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.
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…
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.
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.
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…