How to Use Resist

How to Use Jacquard Permanent Water Based Resist in Silk Painting

Guardian Ancestor, silk painting, Francesca De Grandis

by Francesca De Grandis, using Jacquard Permanent Water Based Resist and Jacquard Green Label Silk Dyes. All the black lines are resist.

Some folks want me to share how I use resists,  hence the following instructions.

Dye spreads every-which-way on silk unless resist lines contain it. Dharma Trading Company, a major retailer of fabric-art supplies, says, “Of all the products Dharma carries,…resists are the most technically difficult to use.” I hope my little how-to helps:

I apply resist using a resist applicator bottle.

A syringe is an easy way to get resist into that little bottle. Otherwise, it can be messy and difficult. I also wasted a lot of resist trying to get it into the little bottles before a friend told me about the syringe. Cut off some of the syringe tip, or its opening will be too narrow, because resist is very thick.

imageHolding the applicator bottle plumb, its tip resting gently on the silk, squeeze just a bit as you gently draw the tip across the silk. See pic for exact position:

All resist lines should connect and be unbroken. In other words, they should never end mid-space. But dye spreads so much on silk that it will bleed past a tiny gap in a resist line. After applying resist, I hold my silk so it is backlit, to see if there are any little gaps. If so, I fix that.

When the resist is dry, apply your dye. Use the smallest size silk-painting brush. If you can afford a good quality brush, it helps keep bits of dye from straying outside your lines. Use a tiny non-silk painting-brush if you have tiny spaces to fill.

Forest Elf Pixie Boy by Francesca De Grandis, AKA Outlaw Bunny

Forest Elf Pixie Boy by Francesca De Grandis, AKA Outlaw Bunny

Use something to raise your silk above the work surface. For example, when I paint on silk hoops (metal circles or squares that come with the silk glued on, see the pic to the left), I might put small bits of cardboard at the edge of the hoop to raise it. Otherwise, your silk rests directly on the work surface; then the dyes can puddle on the work surface and up against the silk; that puddle can run past your resist borders. Or I hold the hoop a bit off the table with one hand, brushing dye on with the other.

Brush on just a bit of dye in the center of a resist-defined space. If too much dye is applied, it pours past the resist. Wait a minute to see how much the dye spreads. If more is needed, apply it. If you touch your brush right up against resist, the dye may overflow.

If dye does bleed past a line, go with the flow. Nothing is perfect.

I dyed a white silk scarf green, then drew the silver rose plant and gold accents with silver and gold resist.

I dyed a white silk scarf green, then drew the silver rose plant and gold accents with silver and gold resist.

You might want to start using resists just to draw, or as accents on a dyed or painted piece. See pic to the right. Drawing with resists is good practice before using them to block spreading dye. If you do this, wait until the dye and paint are dry before applying resist.

A friend of mine who is a successful commercial artist has no luck using resist, except for accents. However, her six-year-old daughter uses resist like a pro. And, after my first dismal attempt at it, I caught on very quickly. So if you want to use them, jump in and just try. See if they are for you. Have fun!

And please post below, if you find all this technical stuff and discussion of supplies useful. It will encourage me to blog more of the same.

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5 Responses to How to Use Resist

  1. Pingback: Silk Luminaries DIY | Outlaw Bunny

  2. Ms. Bobbi says:

    I recently purchased the above resists you have used. I’m waiting for it to dry tonight. My question is : with previous resists I painted after dry time. Then steamed. Is that the process I should follow with these resists. Currently using black on silk white silk. I love your design on your long dress. When I said I steam, I mean wrap in butcher paper and steam for hours, not steam with iron. Should I steam with iron, how, going to use tin fix dyes for filling in and back ground. Thank you for your time any help appreciated. Again, love your design to the point of wanting to copy. It’s not often I find something original I like this much. :)

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Hiya, I set my resist with a dry iron, I hope that info helps. Just use Jacquard’s instructions on how to set resist with an iron. I do not know which of my dresses you mean, but thank you for your kind compliment. It is nice that you notice my designs are very original. Each one takes a long time to develop, so do not copy it if you are going to sell it. Making one or two dresses for yourself or a friend, ok. Let me know how the resist turns out. Resist can be a very fulfilling medium.

  3. Anne says:

    Hi Francesca,

    I came across your blog while trying to find a metallic gold resist. I would like it to look like the gold in illuminated manuscript. I am trying to use gold to write text on China silk and make it into a shirt. I’ve just made a sample with Jacquard’s water based gold resist but it looks more yellow, not very metallic. It’s still drying but it’s raised. Maybe after washing it will be flat? Would you have any suggestions on what product to use for that real gold look?

    Thanks for any info you can provide me.


    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Hi Anne,

      I’ll do what I can to help, but I’m no expert. Effects i achieve are mostly through experimentation, because I have no training.

      I do a lot of calligraphy and gold accenting on cloth, using either Jacquard’s water based gold resist or Jacquard’s Lumiere.

      Sometimes lines made with Jacquard’s water based gold resist are flat, sometimes raised. You could experiment on samples until you got a sense of how to make whichever you prefer.

      Also, remember that you’ll iron your cloth to set the resist. If memory serves, that can flatten it.

      I know what you mean about it looking yellow. Sometimes, when I go away and come back later, it is as if my subconscious gives up my preconceive notion of what gold should look like, because my calligraphy starts looking like gold.

      For me, and I’m only speaking for myself, fabric art demands that I go with the flow. So perhaps if you enjoy the resist as is, you might find it looking very much like illuminations. Just a thought.

      I also noticed that the way a gold tone looks depends on what color I’ve dyed the cloth.

      I’ve done non-cloth illumination work. What was pivotal for me to get that medieval look was my palette. No matter how I shaped the designs, they did not look like illuminations until I got the pallet right. Perhaps if your pallet as a whole is medieval, the gold will look right.

      You might also try Jacquard’s Lumiere various golds.

      You can also use Jones Tones foil; the gold really does resemble goldleaf. There’s a learning curve: you have to draw your designs in glue on the cloth, then you rub the foil against that, to stick the foil to the cloth. And you can’t iron or possibly even tumble dry clothing that has foil on it.

      I hope there’s something here useful to you. Please let me know how your project goes!

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