A New Silk Scarf: The Octopus
May 16th, 2012
I’m fascinated by octopi; their bulbous heads, the patterns formed by their suction cups, the way their many limbs can fill up a visual space with fluid, sprawling, powerful movements. Some things just make great visual subjects for art, and octopi are among them. In my first project working with gutta on silk I made an octopus the protagonist and set him in a watery home surrounded by coral reefs and silvery schools of fish. Here are a few photos of the process.
A silk scarf is stretched over a wooden frame and brushed with water to get rid of any folds or creases in the silk.
The design is sketched on paper before being traced onto dry silk with a light pencil. The silk is then put back onto the frame and the lines are drawn over with gutta, a water resistant solution which blocks paint from spreading past the outlines.
Salt is applied onto wet paint to provide the coral reefs with a mottled appearance. The salt draws moisture towards it, and different sizes of salt grains can be used to create different effects.
The salt is brushed off when the paint has dried, leaving a more saturated colour wherever a grain of salt was placed.
To provide the fish with a silvery shaded effect, black paint watered down to a light grey is applied to select areas of the fish.
The desired colours are added when the grey shading has dried.
The completed scarf. All that remains is to steam the silk to set the colours and remove the gutta.
After steaming, the fabric posesses the soft sheen characteristic of many silk scarves and the colours have increased in vibrancy.
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