Going to the Prom – an English version

Prom-commission-topEarlier this year I was asked to paint some silk that was to be made up into a Prom dress. Now commissions are great, but I’m always slightly nervous about creating the look and feel that a client is expecting. Good communication is essential.

From the outset I endeavour to get a firm handle on what specific colours are required. The kind of tonal range, bright or muted, in a calm or busy design with small or large motifs, are all considered. And, to this end, and being the 21st century, the young client sent me a digital mood board.

lilac orange mood board
A 21st century mood board!

Before I started on the five metres of chiffon I painted a few sample pieces and finally a chiffon scarf as examples of my interpretations for the brief. And, this scarf design and colours, Valeria lilac, was chosen, but with the note – ‘I like it all except the green, please.’

When I’m painting several metres of silk I try to keep the motif sizes consistent but for this piece I still wanted them loose enough to give the impression of the design flowing across the surface.

There is no true repeat, but the finished five metres still has coherence.

Phew - five metres finished and now for the steamer.
Phew – five metres finished and now for the steamer.

Once the silk chiffon has been steamed the colours are fixed and now their actual slightly brighter colours can be seen. This is the point where the dress lining colour is chosen. I think the unique beauty of chiffon, is the way the colours change subtly as they float over different backgrounds.

The richness of the plum in the chiffon was brought out by the darkest burgundy silk lining. I dyed the white habotai lining using an acid dye in a hot dye bath with a vinegar mordant. The lining was rinsed, dried and along with the finished chiffon parcelled up and sent off to the dressmaker. My part done!

Agnes-Ashe-hand-painted-silk-prom-commission

 

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