Painting Mandalas on Silk in Bristol

I had actually been planning to have some people in for silk painting way back in February but the day before the flu broke out in our household and those of you following my 30 day video challenge will know that it took quite a while for it to do its work and move on.

Julia Buckley applying the gold resist

I do believe that everything happens for a reason and in perfect timing. Our group shrank quite a bit as a result of the date postponement but it’s all about quality and not the big numbers. There were three of us in total, Jenny Vestey, Julia Buckly and me.

Holding the frame up to look for gaps

The sun came out in its full glory for us and beautifully lit up our workspace on the day. We began with some colour meditation to tune us into our creative energies  and let go of everything else that was going on. When it’s mandala time, nothing else matters.

I always love to see how the budding artists who come to me go from feeling unsure and sometimes a bit nervous, to a space of relaxation where they can totally enjoy the process and let go.

Starting to apply the silk dyes to the mandala

For those of you who haven’t heard of the word mandalas before, it’s a Sanskrit word meaning ‘mystical circle’. Most mandalas are circular in form, starting at the centre, the bindu, and moving out with concentric circles displaying designs that can be geometric or not. There is an outer periphery which signifies the end of the current journey and is a sign to turn around and return to centre, ready to take another path.

We always start at the centre, the bindu and travel outwards when creating artwork. I always askt that everyone completes each ring before continuing on to the next one. As each step is completed, the next one reveals itself. So there is no rushing ahead, no cutting corners on the way. Doing this artwork is a meditation unto itself.

This applies to both the motifs drawn in gold gutta as well as the colours that are applied later in the second stage.

Applying the background to the mandala painting

We start by pinning the silk onto the frame. For some help on this, have a look at my YouTube video: How to stretch silk on a wooden frame. Next we apply the gold resist to the silk, which provides a framework within which we can apply the dyes. The frame is then held up to the light to see where the resist is perhaps too thin or where there are gaps and we then fill in the spaces accordingly.

Finishing the outer ring of the mandala painting

After the resist has dried the fun part starts. The vibrant silk dyes come out and we can start to play with them. Diluting, mixing, adding special effects. Anyone who still doesn’t quite believe they can be artistic succumbs at this point to the colour splendour and loses themself in the sheer opulence of brushing the dye onto the satin silk and seeing it glisten.

One of my mantras is that there are no mistakes. It doesn’t matter what happens, we can make a feature out of any so-called bloop or bleeding and make it an intended part of the design.  It’s all about being in the flow and just allowing. Which are great life skills.

Julia and Jenny proudly showing their finished mandala paintings

These pictures here show the completed paintings. It never ceases to amaze me how diverse these artworks are. Everyone has their own unique form of expression and when they relax, this artistic voice trusts itself and comes out joyfully.

So now these silks need to dry thoroughly for at least a day. I will iron them from the reverse to properly fix the resist in the silk before putting them into the steam fixer for 3 hours. This last step chemically bonds the dyes with the fabric to make them light and wash resistent.

The mandala can then be backed, mounted, placed in a frame and then given a place of honour in your home.

I had fun yesterday and when Jenny and Julia left, I felt light and joyful. And that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Have you ever surprised yourself by creating some beautiful artwork under someone else’s guidance? How did that change your perception of yourself? I’d love you to share your experiences here.

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5 Responses to Painting Mandalas on Silk in Bristol

  1. Nirka Basei says:

    I would like to know if you give classes in Hamburg……..
    Your work is W O N D E R F U L !!!!!
    thank you to show us !

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Thanks a lot Nirka. Glad you like my work. And at present, no I don’t give classes in Hamburg. I’m based in Bristol but lived in Schleswig Holstein for 18 years. 🙂 Let me have a think about how we could get some classes to you.

  2. Thanks Fiona I will look for some and give it a try.
    Francine 🙂

  3. Hi Fiona,
    Just popping over to see you. These are lovely and a great inspiration.
    I gave up on metallic gutta but would like to try again. It looks like you have great results. What brand of gold metallic gutta do you use?

    Warm regards,
    Francine 😉

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Francine, lovely to see you here! The brand I use is MarabuSilk. It’s the water-based resist. When people ask me, I tell them I’ve been using it for years and so am skilled at using it. As you well know, it takes a bit of time to get used to drawing the lines and things aren’t going to be perfect the first time. Sure, there are bloops here and there, but they can be incorporated into the design creatively. The more you use it, the better it gets.

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