Believe it or not, this is one of the most common questions I get asked. It’s really important to know what you can and cant’ do with silk paints and dyes so it’s good that this question has been raised yet again as it can’t be said often enough.
So what is the answer? Well, it’s yes and no. Depending on what you are doing.
First of all, a quick definition of what iron fix paints are. They are bottles of paints for the hobby silk artist, made of pigments. You apply them with your brush, dilute them with water and fix them using a warm/hot iron from the reverse for 3 minutes. The paints sit on top of the fabric, leaving a matt finish. The silk loses some of its softness and sheen.
The steam fix dyes are acid-based, can be diluted ad infinitum and are steam fixed so that they bond with the silk, allowiing the fabric to retain its silky sheen and drape.
So basically the paints give you a quick fix. 🙂 If you dont’ have a steamer, or someone who can steam for you, then you need to opt for these.
And can you combine the two types? If you are painting with the acid-based dyes and then steam them, it is possible to add some iron fix paints afterwards which you would then iron to fix. So create your artwork with the dyes, steam it, and then add highlights with some favourite iron fix paints but don’t put it near the steamer, whatever you do!
What you musn’t do is paint with both the iron fix paints and the acid-based dyes and then try to steam the silk. This will just get really messy. And ruin your artwork into the bargain. The paints cannot bond with the silk and so leak all over the paper and down through the layers. They will also leak over your artwork and mess it up. You will get pale and blotchy patches where the paint was originally applied.
And remember that you cannot iron steam fix dyes into the silk. They will wash out in water as I found out much to my surprise in the very early days. I had a couple of bottles of what I thought was paint. I lovingly painted a picture and carefully ironed it for 3 minutes, thinking I was fixing the colours. When I held it under the tap, a constant stream of vibrant colour gushed out of the silk and rushed down the plughole. Lesson learnt.
Please always check at your supply store what you are buying. Read the bottle label or ask for assistance in buying the right kind if you are unsure.
And don’t worry if things do go wrong. It happens to us all. And you won’t be so quick to do it again so it’s a very effective way oflearning.
Happy painting. 🙂