This week I have been experimenting with making the fabric for my silk dress. I have two ideas going on at present, and I am not sure which one I want to use for the SWAP – the light, colourful flowers versus the dark, dripping damask. I will probably make up both dresses as they appeal to different aspects of my personality – I will decide which one to include in the SWAP later this month.
I already posted my dripping damask experiments, inspired by Alexander McQueen. I would like to produce a similar effect on heavyweight navy silk (ex Nicole Farhi) that I got at Simply Fabrics. I am currently considering how to transfer the design to such a thick, dark fabric (holding it up to the window, even though we have quite a lot of sun at the moment doesn’t help Stephanie. And light boxes do not have powerful enough light, unfortunately. I am thinking stencil?).
My second experiment involves painting large flowers on white crepe silk using hot wax batik and brightly coloured silk paint. This is something I have already done a few times befroe, but usually for linings. Where you can see a greyish, slightly shiny effect this is the cooled wax. This is so that part of the pattern will remain white. The red speckles on top of the wax are caused by me daubing the paint on willy-nilly. When the wax is ironed out these little particles of paint absorb into the silk creating a nice effect.
To be honest I had meant to paint the pink flowers, add some green leaves, then paint hot wax over them to protect them, then imerse the fabric in a vat of dark grey dye. This would help bring the design into the SWAP, which has bright and deep shades in it. But I got a bit carried away and painted the background with a turquoise-blue background instead. Again you can see how the green paint sits on the surface. I made one fairly large piece that I could use as a skirt section if I decided to go with this colourway and effect. I liked the way the blue and pink complemented each other, with the touches of green and yellow. I really like this colour combination. The variations in the colour of the red/pink for example is created simply by dilution of the one shade of red. The green is mixed from blue and yellow. It is a very simple, very satisfying process. I like painting but I don’t like getting things exact, and I am just too messy and expressive to plan out where the flowers are going, or their size or relation to each other. I could certainly get a better, more balanced arrangement if I planned a bit more, but if I planned it and it went wrong I would be disappointed. So I like this loose style approach, somewhat instinctive where the finished fabric (and garment) is full of happy accidents.
Once the silk paint dries (very quickly) it is just a matter of applying a hot iron on top of newspaper or any slightly absorbent paper. You need to put lots of newspaper underneath too, to protect your ironing board.
After pressing the fabric I put it in the washing machine to remove the remaining wax staining. I don’t have enough for a dress here, so if I go with this for the SWAP I need to make a second piece. That is slightly challenging as it is hard to keep the colour ways similar, which Is why I try to use them straight out of the jar rather than mixing custom colours each time. Also I adore bright floral patterns – as you can see I was wearing my 2015 SWAP skirt, with last year’s SWAP floral cardigan. When you have a consistent cool-bright palette everything goes with everything (not sure about the slippers though).
Have you ever done batik? I just love the warmth, smell and feel of the hot wax. It is such simple but effective technology. It’s a little bit unstructured, in a good way, but you can get very precise results with it if you really want to.