Returning to French Resist

I wanted to title this “Returning to my silk roots”, but that seemed odd without the explanation….. Basically i have been dying and painting silk for well over a decade, but the last 8-10 years have been focused more on Japanese techniques, cumulatively known as Shibori.  They were not how i learned silk painting.


French Resist is a lot like a coloring book.  Silk is stretched onto a frame where it is held firmly (not tight, but stretched out), and with a clear (or metallic substance) a design is drawn on the silk.  Resist acts like a barrier for the silk paint.  The design should be simple like a coloring book picture, or a stained glass window.  Each “piece” must have no break in the resist.  Once the resist is dry the piece can be painted.

I use a sumi brush, and i prefer to have the silk wet.  gently touching the tip of the paint soaked brush to the silk and the color runs, spreading out to every nook and cranny until it reached the resist.  And stops.  The resist is exactly that… a barrier to the paint. in the photos above you can see that i drew the word “Cleveland”, and when dry i painted Cerulian Blue inside the lettering.  I am experimenting with surface finishes and reactive elements that change the texture or appearance of the paint.  One substance that works to create very interesting results is salt.  I have a larger granular salt that when applied will pull pigment to itself.  As you look at my photos it will look as if the colors are grainy – that would be the salt set on the wet paint.  I plan to take better pictures of the next scarf, documenting the process.

I have not worked in French Resist for some years, because it makes me so very nervous.  Funny term for an artist, right.  What i mean is that each little section has to be completely closed in.  Any gap will mean its a breach in the resist barrier which allows the paint to flow out to spaces it should not go. It is the kind of project that makes control freak perfectionists go crazy.  I hope i have grown a bit easier on myself, but honestly i am not majorly fond of this process.  I love the results when they are good.