Silk Painting

Silk painting always begins with pure white or dyed silk. It is traditionally suspended to be painted. “Dams” are created by the use of some agent to stop the spread of the dye or, if more of a watercolor effect is desired, such barriers are not created. After the silk dye is applied the piece must be steamed to set the dye and make the design and colors permanent.

Spirit Over the Waters” is a set of liturgical pieces created for the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and the Worship Arts (FUMMWA) at Lake Junaluska in 2009. It included two large banners, paraments, and a table cover. In the first picture the two banners are in their pristine white condition, strung up between sawhorses stabilized with chunks of firewood and the pickup truck. This was to accommodate their extra-long size.

Silk painting installation outdoors

My vision for these pieces was quite different than how they turned out. I foresaw them as being very “washy,” like a large watercolor. Instead, due to the direct sunlight and wind, the dye dried immediately upon contact with the fabric. So, while the piece is called “Spirit Over the Water,” the Spirit over the driveway was hard at work! It is best not to argue with Mother Nature.

Sylvia Everett silk painting outdoors

After taking the banners off the sawhorses, I repeatedly steamed them with a steam iron, which is not entirely satisfactory but was necessitated by their large size.

Red silk painting finished

The “Ordinary Time” banners shown on my worktable in my studio were created from silk brought back from Japan in 1945 by the father of a friend of mine. The silk had resided in a drawer for all these years but was in perfect condition. My friend’s father, then in his mid nineties, was able to attend the dedication of these pieces at First Methodist Church, Waynesville.

The design reflects our forested environment and each piece uses the same outlines but is painted somewhat differently. Each has a unique design as a focal point on the upper third of the hanging. The large brush I am using is a Japanese brush that I bought to use as my “sword” in Tai-Chi. It works well enough to paint with.