Working with Magic Sizing as a Resist

I’ve been playing with a new technique for about a month now…applying Magic Sizing to my silk and using it as a resist.  Thanks to Karen Sistek, who developed this technique,  and to Francine Dufour Jones for sharing information about this process.

Here’s some brief notes about the process I have tried:

I spray the stretched silk with sizing as a first step.  It doesn’t take much to coat the silk with a wet coat.

Sometimes the sizing puddles a bit.  Then I use a folded paper towel to spread it more evenly across the silk. 

At this point I let it dry.  It doesn’t take all that long to let it air dry.  However, I often get impatient!  So, I dry it with a hairdryer if I can’t wait for it to air dry!Now I can begin to add color.  This is where it gets exciting.  I can use a big sponge brush to add big blocks of color, or block in shapes for the composition I plan to use.  My previous experience with silk tells me that  with no sizing added, color will spread as far as possible before drying with a broken line on dry silk, or with a diffused cloud effect on wet silk.  However, with magic sizing as a resist, color will stay, with blocky edges and no diffusing.  This is very freeing!This is such a different effect than what I have previously learned; such new paths to learn now!  Here is the first painting I completed using this process.  Here it is in progress.  This new technique will take much effort to master, and I am just beginning with it.  I love it, and can’t wait to see how it will change my work.  At the beginning of this year I challenged myself to work more with incorporating drawing into my work, and also work with developing shapes and blocks of color, not just line.  This technique allows for exactly that.

13 responses to “Working with Magic Sizing as a Resist

  1. I have everything I need to start painting on silk (I think) but am somewhat intimidated by the whole process. Any advice for a beninner?

  2. Hi Carol! I think you will enjoy painting on silk very much. I would say to start, maybe play around with some doodles on the silk. Are you going to be using a gutta to make lines and shapes? I use a water based gutta (Silkpaint brand) and I really like it because I don’t have to have it dry cleaned to remove it; just run it under warm water and gently rub it.

    I think it would be fun to start with some doodles, and maybe a few dyes in your favorite color range ( mine is greens with some purple) and then dive in. Once you have your gutta lines, you can try dyeing on dry silk. Then maybe wet the silk first in some areas, with a wet sponge brush, and then put some dye in those areas. You’ll get a great feel for how the dye handles. Well, have fun… I know you will enjoy it! I’d love to know what you think of the medium!

    • Hi again,

      The gutta I have is Jacquard gutta resist and is not water based. How do I clean it and can you please tell me about the steaming of the dyes after application.


      • Carol,
        I think the gutta you are using must be the same I have used in the past; it is one that needs to be dry cleaned if I am remembering correctly. That is, once you have finished your painting, and steam set your dyes, you take it to the dry cleaner to have it removed. Afterwards the white of the silk where the gutta was looks so bright, and the dye colors are so vibrant!

        For steam setting the process is pretty simple. I use Dupont dyes; I set them for about 30 minutes. I believe most steam set dyes will set with about the same amount of time.

        I use a stove top steamer. I wrap the finished silk painting in a piece of white or beige cotton (or you can use newsprint, either blank or newspaper several days old so the ink doesn’t come off) and cover each side of the silk with it. Then roll or wrap it into a small bundle; maybe tie it with string or a loose rubber band to keep it from unfolding in the steamer. Put it in the steamer. Don’t let it touch the sides at all. Put a folded towel on top to catch any drips , and don’t let the towel touch the bottom, or sides, or top of your pot. Just protecting everything from wicking up moisture this way. Then steam it for about 30 minutes.

        Wash it, maybe with a bit of detergent. I really don’t care for Synthropol, a detergent many people use. I just use a drop of dish soap actually. Rinse until no dye comes out. I do a final rinse with cold water and a capful of white vinegar, to restore acidity and give the silk back its’ shine. And that’s it.

        Oh, about the gutta- the one you are using is so nice; it makes a really pretty line. Enjoy your painting! I’d love to know how your project is going!

  3. I’ve been silk painting for a little while now and had never heard of this magic sizing stuff. I’m so excited to use it to get some nice detailed line work !
    Just wanted to say thanks for putting in the effort to make this blog, I’m learning so much 😀

    • Thank you, Ella. I am so pleased you took the time to check out my blog. I find silk painting so special- it’s a media like none other, as far as I am concerned. I have been looking for online postings and sources for learning more about techniques, so I’d love to share and talk about any silk painting learning that comes my way.

  4. Thanks for sharing, I would love if you describe more ways of applying MS on silk and its removal and fixing too. And what colors will work the best with MS. I m working on it too but need to learn more and more as MS is the most exciting way for me now a days

    • Thank you. I really love using the magic sizing; it allows for layering in a very interesting way. I have loved working with silk since I started twenty years ago, and the magic sizing has added a new dimension. I’d love to hear more about the techniques you try too.

      As far as the removal and fixing, I proceed as I would normally, with rolling the silk in a paper or cloth bundle, then steaming it. It does seem to hold more dye than otherwise and I have experienced more bleeding through of the dye in the steaming step. Perhaps add an extra layer of paper or cloth to absorb any that might try to bleed through… And the removal is simply washing in cold water after the steaming is complete.

  5. Hi there, I also have a WordPress blog,, and stumbled upon Goosebumps Texture Spray looking for a way to use a spray resist on my stamps but can’t figure out if it would steam out. Don’t know yet, but will ask supplier. Can you tell me where to buy the spray you used? I also have a sticky gummy bunch of black gutta lines on my recent scarf which was steamed. I have tried: ironing, dry cleaning, rubbing with toothbrush in warm water and it just won’t budge. ideas?
    I live in Australia, please visit my site if you have a chance!

    • Hi Marta,
      I like the idea of the texture spray. I’d like to hear more about how you have used it in your silk painting. The spray starch I use for silk painting is called Magic Sizing but it seems to me that other brands would work as well. I’ve never tried dipping the silk in starch and letting it dry before painting, but I may try it to see what effects it might create. The Magic Sizing is basically a spray starch for use for ironing shirts and so forth.

    • And, Marts, I wanted to ask as well about the gutta lines. I have used some water based gutta that really took some effort to wash out after steaming. I used fairly warm water and let it soak, and then gently brushed it away. It took a lot of work, and I found that if I used too much pressure I’d pull the silk weave. But I use water based gutta only now, and mot of the time I don’t have a problem. Maybe I’d let it soak for a while in warm water before trying to gently scrub it a bit.

  6. I have just recently started painting on silk but I’m using Setasilk paint instead of dyes. When I paint over the sizing do I need to steam, iron, or put the silk in the dryer? The method I learned initially is to put the scarf in the dryer just before it is completely dry, and it has worked well with the paint so far.

    • I’m so glad you mentioned Setasilk. I have not used it, so I looked it up. It sounds like a great medium, and I’d love to try it. I wonder how it would work with the sizing- or with any resist. Oh, how fun! If you decide to try an experiment, I’d love to hear how it goes, and also what you think of it as you experiment!

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