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Silk Colouring Workshop

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by Irenke Forsyth (subscribe)
A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at
Published June 16th 2019
Unleash your creativity
It was with excitement I headed to Marrickville recently to learn a new skill, that of silk colouring. Dyeing fabric is something I had never done before and when I came across the words 'silk dyeing with salt', it piqued my interest. I was curious about the salt aspect of it.

Booking the workshop through ClassBento was a spontaneous decision and a good one. This fun class involved turning a white Habotai silk scarf into a starburst of colour. No skill is required and your created piece of wearable art is truly unique.

Upon arrival at Monster Mouse Studios, I was greeted by teacher Vanessa and led upstairs to the workspace where my creative being would be unleashed. Inspiring were the designs on display. Various colours and outcomes of mesmerising patterns had me in awe of what was possible and I was eager to begin this two hour class.

Silk Colouring Workshop, ClassBento
The teacher's colourful pieces

A two minute mindfulness practice had us closing our eyes and breathing to centre ourselves and connect with our inner creative wisdom. We were then taken through the step-by-step process with tips on arranging and blending colours.

Our silk was already pinned to a frame for us. Using foam brushes, the first step was to wet the silk with water before applying our chosen colours. As a guide, three or four colours maximum is best. I chose four colours for my scarf, starting with a mauve centre before adding a pastel green for the majority of the artwork. I used a deeper purple for a border and once the entire silk had been covered in paint I splattered a crimson colour over the top using a regular paint brush.

One has to act quickly and not deliberate too much as the next step is adding salt to the artwork and this needs to be done whilst the paint is wet. Rock salt was used but you could also use regular salt or even sugar. You can experiment with anything that absorbs the paint.

Silk Colouring Workshop, ClassBento
With everything added, it's now a waiting game for the salt to do its bit

Note, where you place the salt is where your white spaces will be so don't cover the whole piece in salt or you'll have little to no colour left. You can place the salt strategically or simply throw it on the silk. I did some throwing and sprinkling on most of my piece and then around the border I put clusters of salt for a different effect.

The salt stays on for at least 10-15minutes, depending on the size of the silk, but you can leave it on a lot longer to bring out patterns with more pronounced white areas. Basically, you watch the transformation of patterns as the salt soaks up the paint and, when you're happy with the result you then tilt the frame and shake the salt off.

Silk Colouring Workshop, ClassBento
You can see the salt working, creating white spaces

Silk Colouring Workshop, ClassBento
More progression here and happy with the formation at this point, I shook the salt off

The final step is drying the silk with a hairdryer. For a small piece measuring 45x45cm, 12mins drying is required and, for my 70x70cm piece, it needed 20mins on the heat setting. This is to not only dry the material but to set the colour.

Afterwards, we were advised to hand wash the scarf in cold water at home and add a little fabric softener before letting it dry and putting it to use.

Overall, I was very happy with my scarf. It came out looking very floral and I loved the end result. I was so pleased and surprised at what I had created. The colours went well together and it had me asking "Where can I get the materials to do this at home?"

The answer is online and if you want to dabble in this type of dyeing, then here's the main items used in the workshop and where you can get them:-

The silk is from Kraftkolour in Victoria
The paint is German, the type is Marabu Silk from Marabu Australia in WA
The adjustable frame is from Jackson's Art in London (with prices in Australian dollars)

Silk Colouring Workshop materials
The required materials at our disposal

Rock salt can be obtained from your local supermarket whilst foam brushes, from small to large sizes, are available at Bunnings, Spotlight & art stores. Plastic cups for your water and paint were also used.

I strongly recommend you try the workshop first before doing it at home as the teacher's advice is instrumental. Vanessa is a designer with many years of experience in the fashion industry and has a lot of good knowledge to depart.

It's a small class with a maximum of 6 students and all materials are provided. At $60 per person, it's inexpensive. I've seen silk scarfs in shops and online costing a whole lot more. Here you gain pleasure in the piece being unique and the satisfaction that you created it. Your piece is also flexible and can be used as a handbag accessory, a tablecloth, framed artwork or gift for someone special.

Silk Colouring Workshop, ClassBento
A piece from another happy classmate

Workshops run on Saturday mornings from 10am-12pm and include morning tea. They're popular for individuals and groups celebrating birthdays, hens' parties, baby showers and other special occasions.

New students can get a $10 discount using this link.
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Why? For the love of learning
When: Saturdays 10am-12pm
Where: 9 Gerald St, Marrickville
Cost: $60
Your Comment
Great article Irenke, it looks like a lot of fun.
by Amanda I (score: 2|819) 619 days ago
Note to clarify:- the discount link at the end of the article can be used for any ClassBento class and not just the Silk Colouring workshop.
by Irenke Forsyth (score: 3|2366) 619 days ago
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