Archive for September, 2010

September Newsletter

Me relaxing in Cornwall

A big hello to all you lovely people reading this newsletter. I’m glad to be able to connect with you all again after a bit of a break.  It’s September now and the school is starting up again which is always a bit strenuous after weeks of not very much routine. I’m so glad we’re getting some gorgeous hot days again as I find it really rejuvenating to be out in the warmth relaxing.

So as I try to gather my thoughts and remember what I’ve been doing over the past few months, lots of ideas spring to mind. The most recent event was a week’s break down in Cornwall, this time down on the ‘underside’ in Falmouth. It was a last-minute plan and I”m glad that we made the time to have the time off.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been down there and had a chance to visit the splendid sub-tropical gardens they have there. Quite something else. It’s been a few years since I’ve visited Cornwall and I had earmarked one particular garden to go along and have a look at one my next visit. I was delighted to be able to go there this time round and had a fabulous two days at Trebah Gardens in Mawnan Smith.

It’s built into the valley and ends in a private pebble beach at the lower end. At this time of the year the carpets of hydrangea are still all sorts of gorgeous pastel shades, whites, light pinks, lilacs, blues and so many inbetween shades. The majority are fading, but it makes them look fascinating, as there are suddenly  many more autumnal shades  in play. A real feast for the eyes.

And I think the highlight was exploring the gunnera (giant rhubarb) passage. It grows up to 5 metres and you can forage about in the

Ornamental Bridge at Trebah

undergrowth, really getting a good feel for what it must be like to be an insect. :-)   You know the film A Bug’s World? ….I took masses of photos which I think will give me inspiration for my painting.

It’s quite incredible how many mandalas there are in nature when you slow down and take the time to really look at what is going on around you. One spot in particular was a stone wall which had been filled with lots of tiny succeluents and other floral delicacies. When you zoom in for the macros, it’s amazing how intricate all the little mandalas are. Nature certainly has a way of creating such beauty.

The beach in Trebah Gardens, Cornwall

As I was packing up to go off to Cornwall, I had just tried out something new and was really wishing I could pack my whole silk painting kit with me. A week or so before that I had taken the plunge and tried out my first piece of silk painting using soya wax. And so I’d like to share a bit of my process here with you.

Experimenting with Soya Wax and Silk Painting

The inspiration for all of this came from a thread that my lovely silk painting friends on the Ning Silk Painting Gallery had been having on the topic of using soya wax. I had just been listening in from the wings for a while and it wasn’t until a few later that I suddenly got the urge to have a go myself.  So I set about finding what I needed to get going.

After a few Google searches I found a lovely website that sold all sorts of candlemaking supplies as well as all sorts of mythical and magical bits and pieces. The next day the package of soya wax pellets arrived at my door and off I went.

It was quite a strange feeling to be trying out something new again, which meant that, despite my knowing that I have many years’ experience in silk painting, I rather nervous as I was on completely new territory.

This is really good for those of us who have been doing the same thing for a while. It’s great to take on a challenge and stretch yourself in a new direction.

I have been documenting what I did on my blog and if you’d like to have a look at my posts about the soya wax silk painting, click here. But here it all is in a  nutshell for those  of you who would like to know right now what I was doing. :-)

I painted a background on the silk in various shades of light lilac and fuchsia. Next I heated up the wax and painted a design on

Soya wax painted onto the silk

the silk. When this was dry, I scrunched it all up, making cracks all over the hardened wax. I thien painted over the wax with darker shades and finally, after drying, ironed the wax off using newspaper to soak it all up. The rest of the wax came off during the steaming.

I’ve just started out with wax and can see that there is a huge wide world waiting out there for me to explore. Joanna Reid Cotter has been giving me hints and tips as I go, so you might like to pop over to her beautiful blog and have a look at some of her amazing silk projects, especially the soya wax tyes and scarves.  Her photos of Bubba the Cat enjoying my chakra cards are delightful. :-

Joining the blogging team with UKHandmade

And what else have I been doing? You’ll remember that I won an article writing competition run by UKHandmade and they published an interview with me on their blog. In the meantime they have been looking for people to join their blogging team….so guess what I did? Now I’ll be contributing  someblog posts under the headings INSPIRE and REVIEW, which appear on Saturdays but they have really interesting and informative  posts every day of the week. My first post appeared on Saturday 28th August. Why not go over and have a look. I’m sure there’s lots that could interest you there. Here’s the link: UKHandmade Blog

They also publish an online magazine once a quarter and the article I submitted has been published in the Autumn Issue which just came out on September 1st.  Again, it’s jam-packed with goodies and well worth having a read. Here’s the link to it: UKHandmade Autumn Magazine 2010

Newest Makes

I just realised that there are still a few pictures I haven’t yet shared with you. One is of a clutch bag I painted in black and gold using satin silk. I was very pleased with the final result and hope to have a picture of its owner using it very soon. :-)

Satin silk black clutch bag with gold leaves

It’s lined with dupioni silk and has a silver clasp. I took several pictures of it in the making and may well put together a post for the blog.

Embroidered silk ring pillow

The other item I made is a little ring pillow.  I used various silks I have here in my studio, not any of my handpainted silks. But I was very pleased with the end result either way. The top is made from a very pretty embroidered silk with a dupioni under panel.  It has been stuffed with a hypo-allergenic filling making it both healthy and very light.

Massive price reductions on many of my silks:

So now I’m moviing on to some news about me decluttering. I’ve been taking stock and see that I am really quite a hamster. That applies to all areas of my life.  And it hasn’t escaped my attention that my work studio is full of shelves holding all sorts of bright, vibrant and interesting things which are very beautiful but take up lots of space.  So this is what I’ve decided. I’m going to start shifting many of these things out of my work space and instead of putting them elsewhere, I would like to shift them to new homes. What this means for you is that you have the opportunity of buying many of my silks at greatly reduced prices as I move on to new pastures. I began this process yesterday by reducing all of my mandala cards. I love them to bits but I have boxes and boxes of them in my home which no longer works for me. It takes a bit of time to go through the online shops and make the necessary alterations so I will be doing this in small steps and will keep you informed of what I am offering. Even if you don’t see these online, you can contact me and ask about them at

Here are the first reductions:

Individual mandala greeting cards:  Were £2.50, now £1.50 (approx. $2.30 plus pp)

Packs of 12 mandala greeting cards: Were £25.00 , now £15.00 (approx. $23.00 plus pp)

Packs of 7 chakra mandala greeting cards: Were  £14.00 now £12.00 (approx. $19.00) plus pp

Hand painted scarves: Were various prices around £33, now £20 (approx. $30.00 plus pp)

I have many scarves in stock which are not online, so please ask me if you are interested and I can post more photos.

* You can buy all of these either from the Etsy shop or directly from me at

If the listing in Etsy is marked as SOLD, just mail me as there are plenty more.

Upcoming Arts and Crafts Fairs

I’m going to be taking part in the Paintworks Art Fair which is on Sunday, 19th September in Bristol.  This will be my first time there and I’ve heard that it’s a very popular event both for vistors and participants. It runs from 10am – 5pm and here’s the link: Paintworks Arts Fair

Another event you can catch up with me at is the ‘Open House’ Arts Trail in Totterdown. It runs from Friday,  November 19th to Sunday 21st. My venue is in a private home. Fashion designer Eva Thyghoj will be opening her doors for the weekend and creating space for a total of 5 artists and creative designers. There will be a wine reception on the Friday evening so make sure you pop by to say hello and give yourself some fabulous treats. I’l be publishing the exact details of how to get there in the next newsletter.

Q and A:

This question was prompted by a forum discussion we recently had and is about dye bleeding from the silk after fixing.

When I recently washed my piece of silk after steaming, there was lots of dye coming out. I found this a bit alarming. Does it mean that I haven’t steamed the fabric properly?

Yes, it can be alarming when you have steamed your silk scarf and then when your rinse it out, loads of dye bleeds from the fabric. Firstly, though, don’t forget that it always looks worse than it is because the water magnifies the effect. The first rinse will most likely have the biggest bleed. Pour away the water and rinse again. Just use clear water. You don’t need to add anything as your silk is new and clean. This bleeding happens because your silk fabric can only absorb a certain amount of dye. If you have put on dye to over-saturation, this will simply come out again in the wash. So no cause for alarm.

What to watch out for? If your scarf suddenly becomes very pale and washed-out looking and the dye is gushing out, this is a sign that the dye has not been fixed properly and has not bonded with the silk fibre. So you need to start trouble-shooting in the direction of how to effectively steam-fix your dyes. Have a look at my blog for some information that might help you here.

If you add shampoo or some kind of detergent to the silk when rinsing, you may find that the soapy bubbles continue to keep the colour of the scarf, despite repeated rinsing.  This does not necessarily mean that you have not steamed properly. The detergent removes the barrier between the water and the dye, allowing small amounts of excess dye to escape from the fabric. Again, this always looks much worse than it is. Keep rinsing with luke-warm clear water.

A scarf that is losing its dye looks very different. The colour is very intense, as opposed to the smaller paler amounts that escape due to soap.


If there’s anything at all that you’d like to know about silk painting, or anything you are perhaps stuck with, please contact me either here in this letter by leaving a comment or question below,  or on my blog at or even at and I will do my best to help you out in any way I can.

Remember to have a look at my other sites at: – you can order t-shirts with my mandalas on them there as well as prints of various types of most of my artwork – in German and still in development stage but nice to look at)

And of course the Silk & Art Facebook page where you can chat to me and leave comments:

Other very useful sources are: – a very friendly forum for beginners and advanced silk painters to share ideas, ask questions and show around your own artwork

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this newsletter. It’s always fun to put together as I never know how it’s going to turn out. I look forward to hearing from you all as usual and please feel free to leave any comments at the bottom of this page.

Sending you all warm wishes and lots of enjoyment in all your creative endeavours.


Fiona :-) x

2 Responses to “September Newsletter”

  1. Great photos Fiona! What a beautiful place – lots of inspiration. Glad to see you’re enjoying your adventures in wax!

    • Fiona says:

      Hi Deborah, Thanks for your feedback. Yes, Cornwall is really beautiful. I’ll sit down and have a good look at the photos I took. And this evening I’m intending to do some more wax painting. This time with a much finer brush. x

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