Double Silk Paintings

Double Silk Paintings

by Pamela Glose

One of my favorite ways to paint silk is to use two layers of fabric in the same frame.  The base layer is painted on plain-weave China (habotai) silk, and the top layer is painted on sheer silk such as chiffon or organza.  Since you can see through the top layer, the illusion of movement can be created if the paintings are slightly different.  The dye colors also look richer and deeper when layered over each other.

I’ll show you the basics of how this works using my double silk painting, “Pileated Family”.  This piece was inspired by the impressive, endangered Pileated woodpeckers my husband and I are sometimes lucky enough to spot while we’re camping or boating down one of our Central Florida rivers.

pileated family“Pileated Family” is a double silk painting (two silk paintings layered together in the same frame).  The base layer is on China silk, and the top layer is on silk chiffon.




First, I created a silk painting on China silk and mounted it to a solid piece of foam board that fit exactly into my frame.  I like to paint on 10 mm fabric.  Here’s a picture of the base layer:


IMG_2589 Next, I created another painting on silk chiffon.  I changed some of the lines and colors in the second (top) painting to create the illusion of movement when the paintings were stacked together.  Here are the two paintings placed next to each other and overlapping.



This is a picture of the top chiffon layer from the BACK.  I have mounted it to a piece of foam board (the same size as the base layer foam board) and neatly cut out most of the middle of the board.


This is so that you can see through this painting to the base layer beneath it.  I used glue around the outer edges of the foam board to attach the silk.


Here I am layering the two paintings, about to place them into the frame.  In the picture, the top layer is being placed and lowered right down onto the base layer.




This is the back of the frame with the silk paintings inside; there are more layers of foam board pieces stacked inside to take up excess space inside the frame behind the paintings.  I used a pre-made frame with a glass front, 17 x 21 inches, that I found at Michael’s craft store.


The closures on the back of this frame are little metal pieces that slide into a groove on the frame edge.  These hold everything into the frame.




It’s easiest to hang the painting if you string a piece of wire between the little triangular hanging hooks on the back of the frame.  You can see where I did this in the upper right corner of the picture:


Here it is all put together and ready to hang on a wall.



Here is another example of one of my double silk paintings, “Osprey”, using the same size pre-made frame.  This painting was inspired by the beautiful Osprey I have often seen while driving over a long bridge on the way to my gallery studio.  It’s an awesome sight to see one flying with a freshly nabbed fish caught fast in its talons.

OspreyBaseosprey  The first image is the base layer, the second one is the base and top chiffon layer put together.  In the top layer, you can see where I changed the position of the wings and the fish to create the illusion of movement.  I also added more circles, colors and curves to punch up interest, depth, and movement.  It’s always exciting to create one of these double paintings; you never know precisely what it will look like until its final placement in the frame.





  • Diane

    How did you attach the silk to the form core?

    • pglose

      I used a thin line of white glue around the edges of the foam core and then placed the silk flat on top of the foam core, right over the glue. I let it dry and then trimmed off the excess silk.

  • Karren Reyburn

    Would this work with organza?

    • pglose

      You bet. I use both organza and chiffon for the top layer of my doubles. I’ve found that you don’t need to use resist or gutta to make lines on the organza (but you do have to on chiffon). The dyes don’t flow as easily on organza. Do a little test with your dyes on an organza scrap to see if you get the same results.

  • Татяна Дойкова

    Wonderful pictures ! It can be used for scarves

    • pglose

      Yes, it would be gorgeous!

  • Thanks for the reply and that share their experiences. I’ll try to do double scarf.