Introduction: "The Little Prince" Silk Painted Scarf

About: An engineer, seamstress, cook, coder, and overall maker. Spent a summer at Instructables; got a degree in E: Neural Engineering at Olin College; made a microcontroller (; now thinking about climate c…

Antoine Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince" has touched and taught young and old alike for many years. It's a beautiful story graced with insightfully simple artwork.

I came into a blank silk scarf serendipitously, and inspiration struck about a week later. This canvas should be my homage to The Little Prince. The blocked watercolor style of silk painting meshes wonderfully with the illustrations in the book. Additionally, I've been hoping to get back to silk painting for several years now, so I was glad to have hit upon the perfect thing.

I'm really pleased with the way that this scarf turned out. I'd forgotten; silk painting with gutta resist is absurdly easy, and yields stunning results.(Really, it's super easy. My mom taught me to silk paint when I was in elementary school, then proceeded to teach my whole class. We made a quilt out of it. It's super fun and fast and hard to screw up too badly.)

This instructable serves as a tutorial for silk painting any scarf, but mine is "The Little Prince". I hope you like it!

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
Clear gutta resist & fine-tipped applicator bottle
Silk colors (this and the gutta: I recommend Jaquard. You can buy them online.)
A white ice cube tray makes a great paint palette
A large embroidery hoop (not pictured)
Some paper towels are good to have around.

Step 2: Mock It Up

I wanted to design my scarf before I actually put it on silk. Partly, I wasn't sure I could draw The Little Prince. So I started out on paper: I stapled 8 1/2x11 sheets together until they were the right length.

Then I freehanded the Prince, his planet, and a smattering of planets and stars. I also added some of the birds to the other end of the scarf.

Step 3: Trace

Place the scarf over your paper mock-up and trace it with gutta resist.
Gutta resist will make the parts of your scarf that it paints water resistant and thus unable to soak up any dye. When you paint it, the paints will spread and travel up silk fibers, blending into each other. Except when they come to lines of resist, they stop. This lets you have beautifully blended colors which do not mix at all with other beautifully blended sections- coloring in the lines only.
Keep in mind that your resist lines should penetrate your fabric and make complete lines without gaps in them. Otherwise, all your colors will blend though the gaps. (you can see, in the pictures that follow, that I missed a couple of spots)

What you should do:
Put the paper and the scarf in your embroidery hoop.
Trace with gutta resist.
Wait for it to dry.
Move hoop, repeat until entire design has been traced.

What I did:
Put the paper and scarf in the hoop.
Trace with gutta resist.
Proceed to trace the not-hooped part too.
It worked okay.

Step 4: Paint

Set up your paints in the ice cube tray. You'll want to pre-mix your various shades and test them on a piece of paper or something.
I only used the primary colors, mixed with each other and water to make them lighter.
Very watery is fine for your paints.
Quantity: I used up an ice-cube-tray well of watered-down blue on my scarf.

Color it in! Touch your brush to some paint, touch it to your fabric. Watch it spread. Expect it to get everywhere on the fabric that is unprotected by gutta.
Play with different patterns and colors.
If you mess up a little, you can blend most things in by painting over them with water or another color.

Wait for the section to dry, unhoop, rehoop on an unpainted part of the fabric.
Repeat as necessary.

Step 5: Touch-up and Texture

As you can see in the main picture above, lines will appear between the sections you've painted. The corners may also have missed some paint, because they were caught in the hoop.

Now we're going to do something not generally advised in order to smooth out these bits.
Lay out your entire scarf across a surface.
Fill in paint at the corners or anywhere that is missing paint.
Now paint your whole scarf with water. The lines that show in the picture below are from wet sections meeting dry sections: the colors bleed to the edges. So everything needs to be wet.
Be careful! The little yellow sections should not get wet, or the blue might run into them!
Once everything is laid out wet and you are satisfied with the color texture of the fabric, let it sit until it is dry.

Step 6: Iron

I don't know if silk painted things are generally heat set. A quick internet search was inconclusive. But I had some hoop-created creases in my scarf, and thought that heat couldn't be a bad thing. So I ironed it out.

(Do you know about heat treating silk paints? I'd love to learn about it..)

Step 7: Voila!

Look at that lovely scarf! Pretty and watery, beautiful as a tapestry or a worn homage.

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