How to Dry Gutta Quickly When Silk Painting

If you’ve ever created a silk painting using the resist technique, applying gutta, then you’ll know that it is very difficult to get it to dry quickly. That is, if you are using water-based gutta. So we’re going to look at one or two ways of speeding up the process so that you can on with applying your colourful silk dyes.

There is one point I would like to make clear here before we go any further. There are two main types of gutta. One is solvent based and this type dries almost instantaneously which means you can apply your dyes straight away. I never use these guttas for two reasons. Firstly I don’t consider healthy to be inhaling the fumes from them. And secondly, I have to run off to the drycleaners to totally remove them from my silk artwork. This is both time-consuming and expensive. The second type is water-based and technically isn’t gutta at all, but “resist”. But for the purposes of this article we will be using the word gutta to refer to them both.

So, I use water-based guttas which unfortunately don’t dry immediately. However, when you know this, there are some things you can do to make sure your gutta dries quickly.

I would recommend that you get yourself a set of those small plastic bottles which can sit comfortably in your hand as if you were holding a thick pen. You can buy them from most craft shops that sell silk painting materials. Or you can order them online from any website selling them. You can then pop a fine nozzle onto the end of the nib which will ensure that the lines you draw are not overly thick. The nozzles come in different sizes. I use 0.5mm and find this thickness works very well. These thinner lines dry quite quickly at room temperature. If you use any tubes you can buy over the counter, the disadvantage is that the gutta can bloop out with air bubbles and this is going to make an awful mess of your work. Also, the lines are going to be so thick that you’ll really have to wait until the next day before you can start painting. I’ve seen some tubes create the effect of an iced cake.

When I do workshops I always have a hairdryer to hand so that we can blow dry the gutta lines to get them dry enough to move onto the next stage of applying the dyes after just a short break. Just switch on your hairdryer and give the silk a quick blast, taking care to keep the hot air flow moving so that the silk doesn’t over heat.

In fact the hairdryer is the standard method of drying objects with gutta that can’t be treated any other way. This could include round window pictures which consist of silk stretched over a metal hoop. These cannot be ironed if you are using iron fix dyes.

I have often guttaed my mandalas in summer months when the temperature was very high. This is ideal for getting your work to dry quickly but on the other hand you have to work quite quickly. So if you turn up the heating this will dry the gutta faster than if you work in a cold room. When you have completed the design, place your work near a radiator or even over it if this is possible. Take care that your silk doesn’t come into direct contact with the heater. Place books under the frame to raise it a bit higher.

Always remember, too, to fix your gutta into the silk when you have completed the painting. The gutta gets fixed at the same time as iron-fix dyes. For steam fixing, iron the silk on the reverse for up to 3 minutes.

And if you have the time to spare, I would always recommend that you leave the work overnight to allow the gutta to thoroughly dry at room temperature.

If you have any further questions on this topic, just post them at the end of this article. I look forward to hearing from you.

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8 Responses to How to Dry Gutta Quickly When Silk Painting

  1. Patricia Carmichael says:

    I have painted my design onto the silk with gold water based gutta, now do I iron fix the gutta before I paint on the steam fix dye?
    I steam my scarves in the microwave.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Pat

      Yes, just iron fix the liner from the reverse for around 3 minutes before painting the dyes on and steaming the silk.

      Warm wishes

  2. Carina says:

    Hi Fiona…lbs it possible to make coloured gutta using water based clear gutta and silk paints?

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Carina

      It doesn’t work very well, but just play with it, experiment and see what effects you get. They are very pale but quite nice really.


  3. Susie Heycoop says:

    Hi Fiona
    I love your website. You mentioned using Resistad and I would lobe to try it. Can you only get it from New Zealand or is there a British or Irish supplier? Many thanks
    I am a Kiwi but live in Scotland

  4. annie says:

    thanks a lot for your advice,my problem is that when ever i steam my silk the gutta becomes loose from places,i have never used a hair dryer but i let my silk dry for a few days,i stay in a hot and humid climate….please help!

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Annie – what type of resist or gutta do you use? I always recommend that artists fix their resist before starting painting with the dyes or paints. The heat setting makes it robust and not susceptible to ‘erosion’.

      A question I would also ask is ‘how’ it is coming off. Wet and messy, or dry and brittle? If wet and messy, just make sure it’s properly heat set before you paint and steam. If it’s dry and brittle, it could be your resist is past its best.

      If it is coming loose, it sounds like this may be a compatibility issue. Some dyes and guttas don’t go so well together so it’s important to check out the manufacturer’s recommendations.

      Another thing to be aware of is that resist applied afterwards on top of the dyes or paints as embellishment rather than a pure resist, before the application of dyes or paints, is more likely to peel off. But not right at the start, usually after washing and using.

      I’m guessing you are talking about the coloured or metallic resist/gutta here, as the transparent version gets washed out afterwards. Metallics are a very tricky thing. Many artists have issues with them.

      I use gold water – based resist from Marabu and have recently used Resistad, a new type of resist from New Zealand. You can create your own colours by adding any dye you choose. It gets best mixed with Jacquard dyes and must be iron fixed before use. It performs well in the steamer, giving good lines.

      I hope some of this helps. Do let me know what brands you have been using until now.

      Warm wishes


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