Newsletter – February 2010

It’s that time again when I sit down to impart to you all my latest “silky” news. And the strange thing is that the more time I invest in my creative endeavours, the quicker the time seems to pass and the more creative impulses I get. It makes it just a little difficult to fit things in although I do know that there is always more than enough time to do everything I choose. I’m finding a good exercise for focussing is just breathing into the present moment and then everything calms down and I can get on with the next step.

So on that note, here are some of the topics that I’ll be looking at in this newsletter with you:

  • my latest artwork
  • the Etsy shop
  • tie-dying
  • starting to write a new silk painting book
  • RedBubble t-shirt and new silk painting group
  • Silk Painting Gallery network on Ning
  • latest mandala template
  • Q & A
  • Miscellaneous: steaming and workshops

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My Latest Artwork

I usually like to start off my monthly letter by sharing with you some of my latest works of art. This past month has seen me sewing some new cushions and experimenting in tie dye. The first of these is a blue and purple cushion with gold gutta leaf design and lilac dupioni back panel. I had a few other panels still lying in my workroom from earlier and so I have been making them all up into cushions, too. I also have a few scarves which are now getting to see the light of day. :-)

And I have a commission piece done in acrylic which I am very proud of and which has already gone to its new home. This is our gorgeous puss Lakshmi reclining on her goddess silk cushion. I really gave her a pink one after she had lain on it a few times. I decided that it was probably meant for her and now she has it inside one of the gift boxes that I package cushions in. It looks quite cosy. Maybe I’ll get round to experimenting with painting animals on silk. A cat mandala may be rather attractive. An Egyptian version with Bast.

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The Etsy Shop

Many of you who are reading this newsletter will already have heard of Etsy or know that I signed up with them a few weeks ago. I thought about it years ago and then one person after another mentioned it to me, until Edie O’Reilly prompted me one more time and so I just couldn’t resist it any more. I went to and signed up. For those of you who have never heard of them, I’m going to give a few words of explanation. It’s a site which offers space for people to buy and sell hand-made or vintage items or supplies. You can open up your own ’shop’ there and start listing items on offer for others to buy. Or you can browse at leisure, looking for unusual gifts for family and friends. You can even have items commissioned in the Alchemy section. You can go into the site and passively look at everything but if you want to comment and buy or sell, you need to sign up. Everything is quite self-explanatory and there is plenty of help offered if you run up against difficulties. You can ‘favourite’ or ‘heart’ any single item or do the same for any seller and these then appear in a special section in your shop. That way we all advertise for each other. :-)

I started listing items there on 26th January and it has been good fun. You can go over and have a look at what I’ve set up at – . I am using this space for lots of the gift items that I have, such as scarves, cushions and the like.

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Experimenting with Tye-Die

At the beginning of the month I experimented a bit with tie-dye and here are some of the results. The red and pink pattern was achieved by rolling up a length of wool in a piece of silk, starting on the diagonal. I then tied up the long sausage with thread and added silk dye in different shades with my brush. When it was nearly dry I untied it and laid it out to thoroughly dry. The pale turquoise pattern was achieved by wrapping the silk around a broom handle and then scrunching it all tightly together. I then tied it up tightly with thread and dyed it with various shades using my brushes. Although the final results are rather pleasing I’ve been told by a more experienced tie-dyer that the tying techniques often look quite a bit different from mine, so I will be practising some more. It would be interesting to make bigger pieces of fabric and then sew them into items of clothing. I’ve got some books and websites to look at and will keep you posted.

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Starting to Write a New Silk Painting Book

I took the decision a few weeks ago to at last start a project I have been meaning to get going with for a long time. And that is writing a book on silk painting. I’m not intending to just compile a manual on how to paint on silk as that isn’t really a market niche. There are so many great books out there written by various artists that give you step by step guides on how to create silk paintings and teach you the various techniques that you can use. I’ve found it great fun putting together material for my blog over the past year and a half and every time someone asks me a specific question, it’s always fascinating to dig a big deeper and see what I can come up with. Gathering information has always hugely appealed to me as has writing profusely, so by combining these 2 skills I am channelling a lot of energy and enthusiasm into a project that will bring me a lot of fun and fulfilment and at the same time producing a finished piece that will hopefully be of great use to many people.

I will be using the material that I have gathered over the past years as well as taking the opportunity to ask my silk painting peers for their experiences and thoughts on many topics.

And how long this will take me to complete? At the moment there is no answer to that question. It’s a bit like, how long is a piece of string. The important thing is to start, make a big mind map and see where it leads me. And along the way anything can happen. I guess there are many mini-books contained within this larger project and the formats are varied – DVD, CD ROM, eBook, hardback, paperback, audio. There really are no limits at all. I would love to involve as many people as possible and will be taking lots of opportunities to ask questions and get feedback as I go.

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RedBubble:Featured T-Shirt and the New Silk Painting Group

I mentioned in the last newsletter that I had opened a page on the RedBubble site, a website for artists to showcase their work and give each other feedback. There are various sections on the site including art, clothing and journal. I submitted one of my mandalas as a clothing design and chose colours for it to be in. I then submitted it to various groups on the site which would then post my artwork on their page for others to look at. Every now and then the different groups pick a handful of designs and feature them. I was thrilled to have my YinYang in Pink Mandala T-Shirt featured in the “Art at its Best” group.

This is what it looks like:

YinYang Mandala in Pink T-Shirt

Here is the link to the page on RedBubble:

This t-shirt is for sale as are all art works presented on the site. You can choose from clothing, greeting cards, posters, prints and framed pictures. It’s a fabulous place to go and enjoy all the amazing paintings on view whether or not you are there to buy. And if you sign up, you go leave lots of feedback for the artists as well as contact them by BubbleMail.

Another piece of news linked with the RedBubble site is that I have created a new group there together with Francine Dufour Jones, called “Silk Painting – Vibrancy, Joy and Colour”. It is still in its infant stage and we are encouraging silk painters to come on board and exhibit their work there. The first works of art are being displayed and it’s certainly a gorgeous splash of colour. Please come along and be part of this new venture. If you’d like any help at all about getting on board, please just ask me and I’ll be more than delighted to help out. We’d love to have you with us.

Here’s the link to their home page.

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The Silk Painting Gallery Network on Ning

A few weeks ago I joined another online group which was started by very talented silk painter and photographer Francine Dufour Jones on the Ning network. It is a wonderful forum where silk painters of all abilities can meet together and share ideas, ask questions, post photos, blog, upload videos, ask for help and anything else they can think of. Silk painting becomes really fascinating when you glimpse behind the scenes. :-)

If you’d like to come along and join in, just let me know and I can send you an invite. Alternatively you can go ahead and sign up yourself on the network by clicking here.

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Q & A

Every time I use gutta it just bloops no matter what I do. What would you suggest I do?

Yes, the gutta bloops when we paint on silk, doesn’t it? No matter how long you’ve been painting for, there are days when you get that bloop that sneaks in to try and sabotage your painting. It can be really annoying, however, there are some basic things you can do to counteract this. Watch for the temperature at which you store your gutta. If it gets too warm this can have an effect on the consistency and make it a bit thicker and this results in gloopiness which negatively affects the flow of your gutta. Put your tub in a cool dark place if possible at a constant temperature. Also, try just to fill small amounts of gutta into your plastic bottle, just enough to allow you to complete your work for that day. And air can get into the bottle at any time when you are refilling. It’s important to keep a steady hand so that if blooping does occur, you are better able to control the outcome. I always make very slow contemplated movements when I am using gutta. It’s a meditation. When I am drawing particularly tricky shapes or making circles that have to be exact, I always draw on the outward breath and keep the pressure on the bottle constant.

Pressing too hard can result in much more blooping. And changing the pressure as you go. Pressing hard and then with light pressure. Just keep the pressure constant as if you were using a treasured fountain pen with a delicate nib. Think of using gutta as a great skill. It’s a bit like cake icing. It’s an art to be practised. :-)

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Free Mandala Template

“Good”‘ news and “bad” news on this front. The downside is that no-one was brave

Free Mandala Template 003

enough to submit their artwork this month for me to post in the blog. Awww. But the good news is that I have another free mandala template to share with you this month. Just download it and print it out then you can transfer it to your silk.

I do, however, have a piece of lovely artwork sent to me by Michele Drivon, USA. She was inspired to create her own beautiful mandala and I think you would enjoy seeing it too. I have sent an email asking her permission to print her artwork here. (A thousand apologies to you, if you decide you’d rather not have it shown, Michelle).

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Steaming Service

The first changes are being introduced to this new service. I would like to extend it to you being able to send me your artwork for steaming whenever you need it and I will endeavour to get it back to you as soon as is humanely possible. :-)

Silk Painting Workshop Dates:

March 20th, 2010 -

Create Your Own Mandala – from 10am to 4pm – cost £49 all inclusive

March 27th, 2010 -

Silk painting for Beginners – from 10am to 4pm – cost £45 all inclusive

* Please contact me for more details and to register.

And that was it once again.

If you have enjoyed reading this newsletter, please let me know by leaving your comments at the bottom. Also, if you have any suggestions as to what you would like me to include next time, let me know too. Enjoy your day, your painting, your life.

Blessings to all of you


10 Responses to “Newsletter – February 2010”

  1. Wow, I really like your blog page. I love the layout of the blog, the whole design of the page, especially all the lovely colours and the beautiful background of pinky purple with those lovely subtle designs. I love all your ideas, you are great at being proactive. I love your tie dying and also like the ideas of the online sites you mentioned to sell and to get feedback on art work. I also love the t-shirt design. I like the idea of putting art on clothes and accessories, it works really well. I love the utube video, the designs and how they go smoothly from each one to the next one and the fabulous egyptian type music. Well done. Your work is fabulous.

    • Fiona says:

      Trish, thank you so much for your lovely feedback. I’m glad you are enjoying connecting through this newsletter and it reminds that it’s all very much worthwhile. xx

  2. Fiona,
    Great newsletter!!!! I know it was alot of work creating it, but keep them coming our way!

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Bonnie, nice to see you here. Glad you are enjoying reading my newsletter – thanks for your feedback. Maybe see you on RedBubble soon?? xx

  3. Edie says:

    Hello My Dear. Another lovely newsletter….I still have the intention of making it over to one of your workshops and/or monthly meetings. Keep up the good work!

    Much love,

  4. !ooooo!, I am tickled pink to have my mandala on your blog!! I must take and send you pictures of the more recent ones; that was just from the first night of class and the others I spent quite a bit more time on. How lovely!! Thank you, Fiona!

  5. Penny Lawrence says:

    Love the newsletter and am really excited about my first course with you on 27th March.
    Love the cushions – hope to make some myself oneday!

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Penny

      Great to get your feedback and I am looking forward to meeting you next month. Good idea about the cushions. I’ve thought of running a workshop. I’ll maybe do that soon. x

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