|Sara Aniton's hand-painting on silk work : Source: Dharma Trading|
The art of silk painting is as old as the weaving of silk fabric. The first known examples of silk painting come from India around 200AD and were later found in Indonesia where many of the modern day techniques for dyeing and painting have remained unchanged.
Around 300 years ago silk painting became popular in Europe. It was originally believed to have been an art form that was instructed to the French by members of the Russian court who had been informed of the technique from contact with the East.
Silk painting was a precursor to screen printing on silk. Both are done effectively with a combination of both dyes and paints. The difference between dyes and paints is that whilst dyes chemically bond to a fabric, by contrast paints attach themselves to the fabric and do not chemically bond. This means that when you print there is often a change in the 'handle' (the way silk feels in our hands) of the silk. With a dye, there will be no change to the handle of the silk.
Silk dyeing is often a technique which is best employed using steam fix dyes. Although it is possible to use dyes which can be set using chemicals, the best results for bringing out brilliant colours is to set the dye using steam. This is often done by blasting the fabric with steam for a period of 30 minutes to 3 hours depending on the silk and the quantity of fabric that is being set. In the case of home artisans, silk is often set by steaming devices they use on either a home pot or else a home steaming machine where they roll the fabric between sheets of blank news print.
|Indian dyes in a market. Source: Wikipedia|
Hand painting and screen printing on silk can also be done using a 'gutta'. Gutta is a a solvent based product which comes from Indonesian rubber trees (Gutta Percha). Gutta is what is known as a resist. By applying it to the silk, the dye will not go where the gutta has been applied. This allows artists to create the distinct shapes and designs which will be used when hand painting silks and is one of the most widely used materials for the French Serti Technique of silk painting.
In order to make a great silk design into something like a scarf of a pochette, it is important to know what kind of base cloth you are using. Different printing techniques will work better with different cloths. Printing on 12 mommes silk habotai (pronounced 'mummies' - a Japanese silk measurement which refers to the weight in pounds per 100 yards of a 45" wide cloth) will give a different result to that of a silk twill versus a georgette. Knowing your silk fabric to start with also means that some methods, such as digital printing, will work great and give a vibrant and deep result with one silk, but will work poorly in others. You also need to think about the application you wish to make your silk. Are you going to be making a cravatte? A pocket square? A scarf? A Tie? Each object will differ in what parts of the fabric will be seen. In the case of the pocket square, both sides need to be visibly seen in order for it to perform its function well. This is not the case for most cuts of a regular tie.
|Source: Better Workwear Australia - Screen Printing in motion|
Given that we are currently seeing a widespread drift towards digital printing, it is likely that over the coming years the price of screen printing, hand-painting and steam set dyed silk will only increase in price.
Are you interested in knowing more about screen printing or hand-painting or do you want us to show off your own artisan work? Let us know by contacting us on www.lenoeudpapillon.com.