Winter Tree Series- Can salt resolve a problem?

I’ve identified a  problem with my Winter Tree series. I need to keep the backgrounds simple, but I don’t like them as flat as they are.  So, let me try to add texture, while keeping it simple.  Now, I am remembering a resist technique done with salt on silk… If I can reproduce it, that might do the trick.  Here’s one of the paintings, with a too flat background. Silk Dye over Drawing

So the technique I remember involves dipping the silk into a bath of water and LOTS of salt.  Next dry it, press it, and use a mist of dye to saturate the fabric.  The effect of the salt crystals is that it resists the dye, keeps it from flowing, and preserves tiny white or un-dyed spots wherever the salt crystals are, giving a pointillist effect.

The salt to water ratio I used was roughly 8 cups of water to 3/4 lbs of plain table salt.  I boiled the water on the stovetop, dissolved the salt as much as possible, and removed the pan from the heat.   I dropped in three of my winter tree painting series (they are small paintings).  I let the salt water infuse the silk for 20 minutes or so, and then removed the paintings to the sink and let them cool.  Oh!  I burned myself at this stage! They were so hot!  Next time I’ll make sure to use a wooden spoon to remove them…Drawing Stencil at the Window

Don’t rinse them!  When they are cool, gently squeeze out the excess and hang the silk to dry.  The next day they were dry- and I could see the salt crystals evenly distributed, encrusting the silk.  I pressed the silk with a warm iron, to get a nice drawing surface.  Ready to make a stencil

I taped the paintings to the window- so I could trace a stencil using recycled paper.  I traced the trees, then cut the stencils for each of the three paintings.

After cutting the stencil, I stretched the painting back on the frame, and placed the stencil on top.  Then I sprayed the painting with dye in a mist bottle,  to get some background color.  Cut Paper Stencil

Finally I ended up with a softer background for each of the paintings.   Now I will need to steam set it, and only then rinse out the salt.  A vinegar rinse  after that should make them soft and luminous again.  I’m not quite at that stage- the last painting is still drying on the frame…

After Spray Dyeing using Stencil

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3 responses to “Winter Tree Series- Can salt resolve a problem?

  1. I love trees! These look fabulous, and I’m looking forward to seeing how they look when you’re finished.

  2. It’s looking good, great effect on the trees with the painting:)

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