Using Paint Rather Than Dyes on Silk

Daniel Jean-Baptiste water effectBased on the Video by Artist Daniel Jean-Baptiste

In the text below, Barbara Gabogrecan gives her description and critique based on the video


It is somewhat confusing when one speaks of Silk Painting as there are two distinct types of silk art. One paints using dyes and the other uses paint. Daniel Jean-Baptiste uses liquid pigment paints which requires different techniques, but will still give lovely vibrant colours, enhancing the luminosity of the silk.

Daniel style is a modern form of Batik, though the wax does not necessarily act as a resist, but rather as contour. This use of wax is very different to the original Batik of Asian artists; it is used in the same way as gutta is used. Even the tools are different.

Instead of using the copper bowl and spout of a tjantin (canting) to hold the wax and to draw with it while it is hot, Daniel makes his own tools from acetate. He folds a piece of acetate into a cone formation into which he pours the wax.

The water based wax, moves through the cone spout, when gently squeezing the pliable acetate, in an even flow enabling fine lines to be drawn. The wax can be clear (as it appears when purchased) or it can have coloured pigments added to it. When he stops squeezing the cone the wax moves back up the cone and therefore does not drip onto the silk.

This method is actually using the wax in place of gutta. The liquid pigment paints are then applied, producing vibrant, exciting and exotic results which give an added feeling of strength and grandeur to the work of art.

Daniel has also experimented with watery pigment on a wet silk surface. He gets some amazing shimmering effects using this technique (see image above).

Gabogrecan’s Hints and Tips

If you decide to use paint rather than dyes, make sure that you use different brushes and containers. Do not mix them up with tools used for dyes.


Danielle describes how he makes the acetate cone and uses it to draw, using wax which he has coloured black, using a pigment. You can then enjoy watching him apply the brilliant colour. Note that it does not run and move as dye would and therefore is easier to control.

These videos are used under the You Tube Public Licence agreement

31 thoughts on “Using Paint Rather Than Dyes on Silk

    1. Peter Post author

      I agree – I do not know why it fell of the popularity list. In Australia it is very difficult to get hold of materials now, whereas 20 years ago there were lots of suppliers.

  1. Debbie Boulier

    I don’t know the first thing about painting except maybe painting a wall. But no do not mix your colors and brushes used for different types of paintings like dyes and paint. What a huge mess that would be plus cleaning them would be really difficult.

  2. james

    I started really getting into painting last year and made he mistake of using the brushes that had been used for my dyes do some painting. That was a costly mistake and one that I”l never make again

  3. Chuck Garrett

    I’m not very involved with arts and craft as my wife usually imposes her work on our home. Ok by me! I’m not sure if she’s aware of this technique but it’s very interesting indeed. At the very least, I tried to help her right? 🙂

  4. Austin

    Great tips. I have recently been look to get into some more painting, so this definitely helped me in a big way.

  5. Mona

    I love both of these techniques. But you are absolutely right about not mixing – it’s terrible for the brushes. Indeed, proper brush care is vital – if you want the best results, and if you want your paint supplies budget to last!

  6. Ana B.

    It looks lovely. I’ve never thought to use paints instead of dyes for silk but now I see that the results can be extraordinary as shown in the video. I’ll be sure to use different brushes and containers when I try this out.

  7. karen

    I have never tried dying silks before as I was so sure I would ruin it. This idea gives me the confidence to try this new technique.

  8. Joe Dawson

    I don’t paint myself but I was looking up some different techniques for my daughter to try and I will definitely refer her here to get some helpful tips!

  9. Asok Awa

    I am very small and a little boy to this painting work but with this information i am really interested to do the job.

  10. Ann Conger

    Well I am not in any way artistic but I love to admire the beauty and techniques that different artist use. And your wax on silk is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing your work.

    1. Peter Post author

      You are right Anne – it is amazing to see just how using the wax can work – I actually use a liquid rubber called Gutta. Barb

  11. David Barker

    This looks really great infact I am in need of a hobbie at the moment and I think i might take this up. Thank-you for sharing this

  12. Jpols

    Trying to save a few dollars, reducing clutter or just being lazy… by using the same brushes for paints and dyes is done all too often. But will always be a mistake.

  13. Kayla R.

    Woah, now this is a helpful article!
    I had just started on a silk blouse for my mother, and it’s a good thing I didn’t go too far just yet. Using paint seems like a less painless way to decorate silk. Totally trying it.

  14. samuel baek

    Great way to keep your equipment in working order. These are obvious helpful tips that everyone should be following!

    1. Peter Post author

      Sorry for taking so long to respond. I have been in hospital with pneumonia and it took the wind out of my sales for some time and I did not get back to my computer. I appreciate your comment and agree. Here, in Australia we tend to refer to all work done on silk, as ‘silk painting’ whether it is dyes or paint being used. I, myself, have only ever used dyes, whether I do framed work or clothing (mainly scarves).


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