I have been asked countless times by people how I come up with these unique and intricate designs. Do I throw paint at the tie? Do I paint them with a brush? Do I just blob the paint on at random? Is part of the design already on the silk? Well, I've decided to let you all in on my secret, read on and I'll show you how it's done.
I mix my paints by eye before each session. This ensures fresh colours and a new look with every marbling. A "bath" is then prepared for the paint to float on (like a canvas). The bath is made by mixing seaweed with boiling water and letting sit for an hour or so. The mixture is then stirred vigorously until a "thick goo" like consistency is achieved.
Before painting, the surface must also be cleaned of bubbles and dirt particles using newspaper or a special flat tool. This also helps release the surface tension of the mixture. Ideally, baths that have different consistencies are used to produce different effects. The water based paint or dye is also mixed to the desired consistency (for differing effects) - mixed thin it spreads more easily, but mixed too thick - and it sinks.
The paint or dye is then applied to the bath with eye-droppers. This technique allows for better control of design and generates less waste. Many colours can be applied to the same bath. They will simply float beside one another without mixing (until the next step). When I'm happy with the colour mixture and effect, I take one of a selection of design manipulation tools (hair pick, skewer, etc...) and I start creating.
For different effects, I use different tools on different colour mixtures, with baths of different consistencies. This is why every tie, scarf or cummerbund is different. When I am happy with the design, I choose a suitable piece of silk that will be complimented by the design. It is then laid very gently on the bath, not to disturb it. The silk is left on the paint for a minute or so, letting it soak up the paint. The silk is then very carefully "peeled" from the bath surface. Excess bath mixture is let drip off, then the silk piece is hung to dry.
Once dry, the fabric is re-rinsed with cold water, then hung to almost dry again, at which point it is steam ironed on the "wrong" side of the fabric to make it colourfast. And the process continues until the sun goes down... :-)
I truly love what I am doing here, and I sincerely hope it shows in the special piece that you choose for your fine wardrobe... Thanks for visiting.
Check out this quick video on instagram