1. Silk is created by silkworms (Bombyx mori).
2. Silk is created by insects. This may be why no insects will eat it.
3. Silk is animal protein similar to our own hair, it has a sensuous, warm, luxurious touch.
4. The silkworm cocoon consists of a single silkworm that can reach 3 kilometers.
5. Silk has been with us for a long time.
Silk paintings are created on white silk. The dyes are painted onto the stretched surface of the silk using a paintbrush. The dyes flow into the fiber and bond with the proteins, becoming a part of the silk thread.
This is different than oil, acrylic, or watercolor paints which sit on the surface of the support. These paintings are steam set – locking the dyes into the fiber.
There was a resurgence of interest in silk painting in France in the early 19th century with the discovery of gutta. (Gutta is a rubbery resist that can be used to create boundary lines on a silk. The dyes that normally would flow through the silk are stopped at the boundary created by the gutta. This gives the artists control over positioning the dyes on the fabric allowing them to create images.)
There are also other more recent materials.
You can find more information on the history or biochemistry of silk and silk painting in the book “Silk” by Mary Schoeser, Yale University Press, 2007.
Silk painting and me:
Firstly, I had a wonderful teacher. The lightness and finesse of the material are incredible. Wonderful creations can be made.
Here are mine:
silk scarf with watherlily
silk pictures with my fabled seahorse
silk flower mandala