Gutta For Silk Painting – What’s the Best Kind to Use?

When you’re starting out with silk painting it’s hard to know which materials to go for. Yes, there are many books and sites out there telling you which brands to go for but often they have a vested interest in promoting one over the other. So this post is just going to take a look at the pro’s and con’s of gutta for silk painting and leave the choice up to you.

I was just wondering how many of you actually know where the word gutta comes from. Well, it’s from the gutta percha tree which grows in Indonesia. The latex-like gutta from this tree was used in all sorts of industrial and medical applications

Gold gutta in plastic bottle with nib

Gold gutta in plastic bottle with nib

including the lining of golf balls. One of the types of gutta available to silk painters is solvent based and seemingly contains this gutta, which has a rubbery feel to it.

Serti or resist technique is a method used in silk painting to create boundaries which limit the free flow of silk. Gutta is applied in small bottles with nozzles on them to the silk so that it pentrates the fabric. As it dries, it hardens to form a barrier which gives form to your painting. This is my preferred method of silk painting and indeed, I wouldn’t be able to create these detailed mandalas without the resist technique.

So back to the different types of gutta for silk painting. Basically you can choose between solvent-based gutta and water-based resist. And what is the difference? Okay, let’s start with the solvent-based type. You always have to remember that when working with solvent, it’s really important to keep your working space well-ventilated. This type of gutta needs to be removed after your artwork is complete and the only way to do it is by dry-cleaning which some of you might find impractical. One big advantage is that you can paint your dyes on very quickly after applying this gutta.

The other type is water-based and technically isn’t called gutta, but resist. However, I still refer to it as gutta. What you need to watch out for is that it needs a bit longer to dry because the dyes can dissolve it a little if it is still too wet. One great way to speed up this process is to give your painting a blast with the hairdryer. I do that in my workshops so that we can get on with the colours. As to the question of dry-cleaning, this doesn’t apply to the water-based version.After you’ve fixed the dyes into your silk either by steaming or heat treatment (ironing), your can wash any clear gutta out by hand. One of the big advantages of the water-based version is that there are no fumes to contend with.

Now my preference is to use gold metallic gutta. The bad news is that you can’t dry-clean the solvent-based version. But I choose the water-based type because I want the lines to be a major feature of my finished work anyway.

However, I have had situations where I have tried to wash out gutta after I have changed my mind about the composition of my artwork. If you leave it too long, you might have a pretty hard job on your hands.

Now I wanted to address one particular point here. It is one which crops up again and again and I must admit that I have never had any difficulties with it. Many artists maintain that when they have completed their silk painting and then subsequently steam it, they never know how the finished work is going to end up because the lines tend to move and smear, letting the dyes blur at the edges.

I have never experienced this, either with iron-fixing or with steam-fixing but this appears to depend on the chosen brand.

In case you are interested in which brand I use, it is by Marabu Silk. I have used gold and silver gutta, as well as the clear version. All of these are the water-soluble types as I’m not keen on fumes and dry-cleaning.

I hope this helps. I am intending to post something on the art of resist technique itself so watch out for that soon. If you have any questions, please post them here and I’ll do my best to help out. Enjoy.

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57 Responses to Gutta For Silk Painting – What’s the Best Kind to Use?

  1. Kamlesh says:

    Thanks a lot for ur help…i need to kno one more thing…i have javana water based gutta(20ml tube),wat im not getting is do i have to remove the resist before steamfix the fabric or do i have to dry clean the fabric to remove resist first and then steamfix it,im really confused and not getting any help from any one as silk painting with gutta is not very fimilier in india…diffrent colours have diffrent instruction manual so even the tutorial videos are not helpful enough…cud u please explain me the proccess brifly…before steam fix,if i dryclean to remove resist,will it hamper the art work…please help

  2. Carol Arrington says:

    A Question – I made a beautiful scarf in a silk painting class in which we microwaved the
    wet scarf after applying the silk dye. Unfortunately the scarf was not wet enough and the
    end result was several very small holes in it. I was told I could fix this with gold or silver
    gutta. I would appreciate any suggestions on how to do this.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Dear Carol

      I’m sorry this happened to you. It shouldn’t have if things had been done properly. The key part of microwaving silk is ensuring it doesn’t burn and that only happens when the silk is literally sodden wet. However if you do have some burn holes in the silk, simple brush some thicker gutta over the damaged areas. Get out some plastic sheeting or something similar and if you can, find a way to suspend the silk to dry over this without it touching anything. You could even suspend each end in a pile of heavy books.

      Either squeeze out a larger lump of gutta over the hole, enough to seal it, or use a brush. You can then use a fine brush tip to make something out of the bloop such as a flower, or leaf. You can also dab some on from the reverse too to properly seal it. Then let this thoroughly dry. It may still look a bit unsightly but it will settle down and go much flatter when it is dry. Then you can iron it for 3 minutes from the reverse.

      I made a video on microwaving silk. Here is the link in case you’d like to have a look: . If you try this yourself again, just make sure the silk is really wet, still dripping when you transfer it into the bowl.

      I hope this helps.

  3. robyn says:

    Have just discovered this site and your helpful suggestions.
    My art shop only stocks a French brand dye and water based gutta called Lefranc & Bourgeois. Used to stock Marabu which I preferred as more selection of colours and seemed richer and brighter. I was told they(Marabu) closed down, but I note that you mention that brand so can they be ordered online?
    Also my main question is this gutta, which comes in tubes with plastic nozzle attached seems to go firm in the tube and I’m wondering how it can be softened to a fluid consistency again ? I bought extra tubes when they were on sale but perhaps this was false economy ! Appreciate any help.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Dear Robyn

      Marabu stopped making steam fix dyes but they still sell silk paints and liners. One of the difficulties in working with the liners/gutta is that they do indeed clog up the nozzles. There are a few things you can do.

      The first ist to make sure that every time you are finished with doing line work you take the nozzle and give it a thorough clean before putting the lid back on the tube. My suggestion would be to not buy the complete tubes with nozzles but instead buy the glass jars which you can then pour into the little plastic bottles with nozzles. That way you only need to use as much as you will need and the rest stays fresh in the glass jar.

      If your nozzle has become completely clogged, you cann soak it in some boiling water and then use a wire to gently pull out the softened mass to clean it again. It is time-consuming and can be a source of frustration. I opt for cleaning the nozzles with hot water immediately and not using the ready filled tubes.

      I hope that helps.

      Warm wishes


  4. Liene says:

    Hi Fiona
    I am from California . I started my silk painting in Europe and used marabu gutta liner, but it was long time ago I don’t remember if the marabu liner was sticky after steaming . I had not the best performance with gutta liners from ” jacquard”. After steaming they appear sticky.
    Could you please share your experience about the best brands to use besides marabu .
    Im limited to U.S. choices

  5. Payal says:

    Dear Fiona
    What a nice article, it is very helpful. I am going to paint a silk dupatta.
    It is jute silk. There are others which are pure silk and cotton silk
    I am so confused with the various medium available. Please answer my questions. I know you have covered most of it but I just want to make sure.
    I am not prewashing the silk. I am using water based gutta and Setasilk from Pebeo.
    From what I understand ( various websites, including Pebeo’s)
    I can apply the gutta from the tube and use the fabric paint directly on the silk.
    I do not need to wash the dupatta to fix the paint, rather iron the reverse.
    Do I need to wash it if I am using colorless gutta?
    And, does it matter if I am using gold or white gutta? AS far as it is water based, the same rules apply?
    Thanks a lot,

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Dear Payal

      You really need to wash silk before painting on it to ensure the fabric absorbs it properly. The silk paints leave the fabric stiffer than dyes so that is something you need to take into consideration when painting clothing. And after you have fixed the paint from the reverse afterwards, you really need to wash it to remove all excess colour otherwise it can colour other things it comes into contact with.

      Metallic guttas stay in the fabric as outliners. The clear gutta is washed out again and the colour of the fabric shows through. So, again, if you are using clear gutta, you will need to wash the silk.

      Hope that helps


      • Payal says:

        Dear Fiona
        Thank You so much for the prompt reply.
        It does help. So, dry cleaning after painting is a good option?
        Or, is it better to rinse at home?

        • Fiona Stolze says:

          Dear Payal

          As I said painting always works much better when you wash your fabric beforehand as anything your fabric is impregnated with will hinder absorption of paints and dyes and hinder their flow. It may work without washing, but not as well. I would definitely at least dry clean afterwards to remove excess dyes or paints. Only rinse if you know the fabric will be okay with being wet.

          Good luck.


  6. Tamsin says:

    Also what is the finest grade silk I can buy?

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      If by fine you mean sheer, then go for a thin habotai 5mm which is used for dancing veils. You could also go for a chiffon but it is very thin and more difficult to work with.

      If you mean best, it really comes down to personal taste. If you are starting out, go for a habotai definitely. 8mm is a good weight to work on as it’s not so sheer and allows vibrant colouring.

      I’m also curious. What did you mean by nail competition?


      • Tamsin says:

        Hi Fiona
        Thanks again for your replies:-) all very helpful. There are many nail competitions worldwide now and they are becoming very popular. Nails are an art. I have competed on and off for years and want to compete at this years London nailympics. Google it it’s pretty amazing if you look at the fantasy art. I intend on using silk painting in my stiletto nails:-)

        • Fiona Stolze says:

          Fascinating. I’m learning something completely new here. I had a quick look. So you will be applying the painted pieces of silk with liner onto your nails and coating them with gel.

          Often silk painters coat their finished paintings with the finish you would use for acrylic paintings. It gives them more protection.

          Good luck with it all. And for sure use the water based liner and fix it with the hairdryer.


          • Tamsin says:

            Yes exactly I will coat them in gel or acrylic. I’m not sure yet. I have to see how fast I can do my art work, as I will be sculpting the nails and doing 3d work with acrylic on top also but have a set time to complete them in. Hopefully the hair dryer will help:-). Thank you for your help. If it work maybe I will send you a pic:-)

          • Fiona Stolze says:

            Tamsin – one last thing that occurred to me. If you are working on such a small area I would suggest not working with the liner straight from the tube with nozzle as the hole can be very large and you don’t have a lot of control. Buy a little plastic bottle and a thin metal nib to put on top and that way you will get much finer lines. That’s what I do when painting my mandalas with gold liner.

            Yes send me a photo when you are done. You can email me at

            Good luck.


  7. Tamsin says:

    Hi Fiona thank you for your response:-)
    Sorry that was meant to say timed. I wanted to know the drying times for gutta and resist as I believe one is resin based and one is water based? So in your response you say it can be speeded up I down to minuets ? Is this for water or resin based? I will have a look at maribu thank you. Are the pebeo products any good though? My art shop sell them.
    Tamsin x

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Tamsin

      Gutta is solvent based and emits fumes. Resist or liner is water-based. Gutta dries more quickly but use the hair dryer to speed things up. Pebeo is also good. These are diluted with water.

      Fiona πŸ™‚

  8. Tamsin says:

    Hi Fiona
    I have never done any silk painting and need some advice on what to buy. I’m entering a nail competition so I will be times. I wanted to find out the drying time difference between the hurts and resist. How long does gutta take to dry? And how long does resist take with a hair dryer? Also what would it dilute the paints with? Can I mix a white with the colours? What is the best brand paint to use? I will be painting 5 miniture pictures and encapsulating them in acrylic/gel when dry. I hope you can help:-)
    Thanks Tamsin

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Tamsin

      Sorry but I’m not really sure I understand your question about the nail competition, times and hurts.

      However generally if you are interested in silk painting, get yourself some white silk and some special silk paints. Maribu might be good to go for. Gutta will take a few hours to dry. Hair dryers will speed it up enough to be able to paint and this can be done in a few minutes with some care. Hope that helps.

  9. Pamela says:

    Thank you, Fiona!………especially for your quick response.

    That’s how I thought I’d proceed, but wanted to ask first since my resist supply is running low. I’ll do a little test.


  10. Pamela says:

    Hi Fiona,

    Another thank YOU here for all your helpful silk-painting discussions. You have helped me tremendously with a huge project I recently embarked. I have a question, but first;

    I’ve been using Sennelier Clear Aqua Gutta and having great success with it. I let it dry overnight (or several hours). It holds the painting line very well. I’ve never had a problem with it washing out after steaming — I use Dharma’s substitute for Synthrapol, Professional Textile Detergent (PTD) and HOT water in the first wash and it comes right out. The main reason I like the Textile Detergent, is what is stated on the label – that it will hold dye in suspension so that there is no backdye onto the fabric/fiber. Sadly, I learned this the hard way after washing a yarn I spun from hand dyed fibers in Synthrapol…….the excess dyes backdyed all over my other striped colors and caused a muddied yarn! PTD does not do this. I also believe this PTD somehow also helps remove the aqua gutta after steaming.

    Now, I want to “tint” my Sennelier Clear Aqua Gutta so that it will wash out after steaming, but leave the tinted lines behind. Is this possible, and how would you color the aqua gutta? I have Dupont Silk Dyes, and Dharma dry powder acid dyes for wools and silk. Is it better to try coloring the gutta with a wet Dupont or dry acid dyes.

    I’ve seen the market availability of guttas/resists but imo, they are quite limiting in many ways. Thank you for any help, Fiona.


    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Pamela

      I’m so glad the discussions here have been useful for you. And great to hear especially so in a recent project. But thank you to everyone who comes here and asks.

      As to your question, my answer is very brief. Firstly I don’t have any direct experience of the gutta you mention but the principle is the same no matter the brand.

      I would simply add a drop at a time of the liquid acid dye to the gutta and mix it well, then see what shade you have achieved. Just keep going until you reach the desired shade. I wouldn’t add powder as this can clump. After steaming the gutta will wash out and you will be left with coloured lines as you say. It’s quite straight forward but try it out on a smaller piece first to see your results.

      Just as a by note. In my 14 years of silk painting I have never bought detergent for my silks. At the very most I put a tiny drop of shampoo in with my silk when washing it out after steaming. And there have never been any accidents with backdying. I have always used Dupont dyes with the occasional addition of a few Marabu SilkArt dyes while they were still in production.

      It’s always important to remember that when the silk reaches its saturation point, no amount of extra dye is going to make any difference and it is this which washes out again after steaming.

      Hope that helps.

  11. mary naumann says:

    Hello Fiona,
    I watched your video using the microwave for dyeing silk scarves. I’ve registered to take a silk scarf dyeing class at my public library. Can you tell me where to buy a white or beige silk scarf to dye?
    Thank You, Mary Naumann

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Mary

      I’m not sure where you live but it’s hard to find local supply shops for these silks. Go online and order one. If you’re in the US, try Dharma silks. If you’re in the UK go for Rainbow Silks. And watch out for my supplies soon too.

  12. ena says:

    Thanks for your answer.
    I’m giving a workshop in painting a round silk window decoration.
    I have to fix the javanna and marabu paints and resist with an iron.
    But the silk window decoration have a wire holding de expanded silk
    making it impossible to fix it with an iron.
    Can I fix this paints with a hair dryer?
    How high have to be the temperature and for how many minutes I
    have to iron it? Thanks again for your time.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      When I work with items that can’t be ironed I always use the hairdryer. I put it on full blast and take care to keep moving the dryer around so as not to overheat the silk. Just keep going until you see that the lines have changed, become a bit flatter and matter. You will need to do this for around 3 minutes. But factor in time in your workshop for everyone to do this. It can take a long while. And remember that beginners often do very thick lines so they will take longer to dry. Good luck. πŸ™‚

  13. ena says:

    Hi;Can i combine marabu silk paint and water based resist with javana silk paints and resists?
    Can you send me the andere to my email.Thanks for your time.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Ena – the simple answer is yes. It’s sometimes more tricky when trying to combine dyes but with the water based paints I have had good experience. I will also pass this on to your email address.

      Thanks for visiting my site. πŸ™‚

  14. Beverly Ambalong Heimbruch says:

    Hi Fiona,

    Greetings from California, USA.

    I become so interested doing silk painting and designing from what i saw on you tube. As a starter i searched on what materials to use from silk to paints/dyes, etc… and i’m so glad i found your site which is so very informative. Your art pieces on facebook was truly amazing.

    I will keep you posted for any development based from the learnings i got from your blog.

    Thanks you and have a good day!


    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Berling

      So glad you’ve found my site and also found it useful. Do let me know how you get on. You can keep up to date with what I’m doing on my Facebook page so I’m glad you’ve had a look there. If there’s anything I can help you with, just ask either here or on the FB page. Keep in touch.

      Warm wishes

  15. felicity says:

    Add on! – Oh, sorry – I was talking about using ceramic resist, and I still use it for bigger pieces where I want thicker lines (don’t want to “waste” my Javana gutta!) because I like the look of the lines as part of the design, and the thin ones look feeble on a larger piece, so have to go over and over them! But I found it hard to get the lines really thin with this, but maybe because I was being impatient!!

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      I have done extremely thin lines for years creating my mandalas but more recently have ventured out into creating thicker ones with the soya wax. At the end of the day it’s completely up to you. πŸ™‚

  16. felicity says:

    What a lovely site I’ve found! Thank you for all your info and generosity in sharing!

    I have tried steaming silk, and found the whole thing tedious. I used to use (and hope to use soon!) Javanna silk paints as well as their guttas, and they are just iron-setting, but still keep their lovely vibrant colours, do you think?

    I have read so many ideas about guttas, including the Japanese method using various food starches made into think paste, and stretching the silk over a starch-paste “bed” before starting! Lots of work!

    I was doing some silk painting in a hurry, using some paints someone gave me called “GD”, and lots of, I believe, Japanese writing…never found them again, but they are nice! – I went to a ceramics painting store, and they have a ceramic resist, which is waxy, but water clean-up on brushes. I bought a bottle, and a bottle with a tiny nozzle as you show, and it worked very well…the dye did not wash it off. However, I did need to iron it out on clean newsprint, as one would a batik.

    Which I was doing anyway, to set these colours.

    It was cheap, and easily available at the time! – and apart from the having to iron it out, which wasn’t dreadfully difficult, the only thing is, don’t buy a lot – I tried to use the same bottle about a month later, and found that it has developed hard blobs, it had started to “cure” and not usable without a lot of swearing and cleaning the nozzles! – so has to be a nice new bottle, but may give your readers an emergency gutta, and certainly easier than having to keep batik wax hot and using a – gosh, tjanging? Can’t remember the name! But batikers will know!

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Felicity – thanks a lot for visiting my site and for your feedback. I began many years ago with the paints and then ironed them to fix. I got some lovely results. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of the ceramic resist you mention here but it sounds interesting. I’ll have a look into that and see what I come up with.

      Recently I have been doing a lot of silk work with soya wax which doesn’t need to be warmed up as hot as the other waxes and it can be ironed and then washed out easily after fixing. I use a tjanting as you say. I now have a couple of them. Great to hear you’re enjoying painting on silk.
      Thanks for sharing.

  17. janet says:


    I have just started getting interested in silk painting, have painted with watercolor for years and was so excited when I saw my first silk painting. I purchased some silk that already had to lines set in the silk just to practice. I purchsed Sennelier paint ( I don’t really know the difference between paint yet) and am thrilled with the outcome.

    Help Please, How do I start, I have read your advice and I think I should start with water- based resist, I had cancer and know not to use the gutta with fumes. I know nothing about the best grades of silk or the weight?? How do I choose?
    Or if I am using the correct paint!
    Your work is amazing so I though I would ask for your professional help. There is so much to read out there but someone’s advice that has been painting on silk and has beautiful work, I feel can direct you and help you more then reading, a book can not
    answer questions. You have been so helpful to others that have written in, I think not only does that show your love of your art, silk painting, but that you care about helping others as they learn to love silk painting as you do.
    thank you

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Dear Janet,

      Thanks so much for your lovely comment and of course I can give you some pointers to get started. It can be confusing at the start and as you say, it’s hard to ask questions when you are sitting reading a book.

      My advice is always to keep it very simple at the start. It makes sense to buy the paints and not the dyes, as they can be heat set simply and quickly. I used and sometimes still use Marabu Silk paints but Sennelier is a good quality to use too. I’m not sure what part of the world you live in,

      I also choose water-based products as I don’t want to breathing in fumes and have pieces dry-cleaned. With any healthy issues, this is the sensible choice.

      As to what type of silk to use, I would suggest this. Get yourself some habotai or pongee 8. This is a very smooth, lightweight silk which is easy to work with and get good results with. Some of the thicker, textured ones are excellent too, but in the early stages, go with something that will ensure success. The higher the number (momme measurement which tells you how many threads there are per inch), the heavier the silk. And this means it’s harder to use resist as it’s more difficult to penetrate the silk.

      While your paint is still wet, you can get great results sprinkling effect salt on habotai or pongee

      If you’re in the US, Dharma Trading can send anything to you. In Europe you can order from Aubijoux, Meru and the like.

      Good luck and let me know how things go.

      Warm wishes

  18. Bhavika says:

    Again thanks for a quick reply. Yes I was thinking ebay and markets. By the way you are right about painting generally….it’s addictive! I will keep in touch Fiona.

    Kind regards

  19. Bhavika says:

    Hello again!

    Wow you are just full of knowledge in silk painting (”,). I would like to keep in touch with you regards to this. I am thinking of selling hand painted silk cushions of my own in the future. Would you say thereis a demand for this? Do people actually pay a bit more than they would on normal cushions because it’s hand painted on silk? I would like to know if you could recommend best places to sell at first to see the market approach on my designs. I think I would start off using iron-fixed paints at first to get used to the technique.

    I would love to hear your views on this topic.


    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Bhavika, I’m afraid the answer is – How long is a piece of string? It totally depends on what market you are offering your work to. It depends on the quality of your work. It depends on what value the customers perceive in what you make. Generally people will pay much more than they would for a shop bought cushion. The only thing I can recommend to you is perhaps go to local fairs and present your work there to start to get known. You could also open up an Etsy shop and sell your stuff there. Sounds like a good idea to use the paints first, rather than investing time and money in using the dyes. You could also come onto the Ning Gallery.

      Hope this helps.

  20. Bhavika says:

    Hi Fiona!

    This is very an interesting and extremely helpful site. I am planning on designing silk cushions. I would like your advice on which type of silk is best used for hand painting silk cushions? Habotai 8mm? Also there are so many branded dyes to choose from, so which brand would you recommend to purchase steam fix dyes from? Can I use
    ‘No Flow’ if I use steam fix dyes?

    Would love to hear your response.


    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Bhavika,

      Thanks for visiting my site. The answer to your question is very simple. You can use any type of silk you fancy. Habotai would be as good as any. You might want to use a heavier silk for the backing to make it a bit more robust, but I don’t always. As for dyes, you can go for any of the well known ones – Dupont, Marabu SilkArt, Jacquard, Sennelier. There are very many on the market. Regarding ‘No Flow’, I have not used it but you can use most of these products in conjunction with your dyes. If you are intending to paint without resist/gutta and are using the ‘No Flow’ for that purpose, then there is also watercolour base or even starch that you can spray on the silk before hand.

      Hope this helps.

      You can keep in touch over at and join in with our Skype silk painters chats.

      Warm wishes


  21. Irina says:

    Hello Fiona,
    Thank you for this post.
    I have tried both resists and guttas,
    and I prefer gutta over water based resist.
    The paints doesn’t flow through line with gutta, but with water based resist it is mess.
    But I would like to work with water based resist, because it is better in terms of fumes.
    I will try to use starch technique you described here with resist, may be it will work for me.
    Thank you again for idea!


    • Fiona says:

      Hi Irina and thanks for your comment. I just wanted to say a few words about using the resist as opposed to the gutta in the hope that you might have a better experience.

      I have always used the water-based resist as I don’t want to subject myself to the fumes from the gutta. And I don’t want to have to have all my work dry-cleaned. That doesn’t make sense to me.

      It’s a fact that the gutta lines hold better than the resist lines. However, I have worked for over 10 years using the resist and don’t really have any tragedies to report. πŸ™‚

      I think that the main thing you need to pay attention to is the amount of dye you use. Just make sure that whenever you are close to a line, you take much more care with your application of the dye so that it doesn’t get flooded. Another thing you can do is have a hairdryer on hand so that as soon as you have added the dye, switch it on and dry out the area next to the resist line so that the dye doesn’t even think about stepping over the line!

      Starch gives you a particular effect and isn’t used in the resist technique so this is not likely to be a solution. Resist technique is when you draw the lines and then apply the dye freely in the spaces inbetween. Using starch you inhibit the flow of the dye and can paint as you would with watercolours. I’m guessing you know this already.

      Hope this helps a bit. Do let me know how you get on, Irina. πŸ™‚

  22. peter clarke says:

    Hi Fionai
    I wish to draw people on silk using thin black outlines. Using gutta on both sides of my thin outlines is impossable, and without this barrier every thing runs…… what can I do ?
    Thanks Fiona

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Peter
      Thanks for your question. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to remedy this issue. I don’t personally use the technique I am about to describe but know of other lovely artists who do.

      In order to get a lovely watercolour effect on your silk, it is recommended to spray it first with either starch (or magic sizing as they call it in the US). You can also buy bottles of a special liquid which specifically provides a base for silk painting in this technique.

      When you come to use the individual dyes, mix each one in a little pot with starch. When you apply the dye, it will not flow as it usually does. It will be more like using acrylics and you will need to lightly massage the dye into the silk.

      You will find that next to nothing flows and bloops and you’ll probably get the results you are looking for. When you steam the silk, the starch all just washes out again.

      Hope this helps. Let me know how you get on.

      Warm wishes


  23. Ted says:

    Hallo Fiona – I’m after some tubes of gutta for a friend in Zimbabwe – she wants 20g or 30g tubes with the dispenser nozzle fixed in these colours Gold, copper, peach or salmon, blue and green but am having difficulty in finding suppliers – any recommendations? Best wishes Ted

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Ted,

      I would recommend getting some Javana tubes of gutta as there is a wide range of them available with nozzles on. I’m sending you some details by private mail as the company I get my supplies from is German and the site is just a series of downloadable pdf’s in German which is not always very helpful. Luckily I speak fluent German. πŸ™‚

      Warm wishes


  24. Fiona says:

    My pleasure, Joanna. I feel honoured by your comments and am delighted to be of service.

    Let me know if you would like to receive my newsletter.

    Warm wishes


  25. Joanna says:

    Thank you so much for your prompt and thorough response, Fiona. Your suggested method makes a lot of sense and I am going to try it out with my next piece – I’ll let you know how everything turns out!

    I was able to spend more time on your blog this evening as well as visit your website and I have to tell you I am so inspired by your exquisite mandalas! What a wonderful, meditative practice you have.

    Thank you again for sharing all of these tutorials with the world- this is by far one of the best resources I have found on the web that relates to silk painting and the serti method – I have you bookmarked and look forward to visiting again soon! Take care and happy painting! πŸ™‚ – Joanna

  26. Fiona says:

    Hi Joanna

    Thanks for your comments. Glad to hear you are enjoying reading the articles. I always steam my artwork for 3 hours and am always hugely satisfied with the results. Afterwards I gently wash silk in warm water with a little organic shampoo. The brands I use are Dupont and SilkArt/Marabu. For vibrant scarves and co. a little dash of vinegar in water afterwards can help.

    Yes, you’re right. Resist does resist being washed out easily. I work mostly with gold gutta which is a feature of the mandala paintings and doesn’t get washed out. But the clear resist is tricky to remove sometimes. That’s where the clear solvent-based ones have an advantage as they are removed effectively with dry-cleaning.

    My intuition suggests that maybe all these chemicals used when rinsing after the steaming might be making it more difficult for the resist to come out. If you’re using the dye set concentrate, then you probably don’t need the vinegar, too. But that’s down to personal choice.

    How about just using some cold water, then some hot water with shampoo and then rinse again in cold water with a splash of vinegar.

    Synthrapol is a detergent meant for washing out excess fibre reactive dyes. So if you are using these type of dyes, then that’s fine. If not, leave it out. It has isopropanol in it which isn’t all that healthy. However, water (lots of it) is the best medium for washing out excess dye.

    My personal approach is to leave out the chemicals where possible.

    I would suggest using some very gentle shampoo neat on the areas in question, rubbing it in gently with your fingertips to see if you can shift the last remains. You just have to be careful not to be too rough with the silk as it can look a bit ‘worn’ afterwards, especially if you have been using a silk quality with a sheen, such as satin silk.

    Let me know how you get on, Joanna. πŸ™‚

  27. Joanna says:

    Hi Fiona,

    Thanks for posting these informative articles! I’m actually curious about how long you steam your silk (on average) and what is your process for washing out the Marabu-Silk water-based resist? Do you do a rinse in warm water? I am using Sennelier clear water-based resist and it washes out with some effort after steaming for 1.5 hours… but lately I’ve been steaming for at least 3 hours (colors are much more intense!) and it seems like that extra time in the steamer makes it much more difficult to remove the resist and regain that soft feel of the silk – currently rinsing in dyeset concentrate, then Syntherapol, then water with a little white vinegar, all lukewarm to cold. I wonder if doing a final rinse in warm water with some mild conditioner would help with scrubbing the resist out? Any thoughts? Thanks!


  28. Fiona Stolze says:

    Hi Janet

    You have prompted me to write a separate article around the question of steaming with the question you have posted, so thank you for that pointer.

    Here, in the meantime, is a short answer with some possible indicators as to where the problem may lie.

    Firstly, although steaming silk in a package in a vegetable steamer is an easy and cheap way of doing things, I personally don’t find it really ideal. I will go into that in more detail in the article to follow.

    You asked whether you might have steamed your silk for too long. No, that is certainly not the case. Never be afraid of that.

    Something to consider is the quality of silk you have used. There could have been something impregnated in the fabric which meant it didn’t properly absorb your dye.

    Also, what type of silk dye did you use? Yes, you can paint on silk with any paints or dyes, however, those specifically created for silk painting work the best. On this note, any inferior silk paints could have the same effect.

    If you diluted the dyes, a combination of any of the above points may have led to your faded artwork.

    If you used quality dyes and silk and followed the guidelines correctly for steaming, there is always the possibility that the dyes haven’t worked for whatever reason. If you still have proof of purchase, it might be worthwhile contacting the manufacturers for a refund or replacement.

    My personal experience has been that whenever I use quality silk dyes on quality silk, the result after steaming is always excellent.

    Please feel free to post any further questions in response to what I’ve written.

    I hope my article on steaming will throw a bit of light on the subject in general.

    Warm wishes

  29. Janet Walker says:

    Hi there,

    I have just learnt about silk painting and have attended classes where finished work is steamed in a professional steamer at the class. The finished result is excellent. I have tried to steam a couple of small pieces of work at home in an old steamer. It is the type generally used for steaming vegetables and it is just a saucepan with holes in the bottom which fits over a larger saucepan with some water steaming away in the bottom.

    When I packed my work ready for steaming I was very careful to wrap the work well and seal it to make sure no steam or water penetrated to the work. I left it steaming on my cooker hob for about 3 hours. When I unwrapped the work I was very disappointed to find it had faded considerably. No colour had appeared to run out of the work onto the cotton napkin which protected it. As the work was only very small I wondered if I had steamed it for too long? Any help would be so appreciated as I am at a loss. Thank you

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Janet

      Thank you very much for your question. I am posting an answer in the blog as the comments may be of use to other readers.

      Please reply to my post if you have further questions.

      Warm wishes



  30. fionastolze says:

    Hi there,

    Thanks for visiting the blog. I can only answer your question related to my personal experience.

    I have used special wax crayons designed for use with silk on my paintings. The drawback is that you have to go and get your artwork drycleaned to properly remove it as ironing doesn’t do the trick.

    Batik aims to cover up certain areas whereas the gutta technique in silk painting is intended to create a barrier between different sections of your painting and is applied in lines.

    I personally haven’t used paraffin wax as I don’t’ use anything that could potentially be harmful.

    Cotton is much more robust than silk in respect of wax and that is why it is particularly suited to batik with wax. Why not just have a go on a small piece of silk and see what you think of the results. Triall and error can sometimes bring unexpected images.

    At the end of the day, anything goes and it’s down to personal taste.

    Good luck.


  31. aries says:

    Hi can we use paraffin wax or bee wax that used in batik instead of gutta in silk painting. Thanks.

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