Silk Painting with the Zentangle Method

I recently participated in a craft show at OPC, the senior center where I am a member and I volunteer and teach. When I posted the photos of my display on the Certified Zentangle Teachers Facebook page, I got more comments than I ever expected. All good, which was very encouraging. Many were interested in the silk scarves that I had done so I promised to post here the products that I used and the way I did them. So that is my plan, now if I can just figure out how to do it.
First of all, the products that I used were ordered from Dharma Trading Co. (, an on-line provider of fiber art supplies. What I used was Dye-na-Flow, by Jacquard, free flowing liquid color for natural or synthetic fabric. The reason I choose Dye-na-Flow was because it covers, flows, and blends like a true dye on all untreated fabrics. It remains soft and permanent. Fixing is as simple as ironing. I bought the silk scarves from the same place. I bought the classroom teaching kit which has everything you need to teach a class except the scarves, 30 colors, resist and applicators, salt and brushes. It runs around $60 but there are other kits and individual jars available as well. The brushes were next to worthless as the brush part keeps falling off and loosing hairs. That’s my only negative of the purchase. Any Chinese brush painting, Sumi brush or watercolor brush would work.
It’s a really good site, with instruction, tutorial, videos and more.

Steps –
1. Stretch silk on wood stretcher bars that have been covered with duck tape. You want the silk stretched taunt enough to keep it off the table surface. I used special silk tacks. The duck tape allows you to wipe off the bars to clean them for your next project. The bars are used to stretch artists canvas and come in a lot of different lengths. You just buy the sizes you need and put them together. The corners are slotted and mitered to go together easily. We spliced together bars that I already had to get the sizes that I needed. If you are handy you could just use 1″ by 2″ lumber and make your own.


2. I then sprayed the scarves with water to wet them completely. Next I randomly applied 3 colors of paint to each scarf. Red, yellow, orange to one. Violet, Magenta, cranberry to another. Turquoise, teal and azure blue. Any colors you like will work. I kept tilting them side to side, top to bottom, to allow the colors to run and blend. More water can be sprayed if the scarves dry too fast.


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3. Once the scarves are completely dry, I applied the patterns using the resist. The resist comes out pretty thick and fast, so it would be good to practice on something else first to get the feel of how it works. The resist makes barriers to contain the colors so the lines have to be complete, no gaps. Since the silk was dyed to begin with, there will be color under the resist where it normally would be white, like the scarf was to begin with.


3. Once the resist is completely dry, you can paint the pattern areas. I mainly used the same colors that I originally dyed the scarves with, sometimes adding a fourth contrasting color. The paint slowly spreads out, so don’t start too close to the edge of an area. Let the paint flow to the edge. You don’t want the paint to go over the resist into other areas. You can use the paint directly from the jars for rich solid colors. You can blend colors on the silk, using basic watercolor techniques. If you wet an area with clear water and then come back with a color along one side or edge, you will get a shaded look.


4. Around the edges I applied more clear water with a brush, then one or more of the colors and sprinkled with salt while still wet. Gives a very interesting effect.

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5. Now when completely dry, remove from frame and rub together to remove as much salt as possible. Then, protecting your ironing board with scrap piece of fabric, iron the scarf on the back side with dry iron at silk setting.

6. Now gently hand wash the scarf, using warm clear water. Hang to dry. When dry, press with dry iron on silk setting. If all wrinkles don’t come out, lightly mist with clear water and press again.

I have pictures of most of these stages but I haven’t figured out yet how to get them from my phone to my computer to this blog. I will be working on that.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Promise
    Nov 03, 2015 @ 20:57:43

    I LOVE this idea! I look forward to seeing your scarves!


  2. sgchatelain
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 14:37:23

    Beautiful! Thanks for the god description of the process.


  3. sgchatelain
    Nov 04, 2015 @ 14:37:55

    Oops. Mean Good description!


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