Wax Layering Technique in Silk Painting

allelu-ign

Rich textures can be made using one dye, wax, salt and 4 layers.

allelu-ign

This is a project I’m working on currently for a catholic church in Portland, OR. First I contacted a good friend who collaborates with me on lettering. She is a wonderful calligrapher. You can reach Laura Norton at [email protected]

When she finishes the lettering I can start my watercolor sketch of the proposed design.

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Watercolor sketch of proposed design, with calligrapher’s lettering copied to paper.

When the design is accepted, I make a copy of the sketch on newsprint the same size as the banner-to-be, in this case 13 feet by 30 inches. I make my lines with magic marker so the lines are dark. I place this pattern under the stretched silk, and can see the lines right through the silk. Next I apply a resist called “gutta” around the edges of the lettering, as seen through the silk. This establishes the lettering on the silk. When I apply the wax inside these gutta lines the gutta helps guide where the wax will go. Waxing the lettering means that the white silk is protected, as my first layer, and that the lettering will be white.

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Kristen applying wax to the lettering.

Below you can see that I have applied gold dye to the silk, and the wax has protected the lettering. However, I don’t want the lettering to be completely white. So I detach the silk from the frame just enough to get a handful of the silk. I am scrunching the wax to produce a crackle in the wax. The next layer of dye will enter these crackles and make a crackle design on the lettering. This is called “faux-batik”.

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Crackling the wax by scrunching it.

After scrunching the wax I apply some more wax with a sponge brush in sweeping streaks, but not too many as I want to add more streaks with each layer. Immediately I add a second layer of dye, and sprinkle salt on the wet dye. The salt melts and pushes the dye away, making a rain or snow like texture, similar to adding salt to watercolor. You can see the wet dye with the salt below. I also cover the cracked wax lettering with dye and a small bit seeps through.

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Second layer of wax and dye, with salt.

Above you can see I also splattered wax randomly to add even more texture. And below you can see the result of the third and fourth layers of wax and dye, much more complicated. My goal is for a joyful motion to go with a sunny, warm rich color.

alleluia-ign-a
4th layer of wax, salt and dye.

Now the painting and wax application are finished and need to be “fixed”. I roll both banners in layers of brown paper and newsprint and steam them. In the steaming process most of the wax melts off and is soaked into the newsprint, and the moist heat chemically bonds the dye into the silk fibers permanently.When the banners are unrolled the layers of dye will be revealed, the first layers being lightest and the 4th layer a deep gold.

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Finally I will take these to the dry cleaner to remove any wax and dye residue, and the silk will regain its luxurious “hand” again, after being all stiff with foreign material.

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2013 Grunewald Guild Liturgical Arts Weeks

 “At the Meeting of Heaven and Earth”

Grunewald Guild, Leavenworth, WA, August 5-11, August 12-18, 2013

Teaching Liturgical Arts Week at Grunewald Guild with Jan Richardson, Garrison Doles, Gilly Sakakini and Laurie Clark every summer is a treat. I love the way our classes are woven together by Jan’s words and Gary’s music, and often find myself dreaming at night about the magic that will happen between us all the next day. This is indeed a thin place, where we all come together to explore Spirit in, with, through, around, under and above us.

Here’s what Jan has written about our theme “Between Heaven and Earth”:

“In the physical landscape and in the turning of the year, there are places where the veil between worlds becomes permeable. Past and future come together in the present, and heaven and earth meet. It’s not that God is somehow more present in those places—“thin places,” as Celtic folk have called them; rather, something in those places and times invites us to become more present to the God who is always with us. A veil falls away within us. We open, and we see.

Join us as we enter and explore these thin places, the spaces that open before us as we engage in worship, in our communities, and in our daily lives.”

Silk Painting: Exploring Color and Line as a Thin Place

I will be teaching two weeks of silk painting classes during this time, with one building on the other. In Week I everyone is invited, beginners through advanced. During Week II former silk painting students of mine (including Week I students) are invited for more in depth exploration. For more info, visit Liturgical Arts Week on the Guild’s website.

Full information & registration for Week I Silk Painting, August 5-11

Full information & registration for Week II Silk Painting, August 12-18

See you AT THE MEETING OF HEAVEN + EARTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unveiling at St. Marks by the Narrows

The banner “Who Is My Neighbor?,”  commissioned by St. Marks Lutheran Church by the Narrows in Tacoma WA, was unveiled this Sunday. Pastor Jan Ruud wove the theme of the banner into his sermon. I wish I could have been there.

Kristen Gilje's "Who Is My Neighbor?" with pastor Jan Ruud, St. Mark's Tacoma WA
Kristen Gilje’s “Who Is My Neighbor?” with pastor Jan Ruud, St. Mark’s Tacoma WA