Sunday, June 12, 2011

Silk ties: using Setasilk instead of Dye-na-flow

Back in May, I made an attempt to hand paint a silk tie from Dharma Trading Company. I used their Dye-na-flow silk paints, and was only somewhat pleased with the result.

I was going for the dramatic organic shapes that I had been getting on my silk scarves, but this type of silk paint didn't seem to react as well to the salt technique. So, the next time I ordered scarf blanks I decided to try out a different type of silk paint. It came in, and today I've been giving it a try.

Here is the Setasilk that I decided to try, as well as the tie blank, the silk salt, and my sumi brush and watercolor tray.
For this try, I first spritzed down the back of the tie with water, so the colors would run together. Then I painted the back of the tie.
When I flipped the tie over to do the front, some of the dye from the back had run around the edges.
I spritzed the front with water, and painted it. Since the Dye-na-flow gave disappointing results with the silk salt, I really salted this one down. I also noticed that there were some lines where the dye from the back had come around front, so I added more salt to those parts to try to blend them in.

Boy, does this dye react with the salt!! Much more so than I expected. Kind of a cool effect, but a little over the top.
Also, those lines at the edge of the tie never blended in. Hmmm...
So, I tried it again. This time I spritzed the front of the tie with water before doing the back, so the paint wouldn't hit a dry edge as it came around. I also used much less salt.
The results were much, much better. I ironed the tie to heat set the paint by sandwiching the tie between a pressing cloth. Each section was ironed for 3 minutes.
Ah ha! That was the result I was going for!! Vivid colors, blending together, with the salt pulling the paint into interesting, organic shapes. I'd call this a success...but...
...there is still a problem. Even after ironing the heck out if it, the tie won't lie down flat. The edges have gone wavy. I'm suspecting that the issue is that interfacing didn't like getting soaked in the painting process.

So, attempt #4 is going to involve deconstructing the tie before the painting process, and then sewing it back together again afterward.

I'll get this yet! Has anyone else experimented with painting silk ties with the salt technique? Any pointers? Am I on the right track?

EDIT: Taking it apart, dying, ironing, and re-sewing seems to work. I'll make another blog post on that once I see how this tie fares at the dry cleaners.

EDIT 2: Dry cleaning the ties seems to solve the wavy issues I was having, without having to deconstruct the tie. Success!


  1. Wow, the end result is pretty fantastic! I hope you have success with the next one!

  2. The last one looked great---you're almost there!
    The interfacing could be the culprit. Good luck.

    LeAnn aka pasqueflower

  3. The last one is fantastic! I love the vivid colors and design. Just keep working on it, and you're right... You'll get it!

  4. Thanks for the encouragement! I thought of another possibility to try before taking the step of deconstructing the tie. If I can find something long enough to pin into, maybe I can block the tie as it is drying. I'd really rather avoid hand sewing if I can manage it.

  5. Beautiful! I love those bright and vivid colors!

  6. Beautiful Melissa, I love the bold and vivid colors you have utilized here.


  7. this is beautiful - I love the salt effects. I haven't been happy with the less-than-dramatic results with Jacquard green label dye. Never thought you could use salt with fabric paint.

  8. Gorgeous design and colors Melissa! Thanks for the tips - I just got my first shipment of tie blanks and wasn't sure where to start... this helps! :)

  9. Have fun with it! I'd love to see the results. :)

  10. Thanks - this comparison was just what I was wanting for a current project. I have both types of silk paint and have yet to investigate the differences between them properly - likely to be a rather boring task and I'd much rather get on with my main idea... Google found you for me effortlessly. I think I may be back!

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm glad to know that chronicling my experiments helped out. If it helps, the folks in my medieval recreation group use the Dye-na-flow for painting heraldic silk banners. It works well with gutta, and gives a nice bright, flat color. (Though, you may need two coats of paint with some colors to get the even tone.)

  11. I deconstructed mine, did the same process, ironed it to set the dye, washed it to get rid of any residue (especially salt. Ironed it to put it back together and found that it was now considerable longer than the felt(?) piece inside. I had to cut the top off and then restitch the corner at the top. It took a VERY long time to restitch. I like the idea of leaving it together though. I will try that next.