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DEMONSTRATION: Painting an Ombre

To facilitate speed, which is important when applying dye to broad. large areas on the silk, organize a tray with the dyes, foam brushes, and a container of dilutanr. You may want to apply alcohol dilutant to the silk; this will make the colors blend more easily and give you more time co blend them before the silk dries.

Apply the lightest color first, overlapping each brushstfOke. Introduce the successive grades of color as you work across and down the silk, ending with the darkest.

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After each change of color, immediately go back and blend the color by rubbing your semi路 dry brush back and forth where the shades overlap.

This completed ombre shows the successful gradual blending of each color into the next.

The Procedure for Applying Dye - 77


BLOTCHES Blotches are more difficult to paint evenly than most ground colors because of the careful brushwork needed to paint around intricate designs and in small areas. More than one edge has to be kept wet, and working this way requires a lot of time and concentration. If the working edges dry before the application of dye is completed, undesirable ridges of color and sneaking will result. There are steps you can take to avoid these technical difficulties. During the initial planning of the design, divide large areas into smaller sections by using design elements that intersect to subdivide larger areas. Also, to prevent the silk from drying too quickly, many silk painters wet the blotch area before applying the dye. Several wetting agents can be used for this; commercial di!utants that have been developed for this job, an alcohol and water solution, or distilled water. When you are applying light colors, the commercial dilutants render the most satisfactory results. For paiming large flat areas that are bordered by intricate motifs, use the large squirrel-hair quill brushes. They hold a lot of dye so that you can cover a large area with one broad stroke, and they come to a fine point that will easily go around and imo the intricate areas. When paiming on dry silk, avoid accidentally flooding the dye over the gutta barrier by applying the dye a short distance from the gutta edge. Allow the dye to spread naturally toward the gutta line and imo small and narrow areas through a process known as capillary attraction. When the dye is applied to wet silk it spreads more slowly than when applied to dry silk because the wetness of the fabric holds back the dye. This

means that a slightly different technique is necessary. To avoid halos around the designs and motifs, be careful to paint the dye up to the gutta lines and imo imricate areas. To avoid smearing the dye, apply it from left to right if you are right-handed and vice versa if you are left-handed. For easy access, move the cup of dye close to the area that you are painting, or keep the cup in your free hand.

TIPS • To make it easier to clean up leaks into a blotch area, paint the motif first and the blotch las[. Leaks onto white silk can be repaired; leaks onto an already painted blotch are difficult to overcome or integrate into a design. • When you are painting a blotch around an intricate motif, you may find it difficult to keep areas from drying before you finish applying the dye. Since this causes streaking and uneven color, try to recruit an assistant so you can keep all the edges working and cover twice as much area before the fabric dries. My husband, Dale, has become a very competent assistant. • For ideas on how to develop a variety of textured grounds, refer to the sections on salt crystals, alcohol techniques, and line building (pages 102-119).

Lilies. ~ SU$an L. Moyer. This detail of a scarf WCL'l painted using the procedure demonstrated on the focing page. The sensuous!, drawn and delicately shaded lilies make a striking contrQ5t 10 the flat horizontlll stripes.


DEMONSTRATION, Painting a Blotch

Utilize the tip of a large squirrel.hair quill brush to paint around an intricate motif. Apply the dye a short distance (rom the gutta edge and allow the dyt" to flow {rom the brush toward the gutta line.

When painting the large flat areas of a blOlch, use the large squirrel.hair quill brush, and paint with broad, even, overlapping brushsuokes.

The Procedure for Applying Dye • 79


Thu example shows the kinds of problems that can occur when you are painting a flat background around a mOl if, either on white silk or otIer a ground color. Note the unwanted ridges of dye connecting some of the motifs, and the slreaks in the open areas. To pretlent these technical problenu, either steam-set the ground color before overpainting or recn.lil someone to help you keep all the working edges weI.

AVOIDING AND CORRECTING MISTAKES Unwanted stains on a painting can be due to accidental drips, splashes, or technical mistakes. Breaks in the gutta barrier, an overloaded brush that floods the dye over a gutta line, or a brush tip that carelessly goes over the line can create unwanted color stains. Dyes that have spread out of control can never be totally removed from the silk, especially those that react to the silk on contact, like Jacquard and a few Super Tinfix colors. But you can reduce the concentration of dye so that future applications of color will nOt spread and mix with the leaked dye to cause a bigger problem. If the dye seeps through a break in the gutta barrier, you must act quickly to control the damage. Repair the line immediately with gutta both on the front and back of the silk. This will help prevent more dye from seeping through. (Sometimes the repair will nOt seal because the break is tOO large and the silk is too wet. If thiS is the case, let the area dry thoroughly, and then repair with gutta. But is has been my experience that a quick gutta repair will seal a small leak.) Quickly, using a COtton swab or clean brush, apply a barrier of alcohol around the renegade dye. The alcohol will push the dye back toward the gutta line and keep it from traveling any farther. Use a cotton swab to pick up as much color as you possibly can. Continue to dilute the dye with a brush as you pick up the color with a dry cotton swab. You will need to apply and pick up several applications of alcohol to effectively dilute the dye. (As you work, be careful not to drag a wet cOtton swab over other areas of your design.) When the silk is dry you may notice a dull patch on the fabric surface. Future applications of dye may nOt blend and 80 • The Procedure for Applying Dye

dry evenly over these patches. To make the surface uniform, treat the whole surface to be dyed by applying an alcohol dilutam wash. After letting the dilutam wash dry, apply the dye, being careful to smooth out any unevenness by rubbing your brush back and forth. This will blend the edges of the patches and any residue of color left in the silk. If the problem seems irreversible, such as a color bleeding onto a painted ground, you might consider changing the design to incorporate or cover up the flow. Minor flaws can be overpowered by the addition of a texture, such as salt, faux batik, or the alcohol textures. Lots of personal discoveries and beautiful results have grown out of inventive handling of such accidents.

TIPS • Keep a gutta applicator, isopropyl alcohol, dilutant, and cotton swabs handy when you apply dye. • Before applying dye, hold your painting up to the light and check the back of your silk to see if the resist has penetrated the silk. Make sure all starts and stopS are connected and sealed. • Before applying any dye, you may want to check for breaks in the resist by applying dilutant to the background or appropriate area of your design. If the dilutant leaks, wait for the silk to dry, and repair the resist before applying dye.


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