Introduction: Silk Painting Sunflower Cushions

About: Hello my name is Jennifer Douglas and I have been a textile artist for the last 25 years since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design. I specialise in making and teaching silkpainting and batik …

Sunflower silkpainted cushions I painted and enjoyed quilting to give extra texture to the flowers. These were made for my sister who loves sunflowers and I thought it might be interesting to share the process of making them.

Step 1: Creating a Paper Template

First job is to create a template, I drew out the design onto paper using a bold permanent marker pen which is now ready for tracing onto the silk.

Step 2: Tracing Design

Trace design onto silk using an auto fade pen. I stretch the silk (habotai 8mm) onto a wooden frame 18”x 18” with these 3 point pins. The silk then can be placed stretched on top of the template and the design can be easily traced through.

Step 3: Gutta Outlining

Apply gutta serti resist to provide the barrier for different shades of yellow in the petals. This is the transparent gutta which is water soluble, but you could apply gold gutta here if you wanted more colourful outlines.

Gutta outlining complete. Allow to dry naturally or use a hair dryer to dry the gutta in a about 2 minutes.

Step 4: Using Iron Fix Paints

Using a selection of Pebeo setasilk iron fix paints, I start with concentrate yellow and paint random petals.Then continue mixing different tones of yellow by adding small amounts of the other warmer paints for the other petals, until I see a good mix of light and darker yellows.I use water with these paints to create the lighter shades.

The petals are designed to be open and allow the paint to flow towards the center of the flower. This gives a natural feel to the design and a more interesting middle section.

Step 5: Using Sea Salt

The centre of the flower is achieved by using circles of black/brown /yellow and orange.I use fine salt in the darkest part in the middle,then when all the other circles are finished I use sea salt liberally to give the effect of the seeds. Apply drops of water with a pipette at the base of each petal to achieve this interesting pattern.

The salt will need time to create it’s patterns so I usually leave it on for as long as possible. Best results happen when darker shades are used and the paint is not too wet before you put the salt on. This effect can really look like the seeds in a sunflower.

Step 6: Painting the Leaves

Painting the leaves comes next and I use several shades of greens, often mixing yellow in the lighter green for a more natural tone.

Step 7: Painting the Background

I tend to paint water on the background first to give a smoother finish . It gives plenty of time to apply the background colour without fear of any dry lines creeping in.

Background complete, I usually dilute this colour as it is then easier to apply. After leaving this for 24hrs I then iron fix on a cotton setting, soak in warm water and iron damp. Then it’s time to quilt.

Step 8: Quilting Your Sunflower!

I discovered how to make french knots and couldn’t stop as they seemed just the right thing in this central area. I used a yellow darning cotton and some ochre coloured fine wool for these areas and an off white silk tread for the petals and leaves.

I chose a cotton fabric for the back of these cushions after some time choosing in a fabric shop! They were sewn up without a zip and are in daily use . I hope to master putting in a zip one day!

To find out more about quilting and other silkpainting techniques please visit my blog at:

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