Stop Flow Method by Karen Sistek

25 10 2011
I thought I would share this email from Karen Sistek regarding a technique she uses in silk painting. I had asked her how she uses “Magic Sizing”. This is her reply. Thank you Karen for allowing me to reprint this and share this with the other silk painters on Silk Painting Gallery Network.

“I am very happy to answer any questions. 
THe sizing is more of a ‘sizing’ ( I am thinking that it is similar to what the textile mfg. put into their fabrics at the mill). and works differently than the spray starch. I Originally started experimenting with spray starch and hair spray. I prefer the sizing.It leaves no film or thickness to the silk. It does work as a ‘stop flow’ as it fills the fibers of the silk….I dilute the dyes mostly with the sizing. ( rarely water) or alcohol, or VODKA. Yes, the Vodka works wonderfully and no smelly odors. With some colors, the Vodka actually is more reactive than the alcohol. I paint upright ( bad neck and back) and that was most helpful in creating this technique, as too much dye, and I have a whole new design!.. I use very little dye. I use an eye dropper ( fabulous dye bottle come with the dropper on the lid. They are from Susan Louise Moyer ). and keep my dyes in water color trays, so that I can ‘sneak’ up on the dyes, with just the edges of my oval mop ( Robert Simmons oval mop. keep the dyes on the edge of the brush…and ‘scrub’ the dyes into the silk, rather than applying more dye and letting it flow. Each stroke will leave a line, so it has to be moved and scrubbed immediately. 
I have students come from literally all over to learn my technique… and have been asked many times to video the process… just have not had time to pursue. 
If you go to my website and check out  “The Allemen Project Gallery”. I think that you might be able to see some of the process. I hope to have lots of new ‘stuff’ on my website soon! Right now, my husband is super busy making my frames for me….( he does EVERYTHING, .. manages our business and takes care of the house to allow me to paint paint paint!) 
I hope that you experiment soon.. and I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have. 
Happy Painting! 
Karen Sistek “
Karen’s website is :

Tags: KarenMagicSistekSizingflowstopvodka


Pre-treating Silk

19 10 2011

On the Silk Painting Network I had asked one of our members Liena Dieck if she pre-coats her silk to achieve the fine detail in her silk paintings. I was amazed at how she created her beautiful portraits.


“Esperanza” by Lieana Dieck

I love that one of her missions is to help silk painting be more accepted as a fine art form.

Make sure you check out Liena’s pageShe recently posted a step by step illustration of one of her methods on her Silk Painting Network page. 

Her website is

I wanted to share this with everyone in case you missed it. This is what she said…

“To answer your question, I do pre-treat my stretched silks before I paint on them with dyes.
 I do not use gutta or any turpentine-based product that companies make to stop

the flow of dyes on silk (I think, Dupont sells something that in French is

called “anti-fusant”, i.e. thinned solvent-based gutta). Having painted large scale murals in
oil for a client for over 2 years, I developed a 
severe allergic reaction to turpentine, having inhaled a lot of fumes while I was painting the walls and the ceiling, so now I cannot use solvent-based

products or cleaners. I switched to natural thickeners and use them in my

painting all the time.

You can use starch (cooked with water to a gravy consistency, or from a spray

can that one would use for ironing), sodium alginate (Dharma or Pro-Chemical),

agar-agar, some water-based glues that are used to adhere wall-paper to the

walls, dye thickener (Dharma, Pro-Chemical), printing paste (Pro-Chemical),

etc. I prefer gum thickener from Algo Manufacturing Co (81-83 Franklin St., NY,

NY 10013. Ph. # 1-866-293-8913). It is a non-hazardous powder. You prepare it

according to the instructions on the package – just sprinkle it over hot water,

stir, let stand until dissolves completely. I apply the clear glutinous stuff

that results from this preparation process to my stretched silk, let it dry and

then draw on it and start painting with dyes. The dyes may still spread a

little, so you need to control the amount of dye/water on your brush. Once the

painting is complete, I steam it for 6 hours between layers of clean newsprint

paper. After that I wash the primer out of silk and it gets the same hand as

before I treated it with gum thickener. That is all.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

All the best,


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