There are many ways to stretch a scarf for silk painting. The object is to gently stretch it taut into a frame and lay it flat. That will give it stability while you work and keep it from sagging and touching your table top. The dye will be able to penetrate underneath the clips so you’ll have even dyeing all around the edges, and the scarf won’t touch the stretcher bars so no dye gets transferred.
There are several kinds of frames and clips, and ways to attach those clips to your frame. I’ll be showing you two of my favorite ways to stretch a scarf for painting.
In my ebooks, we use wooden stretcher bars for artists canvas and rubber bands attached to bulldog clips. Bulldog clips are the kind used for name tags and lanyards. You can also use plastic coated wire clips or binder clips. You can use any kind of clip that will hold your silk without tearing it.
If you’re using a stretcher bar frame like we used in MySilkArt eBook 1: Silk Painting Basics for Beginners, your bars should be about 6 inches longer than your scarf. In the ebook we use 22-inch scarves and 28-inch stretcher bars (they are not adjustable). You need a couple of inches between the edge of the scarf and the bar to get your hand in so you can work the clips.
But if you plan to paint scarves of different sizes, it’s better to use an adjustable frame.
This is the method I use most of the time. These are adjustable wooden stretcher bars held together by bolts and wing nuts. To find out how to make and use these, check out my previous blog from August 2013, Making and Assembling an Adjustable Silk Painting Frame.
When you assemble your frame, give yourself an inch and a half to 2 inches of space all around the scarf so you can reach in and work the clips. In the video, we’re using a 36-inch square scarf and I’ve assembled the frame for about a 40-inch square of space in the middle.
You’ll be attaching bulldog clips to string, which will be wrapped around pins pushed into the frame. Start by placing stainless steel push pins along where the scarf will go from corner to corner, about 5 inches apart or so. Don’t use plastic bulletin board pins, they will fall out. Get heavy duty stainless steel push pins, available where silk painting supplies are sold. I found mine at www.dharmatrading.com. Go around and give each pin a tap or two with a small hammer to make sure they’re in securely. Place a small block or jar lid underneath the top bars of the frame to give them support from the bottom while you hammer. Don’t hammer the pins all the way in, just enough to make sure they don’t pop out.
Now you’ll need to cut your cotton string into pieces about 20-22 inches long. Use string that has texture so that it can grab onto itself when you wrap it around a pin. If the string is smooth, it will slip and won’t work. Use twisted cotton twine.
Bend the string in the middle and push it through the hole in the clip, then pull the rest of the string through the loop and pull it tight. Tie a knot in each end to keep it from unravelling.
You can just leave the strings in the clips forever, that way they’ll be ready to use the next time you want to paint a scarf.
Next, you’ll clip in the corners of your scarf. Start by attaching the clips on one corner and try to keep the scarf in the center of the frame. Now wind the string around the corresponding pins, letting the string overlap itself on the pin a few times to hold it. Let your loops stack on top of each other up the pin shaft. Don’t tie a knot in the string, it will hold because of the friction of the string. Believe me, you don’t want to have to fool with knots on every pin, this would get very tedious and it’s unnecessary. This is a fast and easy method that works. Do all four corners. Adjust where you need to to center your scarf in the frame.
Now do the same thing along one side of the scarf; attach the clips to the silk, then wrap the strings around the pins. Keep the clips on just the hem. Go to the opposite side and clip it in. Then do the other two sides.
Your scarf should be stretched taut but not tight. You just want it suspended above your work surface without sagging, not stretched as tight as a drum. You’ll probably need to place blocks under each corner before you start painting; the silk will get heavier and sag as it gets wet and you want to keep it from touching your table top. You can also rinse your clips when you finish and take your scarf out of the frame; this will keep any dye that got on the clips from transferring to the next scarf you paint.
Thanks for watching, I hope this was helpful. Happy silk painting!