Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watching the scarf dry: salt method on hand dyed silk scarves

I've been painting silk scarves for the past few weeks now. First I got an order for 20 grey scarves. I steamed those yesterday, and will wash and iron them tomorrow so I can ship them out on Thursday. Then, as long as the frame was set up anyway, I decided to play in the color!

To make these scarves, I paint them with silk dye and then put silk salt on them. As the scarves dry, the salt pulls at the dye. I'm always fascinated by the wonderfully intricate patterns that result! On this last one, I took a few pictures as I was going along, so you could see the magic too.

On this first one, I've just put the salt down on the wet scarf. It has had just the amount of time that it took me to dig up my camera to get to work.

Then, it was time to ignore the scarf and let the salt do its thing.

Making progress! But I wanted more. I kept the salt in place, and waited until the scarf was quite dry.

Now, that is more like it! The colors get lighter, partly because the scarf is dry here, and partly because the salt has pulled at the dye.

Once I brushed the salt off of the scarf, this is what I ended up with.

Such a fascinating process! I love the controlled chaos of it all. I choose the colors, and the placement of the salt crystals, but there isn't any way to totally predict the outcome. Pure magic.

I'll hang the scarf for a day or so, and then steam it to set the dye. A day or so after that I'll wash it out and iron it dry. The color will lighten just a bit more as the excess dye washes away, and the ironing process will give the finished scarf that lovely silk sheen to it. I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Now...what colors should I try next.....


  1. Thank you, Chantal! I have such fun painting them. I think one of the best things is that I can experiment with color combinations, without having to dedicate weeks and months to the project. (My weaving takes a little longer to see results.)

  2. How cool! The bottom right corner looks like flowers :)

  3. It does look like blooming flowers! Totally beautiful!!

  4. That is amazing! Watching it as it happened must have been exciting! Beautiful!

  5. I had a friend who did these as her A-level art project at high school. I loved the things salt did to the colours. It is very nice.
    How about brown-green combination next time? It would look like moss on the trees in the forrest : )

  6. Wow: that's amazing! Have never seen this before and it's fascinating! Thanks for sharing it.

    It's incredible what one learns and see when reading folks' blogs. I really enjoy it, and hope that folks enjoy visiting as much as I love calling in at the blogs I follow. This one has got to be the best one for me today!

    Cheers. Isobel

  7. this is such a beautiful effect!

  8. Have successfully painted some silk with Setasilk paints following your advice. Painted - but not dried - fabric shown on Very pleased with the colours - can't wait to see them when they dry. Perhaps I will try salt on a follow-up piece I'm planning.

    1. I'm following your blog now, Charlton Stitcher. I look forward to seeing more pictures of your work! Beautiful colors.

    2. And very welcome you are - you're my first follower - and I'm about to become your 312th!

    3. Thank you so much! (Now, either we're in different parts of the world, or you are up waaaay too late. I know I am.)

    4. Yup. Checked your profile, and as I thought we're on opposite sides of the world. I'm over in Phoenix, Arizona, USA. Now I really look forward to seeing your posts.