommend starting with blank silk scarves and using professional dyes. If you don' t want to build a steamer you can use Jacquards "Dye Set" chemical.
Good luck and happy silk painting!