These two friendly goldfishes have been hand painted on silk. I painted the silk so that when made into a top it would wrap around the body and join with a single seam at the back.
Preparing the painting
Before I started painting directly onto the silk, I painted a quick, life size study with acrylic paint on butcher’s paper.
I always like to do a rough, life size sketch so that I can stick it on the wall and use it as a reference while I paint. It also gives me a sense of the impact the painting will make. This is particularly important because this silk is being painted to be worn. I used acrylic paint to paint the two gold fish: a fantail and a black telescope (black moor).
Painting the Silk
When the black gutta outline was dry I started to add colour with thin washes of Pebeo Setasilk heat-set fabric dye.
The colours are quite light at this stage but they will be built up with many layers of dye to create the gold and black of the fishes. I would like to be able to say that I’m very careful as I paint but really I just slop the dye on. It’s like painting with watercolours!
Fixing Gutta Mistakes
Sometimes I make ‘mistakes’. As I progressed with the silk painting I realised that my fantail gold fish was looking a bit sad. But the black gutta – that stuff doesn’t wash out! I needed something opaque to cover the black outlines. I mixed some fabric medium with white acrylic paint and gave it a go – and it worked! It covered the black gutta perfectly! I also found that it made a beautiful glowing effect over the coloured dyes so I used it to add some scales under the fish.
The white at his mouth was a bit intense so I softened it with some more washes of dye over the top of the acrylic paint.
The Finished Silk Painting
After heat setting the painting with a dry iron for 5-7 mins, the silk painting is finished! I always give it another gentle hand wash and press before it leaves the studio for good.
Turning the Hand Painted Silk into a Top
The fish went off to their new home. This is the calico pattern for the silk top lying over the painted silk. The shaping for the top comes from the pleats on the back of the shoulders. It has an open V at the back so there is enough room to fit the head through without needing a button or zip.
This is my sister Bonnie wearing her new goldfish silk top. She drafted the sewing pattern and made the top herself. Doesn’t she look fabulous with her two fishy friends!