Category: Silk Painting

01 Feb

Sage Dyed Silk Triskele Torus Design

Experimental Silk Bleaching and Painting with Plant Dyes

This is my first attempt at using plant dyes (rather than commercial ones) on previously plant-dyed silk.  Silk dyed with rosehips was rather pale, so I over-dyed silk Habotai 10 with sage.  Previous triskele designs done in soya wax  (as resist) were only dull yellow and darker after the sage bath, so I bleached out further, brushing lemon juice around  in rough and larger manner to give vague paler guide.

  • Lemon juice with brush
  • De-colourant (commercial product) thinned with water, applied brush.

Lemon juice was brushed around the linear borders of triskelles, and the tie dyed star-shapes in background.  It seems to have removed the sage, but not the original peachy rosehip, which shows through.  This is a very useful tool to use as design outlines or rough out areas.  It needs testing on different plant dyes and see what colour results.

Lemon juice bleaching looked yellow when wet (sage dye dissolving?).  It produced only slightly paler areas, about 30% less of the ground colour, but gives an outline to follow later.  Triskeles were followed by placing tracing of design underneath silk, and sketching over on the silk with water soluble pens (available in blue and purple). To emphasize paleness, the de-colourant paste (thinned 50/50) was used to give light outlines: to see the whole design, and to allow for colour to be added over.  I iron steamed the de-colourant areas to dissolve.

A new shape - a torus in line form was added.   Light star shapes were originally tie dyed resist at original dying so they are pale in the torus two centres.

At this stage, perfection isn't so important as I prefer to have some unevenness, and some overlapping of layers.  In this instance, the overlapping of transparent torus over the original triskeles is an experiment.  Silk was rinsed in mild soapy water after the ironing/fixing out of the de-colourant.

*. *. *. *. *

OVER PAINTING SILK WITH NATURAL DYES -  Experimental design ideas to practice with dyes

Next, water based gutta was applied by both pipette and brush over the lines around and within the triskeles and the torus.  Gutta plain, and gutta with added dye Madder, Woad and  Mimosa Brown thinned, were used for thin and thicker lines around outside of triskeles.   Madder, woad and mimosa dyes were painted with brush within the outlined design areas.

Lemon juice successfully faded out some triskele colours painted too bright behind the 'torus' area.  A 'ghost effect' is produced.  Angels were placed within the torus ovals, utilising the pale tie-died star forms. De colourant had also been used beforehand to lighten the 'angel wings' area. (After steaming wings went rather yellow, so de colourant needed again).


Experimental result from 2 hrs steaming.  About 70% of natural pigment seemed to stay in tact with a faded overall 'aged' effect.  This could work well used in abstract designs, where clear outlines not needed.  The gutta steamed out completely, leaving the dyes behind.   The lines within the torus are quite a good effect.  Madder stayed fairly well, woad quite paler, and gold-brown colours used in the gutta line application seem to have infused the whole areas. Turmeric was painted in some areas around designs, which may have spread out adding an unwanted yellow overall.

Steamed Silk Experimental Design

Strength of colour was lost;  faded effect is interesting and can be utilised for 'antique' designs.

The many different lines of gutta outlines, and infill dyed lines create a subtle interesting effect, even though the brighter contrasting colour outlines are lost.

Madder turned duller, ruddy brownish, and other gold and brown outlines merged into each other.  Woad blue faded to pale. (woad without additive)

Actually a good background for embroidery.

[Photographed in evening lamp light]


De-colourant repainted over areas originally lighter

Due to the loss of colour contrast, I used chemical decolourant discharge paste over some main circle lines and the angels.  I forgot to use it weaker strength and got a yellowish result. The first result was aesthetically better.

  • Some torus rings, triskeles, celtic knots and angel wings lightened in rough large brushed areas.

  • Areas are steam ironed to activate discharge

Coloured details can be added again over top, possibly with synthetic dyes due to the detailed colour needed for angels, bird and lion.  Other discharge pastes may be tried over for this experimental piece.  Eventually I hope the piece will be usable as centre piece to a patchwork quilt.


CONCLUSION:  Natural dyes are good for background areas.

Gutta outlines (to prevent dye spread) were coloured with natural dye, which mostly faded out after steaming.  Their wobbly outlines (created by gutta pipette and nib application), gives an interest better than exact lines.

Lines as feature colour were faded.  MADDER kept colour best in the outlines, and will be useful for silk design outlines.

Coloured brush strokes can be overlaid for intermixed tones.

15 Jan

Sage dyed silk

Silk dyed with Rosehips in 2023 was very pale, so I decided to over dye with sage; leaves and twigs from a large autumn picking from my allotment.  The first soaked piece (above image) produced a good deep ochre-gold; the second soaked piece produced a paler more yellow ocre.  Both colours are subtle and acceptable for adding painted designs over.  Currently Celtic Triskele designs, with additions.


Sage-dyed silk sample square showing the difference between sage ochre colour and Indian Bean Tree/raspberry cane dyed silk behind.  The sage twigs and leaves were added to the pigment weakened dye bath.

Shibori stitching was experimented with again (as with the raspberry cane dyed silk);

stitching around the circles in the Triskele design, pulling tight to prevent dye sepedge.

Shapes were also painted in hot soya wax, so dye bath had to be barely warm to prevent melting of wax.

Silk Over-dyed with Sage

First soaking of predyed silk (rosehips) in sage dye bath.

Areas of design of Triskeles had been painted with soy wax heated resist.  It always leaves a 'grease mark' or a darker dyed area; maybe a mixture of both.  Shibori stitching for resist circles also used.

2nd soaking of silk in sage dyepot - pale ochre with dirty effect

Gutta was also used as resist but areas have turned bright yellow after rinsing and ironing. This may be concentrated dye areas, or a reaction with the gutta.

The design is vaguely apparent and the abstract effect is good.  This effect will be seen behind top painting in colours.

Lemon juice was painted on the design outlines, but it wasn't very clear, so a professional discharge paste was used to give a clearer look to the Triskele designs, for working over.  It worked well enough.

The abstract effect is still in the background, to leave some as is.

Triskele design outlined quickly with brush dipped in discharge paste - mix approximately of 5:3 water-paste is enough to do the job without risk of clogging the fabric (which happened on wool when paste applied 100%).  New natural dye colours can now be added to the design in both yellow and paler discharged areas.  The pale rosehip pink is visible after discharging. This photo taken while paste drying in window.  Dried result is another paler ochre.

22 Mar

Comfrey Soy Waxed Roses

Comfrey Over-died - Wax Resist Roses on Habotai silk

Experimental use of soy wax with stencils of rose shapes, [link to wax stencils] in cold comfrey dye bath.  Wax cracks in the cool liquid which can be explored. (see floating wax fragments) I emphasised crackled result by gripping rose shapes with centre point at top of finger hold, to ensure there was a crackled pattern bursting from the centre.   This technique has good potential for an overall soy wax design or florals painted on silk before immersing in a dye bath.

Petal Bundle Dye Preparation

Comfrey dyed rose wax stencilled Habotai silk with Khafir Lilly petals, common pink Mallow and dried wild thyme purple seed heads.  Several silk pieces can be prepared and added to the same bundle dye.  I also added an Ahimsa silk piece from a previous weak woad dye.

Silk pieces are sprayed with household vinegar and carefully folded and wrapped into a bundle, rolled, and tied tightly with string.  Not every petal produces strong colour in final outcome, which depends on pressure applied within bundle. A solid tight string casing may be better.

LEFT:  Result on Ahimsa silk, purple blurred petal impressions, possibly due to piece being in centre of bundle, and/or previous woad dye on that piece.  RIGHT:  Result on Habotai silk, scanty light red petal impressions.  (impressions were less than imagined, probably due to loose string tied bundle.)  A large spread of many petals may be needed for more final impressions.

21 Mar

Rose Antique and Burgundy Kimono

Silk and Satin Kimono Dress ' ROSE ANTIQUE'

Patchwork features hand painted habotai silk top and lower ahimsa silk painted patchwork


Patchworks created over burgundy polyester satine shirt/nightshirt which forms lining.  Existing collar and button welt are utilised on the outside, while patchworks are created exactly to fit over shirt shape.  The burgundy satine has a pink rose print which top fabrics coordinate with.  Sleeves have been extended some inches, with darker purple Ahimsa silk borders left over from a previously logwood-dyed silk.  Two different silk painting pieces were created to coordinate with all chosen fabrics.   Loose size fits up to 42" bust.  Model is average size.

Silk Painting (top):  Comfrey dyed Habotai silk with hand painted Roses over pale soya wax resist, Celtic Triskels and red motifs from one of the prints.  The cream silk looks antique in tone when laid over the darker burgundy.

Silk Painting (hem):  Hawthorn dyed Ahimsa silk with bundle dyed texture of Sycamore leaves, then hand painted over with leaf outlines and roses, with painted motifs copied from a coordinate.   Silk painting method below...


LEFT Centre:  Triskeles and Roses on Habotai silk. 

 RIGHT Left: Sycamore leaves and Roses on Ahimsa silk.

COLLAR:  Utilised from lining shirt. The outside of the shirt becomes the inside lining of Kimono.  BACK:  Burgundy colour scheme echoed in intricate centre print on voile.

Side Views

Sleeves are extended from underlying burgundy shirt to create 'kimono' style.  Dark purple remnant of a silk painting forms wide extended border.  Lined with colour coordinating viscose in lilac cloud print.  The original outline of the shirt tail slits is followed.


ROSE ANTIQUE BURGUNDY KIMONO available £160.00 - Direct from maker.  (new purchasing coming soon...)

FRONT BUTTONING - Upper - Middle - Lower    BUTTONS - Heart shaped painted wood.

SLEEVES  -  Lining is viscose which extends to outer sleeve to form a border with dark purple, logwood-dyed, Ahimsa painted silk patchwork.

HEM BOTTOM LAYER - Original curved slit outlines followed of underlying burgundy shirt (as lining)

Techniques used in Silk Painting preparations

SOYA WAX RESIST:  My own photos were used, all enlarged to similar size, to make paper stencil cut-outs, for comfrey-soy-waxed-roses.  Rose petal areas were roughly painted in hot soya wax.  When wax was well set, the silk was placed in a cold comfrey dye bath, which showed cracking of wax after immersion, so I squeezed the roses slightly around a centre point, which produced the cracks as lines from the centre of pale rose shapes.

STEAM PRINTED PETALS and seeds are imprinted by bundle-steam method. Result is a few colour imprints of colour in areas between the roses.  Rose petals shapes were lost by the cracking effect, so they were painted finally with a more stylized curly petals.  Triangle was cut out where something was stained.  This was utilised as neck area on kimono construction.  CONCLUSION:  This technique would be good on darker backgrounds, to be tried!

Sycamore Roses Steam Printed Leaves and Painted Roses on Ahimsa Silk

Sycamore leaf steamed bundle print produced a brown texture, interesting by itself; however for this garment, I added more over painting to match with patchwork fabric designs.  The red  outlines weren't needed; a blurred background to bring out the leaf areas would have sufficed.

02 Mar

Silk Painting dresses Kokopelli and Persian Piri

Two dresses featuring silk paintings of mythical figures from two different cultures.  Piri from Persian art meaning beautiful and graceful girl, or supernatural being similar to angels.   Kokopelli the flute playing seed spreader from southwestern Native Americas.

Persian Piri - Dress with 'Piri' feature silk painting

We get our word fairy from peri/feri winged spirit in Persian mythology. Fairy comes to us from Arabic which has no 'p'.

Dress modelled at Exeter Cathedral Green Craft Fair before crimson sash was added.  The sash echoes the sash in the painting. Dress began life as a short top without sleeves, collar, or lower frills: from an earlier created range with the Piri silk painting rectangles. A deep teal blue version was sold.  After finding the yellow ocre lace blouse in exact colour match; the collar, sleeves and frill were added.  The lower cotton abstract print frill was also added; which links to the Piri colours and gives a weight to the dress.

   PERSIAN PIRI available direct from maker: £85.00 - (new purchasing coming soon...)

Kokopelli - flute player features in silk painting with feathers, hand and spirals

Motif outlines were made with wax batik technique. Melted wax applied with a tjang gives a very fluid line and must be moved rapidly before wax cools, or causes blobs.  The feathers are outlined in nomal gutta resist for silk.

After applying dye, silk is steamed, and washed to remove any wax or other gutta resist paste used in the outlines.  Embroidery is used to give definition to motifs.

Habotai silk stretched on a frame.  Motifs of feathers, spirals, Kokopelli flute player, hand outlines. Resist outlines stop dye from spreading when applied.

Predominantly Kokopelli as a ‘fertility deity’ is a bearer of seeds and the flute could have been used to help the plants grow with music, or simply announce his coming.  Its quite likely such characters travelled for trade through South America and North America, as is believed from the rock petroglyphs.  Images show either head feathers, or antennae; some with balls on the end, which almost look like a map to the stars; which might indicate planting time, as recognised by star positions.

     Kokopelli (koh-koh-pell-ee) is a deity and symbol of fertility recognized by several Native American groups in the Southwestern part of the country. Like other fertility gods, Kokopelli is known to preside over both agriculture and childbirth….survived from the ancient Anasazi    Indian mythology. Kokopelli is also a prominent character in Hopi legends.

A Native American video explanation of how Kokopelli as a man, not a god, brings all the seeds from the previous world. The ‘flute’ maybe a medicine pipe.  He could be a simple seed seller, or it could even refer to past colonisation of earth.

   KOKOPELLI is available.  £85.00 Direct from maker.  (new purchasing coming soon...)

11 Feb

Medicine Wheel Silk Painting

MEDICINE WHEEL design on 3 garments 

Silk painted:  Medicine Wheel Sundress - Medicine Wheel Mini-Kimono

Printed and embroideredMedicine Wheel print on dress 'Desert Walk' and Dress 'Champagne'


Physical - Emotional - Mental - Spiritual

The four aspects written in my painting's 4 quarters - Native American teacher explains the Four Worlds and the underlying meaning of '4' as a repetitive sacred number theme. There are also four basic elements of earth, air, fire, water.   The geometric embroidered sigil symbols are from a website; and represent metaphysical states.

Sundress Making

Sundress is built around the central silk panel, on tailor's dummy.  First attach strips to silk painting and band above bust, joined under arms.   Side flounces are a useful idea for fuller hips. Attach to side panels. (See pattern shape here

Back strips are created fitted to back, with flare vents below waist for movement and design interest. Back buttons for a tighter waist fit.

Machine embroidery used on the symbols.

SUNDRESS MEDICINE WHEEL available: £90.00 Direct from maker.  (new purchasing coming soon...)

Summer Kimono Jacket in patchwork silks

Medicine Wheel Kimono Making

  • Fabrics came from two dresses with interesting border prints: dark brown viscose with large pale green circles, and pale blue and brown silk print with circular border motifs positioned for sleeve edging.
  • A blue/gold tartan was chosen as a highlight colour, by using blue/gold patch to top section of collar and lower down.
  • Kimono type collar is created by wide double strip sewn to neck and front edgings.  Using a seam join at back neck, the best shape can be created to fit neck well, by shaping at an angle on a model or dummy.  For a fold-over collar, upper part needs to be wider (shape seam wider), or use back section cut on bias (across the grain, for stretch).

Making - Sleeves

  • Sleeves are simply the gaps left at the body fabric rectangle edges, left undone (seen at shoulders on dummy).
  • A four-inch strip of the blue/gold tartan was inserted below armhole space for better shaped fit. Strip needs tapering for about 4-6 inches up to sleeve edge opening.
  • A bright blue turquoise fabric was chosen for inside the sleeves, as decorative contrast and when sleeves are rolled up.
  • Narrow bows were already on the fabric used so was left in situ on the sleeve edge.
  • If sleeves are long, then turn-ups are useful using an inside cotton fabric to hold them in place well.
  • Design washed out paler than planned after steaming too long, so machine stitching is used to highlight outlines.

Kimono happy

Silk kimono sold to Jacqui when my garments were sold in local organic fabrics shop.

Length appears shorter on a taller woman than when fitted on dummy during making.  Photo shows how the loose kimono is suitable over other shirts and T-shirts and so looks good on any size.

The silk painting is on her left side, out of view.

Pocket placed over contrasting brown patched piece is a good distinctive decoration.

(shop owner's photo). 

Medicine Wheel  on linen and cotton dress Desert Walk (Sold)

This version of 'Medicine Wheel' was the result of test sample prints at the Double Elephant Print workshop for Mac design 'silk screen' printing. I used my photographs of other 'Medicine Wheel' designs, amalgamated, but there was only two 'screens' (polyester printing screens) each, so the result only shows two of the colour areas.  However, the abstract quality is interesting.  This was a quick way of getting many designs on white, grey, and beige linen and cotton samples.  This applied panel has two prints one above the other over a beige finely striped cotton, which aided the textural background.  Print ink available was not suitable for silk.

Buyer Story:  The craft fair was a washout on a windy and rainy stormy day.  Joce turned up late, from far out of town, after many crafters had left due to bad weather.  I had stayed until the end and was fortunate Joce liked my unique linen printed dress very much.  Its just right for her; the size, style and colour. She was very pleased with her original find on its first display show.

I have several samples remaining of this batch printed 'Medicine Wheel' design on cream and grey, and another dress 'Desert Flare' (not featured).  Also seen nicely on white linen in 'Opaline Frolic'.

'Making' images to be uploaded here.

'Medicine Wheel' print on Dress CHAMPAGNE (available)

Dress features two 'Medicine Wheel' prints grey-on-grey either side of front with embroidered central symbols.  Existing fitted bodice top was the inspiration, cut from a dress, preserving champagne satin frills.  Black and cream fabrics coordinate with the fine cream and black lines in ridged top.  Black viscose utilises an existing dress frill for interesting positioning.

Background image is from a range of small murals featuring Peruvian plant spirits painted in the tropical biome of Eden Project, Cornwall. Bromeliad Colita de Gavilan (Billbergia sp.) is depicted as the headdress of the spirit.

22 May

Butterflies and Pansies Silk Dress

Amelia Hoskins / Dress, Silk Painting / / 0 Comments

Pink Champagne Tea Party Dress

Delightful summery patchwork fun tea party dress in pink, plum, lilac and pansy prints.

Pink silk top from a blouse has a bias cut across the weave grain so stretches across variety of bust shapes without other shaping.

Side zip under arm enables dressing.  Shot-taffeta changes from plum pink to lilac in light.

Author's unique Ahimsa silk painted front panel has butterflies and pansies, with centre design of Nigella seed pod and added embroidery.  Old rose lace is appliqued over corners which covers greener palm leaves on silk beneath.  Background of silk painting is logwood dyed batik.


A long pink silk sash was added to dress to fit smaller sizes at the waist: same silk as front bodice.

Fabric Inspirations

Pink/purple shot taffeta and pink silk were the starting inspirations.

Back centre panel is plum silk.  Brown/beige cotton print adds contrast; also multi coloured cotton pansy print.

The old rose lace lightens the effect over the long pink/lilac shot taffeta panels, and links with lace applique on front panel.

Sleeves were an added after thought from fine bundle-dyed silk sample. Lower frills are from a blouse.

Pink silk sash available.

BUTTERFLIES AND PANSIES available £160.00. direct from maker.  (new purchasing coming soon...) 

Fabric Coordinates and Background to Silk Painting

Choosing fabrics to go with the logwood lilac dyed batik Ahimsa silk

Partial painting butterflies and nigella seed pod motifs

Pansy print used to copy pansy colour ideas from

Purple, plum, and pansy print coordinates

 Silk painting with coordinate fabrics

22 May

Hopi Bird Silk Designs Dresses

Amelia Hoskins / Dress, Silk Painting / / 0 Comments

Hopi Bird Silk Designs - Three Dresses

Dresses Available

Dresses with silk painting of stylized Hopi birds

Opaline Rose dress has tier of grey silk painting with Hopi birds and embroidered Native American quotations

Red Hopi dress has two front silk panels with stylized Hopi birds - black/red on white, and red/white on black.  Patchworks uses a red linen skirt and black viscose print in long red dress design.  Vogue pattern used: V1234 by Sandra Betzina.

Grey Hopi pinafore has front silk panel of Hopi Birds with feathers and native American sayings combined with grey cotton panels from a Per Una skirt. Winter thickness. Slim fit: (UK size 8 bust, UK size 10 hips)

All dresses modelled by visiting Spanish teacher guest Marian

Grey Hop Pinafore - Design Motifs

Bird designs are 'curved' exactly as the originals on Hopi pottery, but applied to a two dimensional surface of Habotai silk. Feathers were added around the birds together with a selection of embroidered Native American quotations.

Printing Experiment:  Texture of gold on grey is made using cardboard print block.  Dried corn cob leaves which have fine narrow ridges were glued onto a cereal packet cardboard, varnished (acrylic water based) 3 layers.  The maze leaves fibre formation has quite pronounced ridges, which resulted, when printed, in natural looking printed lines.  I used epaissisant thickener with gutta as a printing paste applied to the cardboard printing block, then pressed on to the silk, and dried before adding the grey dye.  The end result after steaming was mostly a blur, but still provides an interesting painterly background texture, which could be developed with different colour overlays, where overlapping lines would create extra colours.

    Native American Quotations embroidered on silk: 

"Walk lightly in the spring: mother Earth is pregnant" ~ Kiowa

"Plants are our brothers and sisters; they talk to us and if we listen we can hear them" ~ Apache

"After dark all cats are leopards" ~ Zumi

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave ~ 

Red Hopi Bird silk painting

Dress side panels show red/orange/black on white ground, and red/orange/white on black ground.

The vogue pattern facilitated side extended pieces which hang well in silk. Red linen bodice is made from a skirt.  Polyester red/orange print used for upper and center panel.

I've always been intrigued by Native American culture and found images of abstract bird designs of the Hopi Indians applied to pottery. They reached a height of decorative abstraction, adapting bird designs to fit over any curved pottery surface; a brilliant applied design, in natural pigmented black, terracotta and cream colours.

RED HOPI LINEN DRESS side view. Lower contrast pieces are as the Vogue pattern. Dress is shaped wide at lower hips, then tied to fit hip size. Black sleeves are model's own garment.

RED HOPI LINEN DRESS back view. Beige cotton back piece, with black spotted viscose lower panels.

Hopi Bird silk painted design in russets, orange, pinks with embroidered Native American sayings

Autumn colours pinafore.  - Brown, russet and pinks of silk painted stylized Hopi bird sections.

Coordinating with brown fabrics.  Pattern taken from a dress bought in France. (Sold)

Images copyright Amelia Jane Hoskins Please email for use permission.