Sunday, 18 April 2010

Just a little alcohol goes a long way...

Any of you that paint on silk will be familiar with the alcohol technique. For those of you that don't paint on silk you may be surprised to know that it doesn't mean having a wee dram before starting the project.
Alcohol is used to displace the dye to form patterns by painting onto dry unfixed dyed silk. It will only work with dyes, not silk paints, as long as the silk dye has not been fixed. My sequence of pics show the process in stages.
1. After stretching the silk on the frame I painted it using 3 colours of water based dye. I didn't blend the colours, I let them find their own edges.
2. When the dyes have dried I can start to 'paint' using the alcohol. You can see the shapes starting to appear as the dye is pushed to the edges of the brush shape.
3. More alcohol is added. I was going for vague flower shapes.
4. Texture was added to the background by adding spots of alcohol with the tip of the brush.
5. The alcohol will dilute the colour of the dye so more colour can be added if it's starting to look too washed out. I also added more spots. Sometimes it's difficult to know when to stop!
6. The finished piece of silk taken off the frame but before I have fixed the dye. The fixing process is a lengthy steam using an old steamer over a saucepan of simmering water being very careful not to let any water touch the silk. Not sure what I'll use it for yet, it's about 45cm square, any ideas?


  1. It's absolutely beautiful!
    enjoyed reading and seeing the process unfold.
    Best wishes Sue

  2. wow i'd never seen that in action im inspired!

  3. Wonderful -I didn't know of this technique - I love the way the design 'makes its own decisions'.