Last week I posted about my discovery of a beautiful example of Tudor woodwork, the Parham fire surround. I found the detailed carving inspirational and have developed a motif from one of the pheasants lurking in the carved vegetation.
Here is more of the process shown in a few photos as the design is first outlined and then painted with dye, pink, old gold and moss green, on a handkerchief-sized piece of silk.
I was not convinced about the old gold so it was dropped when I expanded and transferred the design to a larger, 90 x 90 cm square silk twill scarf.
As I recently mentioned June is the month of roses and I do love a classic pink rose – I think that’s why I have been working with pink all this month.
And, the pieces are now ready to be rolled in paper and steamed for a couple of hours to fix the dyes.
It’s been an odd few weeks. The weather here in East Anglia as with the rest of the UK has been incredibly mild for December. There’s talk it will be the warmest December for over 70 years! Needless to say the garden has a few plants still blooming and some bursting forth completely at the wrong time of year – an early summer hardy geranium is coming into flower.
I’m currently working on a couple of long silk twill scarves and belatedly noticed that I had chosen a palette that was a reflection of the colours outside my studio/office window.
I hadn’t actively looked for inspiration from the garden. I simply felt I wanted to work with rich browns and muddy greens and soft muted pinks.
Painted silk may be a framed work of textile art hanging on a wall, or a floaty scarf draped across your shoulders, but it might also be an elaborately constructed 18th-century gown such as this beautiful example below. This stunning museum piece has been carefully restored providing quite a challenge for the conservators at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Mid 18th-century painted silk from China made into a sack back dress. c. 1760-1770 Painted silk, chenille, hand sewn. V&A Museum, London
The process of conserving 18th-century painted silk. V&A, London
The silk of this sack back gown was woven and painted in China and then shipped to England where it was made into the dress. The silk was painted with paint which sat on the surface of the weave. A process that allowed for free form decoration, but not the colour fastness associated with dyeing as the surface paint could wear away.
Painting with dyes that soaked into the cloth dyeing the silk fibres became possible following the 19th-century Industrial Revolution and the discovery of dyes that could be fixed with steam and not just using dye baths thus allowing for the fixing of dyed patterns printed or painted. Below left, the 1960s George Halley dress has been hand painted with silk dyes, and the painterly silk of Anna Wintour’s dress is dyed even though it looks like painted brushstrokes. I thought it was interesting to see American Vogue’s Editor, Anna Wintour, wearing such a striking and glamorous dress that has a couture appearance yet a definite ‘arty’ feel.
George Halley hand painted silk dress. 1960s Shrimpton Couture
Anna Wintour, Editor of Vogue, USA May 2014 Painterly silk dress
I have just finished a commission for painted silk that will be made into a Prom dress. Of course, no photographs allowed until after the event so here are some shots of work in progress and the finished scarves painted with dyes!