Achievable Textile Art

There is a lot of debate about what makes art, particularly in the textile area. Often the answer revolves around the idea that art occurs when you follow your own creativity, step outside that which is more commonly ‘crafted’ and manipulate materials and media in a way that is original and expresses your individual voice. This series will explore a range of techniques and skills that allow you to achieve this.

By Cecile Whatman at Unique Stitching


Making Silk Paper Step by Step


One of the most liberating and empowering skills to have is to be able to create or alter your own fabrics and there are many ways to do this. One of my all-time favourites is making silk paper. This technique is quick, easy and one of the most adaptable and versatile you will find. Once you have made your silk paper, it is actually a piece of fabric. It is durable, washable, colourfast and can be used as any normal piece of fabric. Silk adds an amazing lustre to your work.

The materials you require for this session are:

  • Some different colours of 25 gm silk top (choose 3 that give you contrast, but blend together – as a reference, I used my Forest Floor, Burnt Embers and Sage Bush colourways).
  • Half a metre of netting – cheap, don’t buy tulle
  • Textile medium. There are many brands, but use what ever is available to you – Jo Sonja, Chromacryl, DecoArt etc.
  • A foam brush. I use a 2 to 3 inch one, but use what ever you have to hand.


You will also need a plastic bowl, some dishwashing liquid, warm tap water, plastic pegs and a place to spread out and work. Kits to make your own silk paper are available at


See the separate pdf on Silk Paper Making Instructions. You can print these out and work with them and the photos below.


Now I will step you through this with some photos.

Here are the silks I used in the sample.


Start by laying half of your net on a suitable work surface. Then, tease your silks out into piles. Each pack will give you a good thickness of layers at just larger than an A4 sheet. Use an A4 sheet as a guide in the first instance if you need to. These photos show two colourways. You will note that I have mixed the colours up a bit for texture and interest. You can be more monochromatic if you prefer.



Once you are happy with the depth of colour, place the second piece of net over the top and hold it in place with some clothes pegs. This will allow you to keep the silk in one place while you work it.

Mix some hot water and a good sized squirt of dishwashing liquid in a bowl. Silk, like all animal fibres, has oil on the surface of the fibre. The hot water and dishwashing liquid breaks the surface tension created by this oil, allowing the ‘glue’ to penetrate into the fibre in the next step. Use your brush to wet the silk all the way through. Flip the silk and net over (still pegged together) and wet the other side. Ensure that there are no air bubbles and that all the silk is wet through.

Once it is wet through, use a tea towel or two and dry the piece off so that it is still damp, but not drippy.


Then mix your textile medium (about 40 to 50 ml is enough) into three to five parts water.

Mix it through.


Paint the diluted textile medium on the damp silk, covering both sides and ensuring that the silk is fully covered by the medium solution. The textile medium solution is a milky colour so you can see where it is as you apply it.

Hang the silk, encased in the net on the clothesline and allow to dry.


When completely dry, gently lift the net off both sides of the silk. Work your hand under the net, between the net and the silk to release. Don’t worry if you get some snags. If you get snags, paint a little bit more medium solution on the snagged spot, without the net and allow this to dry.


Your finished, dry silk should look something like this:

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Unique Stitching is a regular exhibitor at our craft events and will be at the Craft & Quilt Fair in Brisbane on October 8 – 12, 2014. Come and join Cecile where you can learn printing, dyeing, mixed media and other textile art techniques in a hands-on class.



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