This was a one day project working with Year 1 children to make five silk banners. Each class table made a banner 1m x .5m, and their teacher sent me their drawings prior to our project so that I could work out a simple design from them. These are the dragons for each banner:
We started our day with a Power Point to introduce the children to the project and the different techniques before transferring the designs onto our silk. These are the five designs in colour so that the children could see what they might look like:
As you will see, each banner has a Chinese symbol in it. Banner 1 says ‘dragon’ and we then have ‘water’, ‘peace’, ‘friend’ and ‘strength’. I wanted the words to be appropriate but also easy enough for little ones to draw round!
Once the children had transferred the designs to the silk they then had a great time painting their banners. Everyone in the class took part and had a fantastic time with their art. Here are the finished banners, which I think are brilliant, especially given the ages of the children involved:
Hi there! These look great. could you tell me more about the process for painting on silk and the materials you used? I’d love to do this with my very small class for chinese new year. Thanks, Judi
Hi Judi, I’m not sure where you would get the materials in your area but most silk painting materials are easily available online now.
Basically you need a quite fine (but real) silk such as pongee rather than anything expensive (which would be more opaque). The children make drawings which you can then use the silk like tracing paper to see the designs through. Silk paint is very liquid so you need something to stop it from spreading all over the silk (unless that is what you want it to do). So you need something called gutta which acts as a barrier to the paint. Gutta is a gluey type substance which comes in all kinds of colours including gold and silver; avoid clear as it is very difficult to see when you apply it to the silk and so consequently easily painted over by mistake. You only need red, blue and yellow silk paints – the children can mix everything else themselves. I use polystyrene or plastic sectioned plates and give groups of children only two colours at a time. That way they can only make lovely jewel like colours rather than brown! Of course, when you need brown you can just mix all the paint that is left together. A whole day of silk painting would be as follows: make the designs and trace onto silk using the gutta. Let the gutta dry (use a hairdryer if necessary) and then give the children two colours of the paint initially, making them choose carefully which parts of the design they will use with those 3 colours (e.g. red plus yellow makes orange). When those are used then you can go onto another combination of colours. The paint goes a long way and dries quickly but the gutta needs longer and best left alone overnight. You will see from my projects that larger pieces of silk need to be stretched on batons or offcuts of wood but with smaller pieces old paintbrushes do fine. Just make sure when you paint that the silk doesn’t touch a surface or you will find that a capillary action takes place with the paint.
I hope all that helps and good luck.