Charlie The Juggling Clown
Creating Happy Memories that Last a Lifetime
Creating Customized Silk Scarves
By Bruce “Charlie” Johnson
(This effect is described in
Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three: Creative Routines.)
(This effect is described in Creativity For Entertainers Volume Three: Creative Routines.)
Sometimes a silk scarf has a surface treatment. Wash it in a gentle cleaner like Woolite. Then iron it to remove any wrinkles.
Transfer your design.
Place your paper design on a hard surface. Lay the silk scarf on top of it, stretch it, and secure it by taping it place. You will be able to see the design through the scarf. Using a pencil trace the design onto the scarf.
Stretch the Silk
Stretch the silk on a frame that can be supported. When you are painting you don’t want the silk to touch any other surface or the dye will go through instead of staying in the silk. (There are gaps between the silk fibers which are what makes silk screen printing possible.)
For a small design in the center of a scarf you can stretch the silk on an embroidery hoop. For larger designs on an eighteen-inch scarf you can use a square quilter’s frame. Both styles have an outer layer that slips over the fabric holding it in place. For a thirty six inch-inch scarf or a flag, I use wooden stretcher bars available in art stores and secure the silk with masking tape. Be sure to cover the wood with masking tape first so any dye that gets near the edge does not soak into the wood. (If the dye soaks into the wood you can’t use it on other projects because the dye may leach back out onto the fabric.)
After the silk is stretched on the frame, I use wood blocks to keep it up off the table.
A problem with silk painting is that the dye tends to bleed by being drawn along the fibers. You can prevent that using a product called Jacquard No Flow. There are two ways to use No Flow. Both methods use a paint brush to apply the No Flow to the silk fabric.
The first method is to paint it along the edges of an area you want colored. Then when you apply the dye it will spread until it reaches the No Flow. The No Flow works as a dam for the dye. This works well if you want a solid area of color that does not connect with any other area of color.
The second way to use No Flow is to apply it to the area you will be painting. Then you paint directly on top of the No Flow. This works well if you want to do any blending of colors, if you want to do fine lines, or if areas of color will be touching each other.
No Flow needs to dry before you continue to the next step. It will be shiny when you paint it and almost disappear when it is dry.
The fabric dyes in the marking pens can be heat set using an iron. Place a piece of paper or second piece of fabric over your silk scarf and iron it.
Be sure to lay the finished scarf flat while it cools. If you fold it while it is still warm you will set the creases in the fabric and will need to iron it later to remove them.
Normal silk dyes are set using either steam or special setting solutions. I found that setting solutions remove excess dye and if there is an area left white the solution may tint it. Applying No Flow to white areas before using a setting solution helped to prevent this. There is no problem if using the steam method of fixing the dye.
found the above method to be one of the easiest for single silks with a simple
design, but other methods are possible.
If you want to learn more about silk painting, classes are available
although it may take some detective work to locate one.
The first silk painting class that I took was part of a community college
continuing education department. The
instructor specialized in silk fashion accessories.
The second silk painting class that I attended was part of a kite making
conference. (One traditional style
of kite developed in
If you would rather invest your money instead of your time, there are people who will do silk painting for you.