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Crafts Ideas for Kids: How To Make Silk Painted Suncatchers

Updated on November 19, 2012

Painting With Kids is So Fun!

My daughter and I had a lot of fun creating a hand-painted silk sun catcher, so I thought I would share the experience with you! This is a great arts and craft project to create with kids aged 4 and up, and it provides a lot of learning opportunities for the kiddos at the same time.

The age of your child will determine how much prep work you will need to do... the younger the child, the more time you will need to spend preparing the silk for dye application. If your child is older, then they can get much more involved in the process... mixing the colors, drawing the design, and applying the resist. My daughter is only 3 1/3, so I planned ahead and prepared the silk the day before we painted it together.

Whatever the age of the child, you are sure to have a great time getting creative together!

All photos, with the exception of Amazon product images, were taken by the author. I also did not take this intro photo, since I am in it. My wonderful husband took it for me, but he doesn't want any credit for it!

© Elizabeth Gosney 2012

Here's a quick look at the ingredients and instructions you need to create this unique arts and craft project for kids. I will go into more detail and provide more ideas later in the page.

Prep time: 30 min
Cook time: 30 min
Ready in: 1 hour
Yields: up a lot of fun and creativity


  • silk scarf
  • hoop stretcher
  • fabric pencil
  • resist
  • squeeze bottle with metal tip
  • Dye-na-Flow silk dyes
  • round tip paintbrushes in a couple different sizes


  1. Stretch the silk on the hoop and secure tightly. Draw your design onto the silk with a fabric pencil and then trace the design with resist, using the squeeze bottle, and allow the resist to dry completely. Pre-mix your dyes, if desired, and have all the colors you plan to use readily available. Apply the dye with the resist lines as desired and allow dye to dry overnight. Using a cloth as a barrier, iron the silk to heat set the dye (if using a dye other than Dye-na-Flow, follow the instructions given by the dye manufacturer to set the color). Remove the resist by washing the silk in warm water using a mild soap. Place the silk back on the hoop stretcher, trim any excess fabric and hang in a window to enjoy.
Cast your vote for How To Crafts for Kids Recipe

Plan Ahead...

Unless you live in a fairly large city, or have access to a great art supply store, you will probably have a hard time finding silk painting supplies in your local stores. Places like Michael's and Hobby Lobby are not going to have the supplies you will need. Not to worry, they are abundant online!

How To Make Suncatchers - Getting Started

The first step is stretching your silk taut on the hoop. Do not trim the excess fabric, we will do this in a later stage. Draw or trace the desired image on the silk with a fabric pencil by turning the hoop over and drawing on the back side of the fabric; this gives you a flat, hard surface. Coloring pages are good sources for pictures, and you can also use stencils or free hand it.

I do suggest you keep the design simple, unless you have an older child who has mastered "staying in the lines". I got a little ambitious with this image, and for my 3 1/2 year old, a simpler picture would have been much easier for her to paint.

Step 2: Apply the Resist

After your image is on the silk, it is time to apply the resist. Using a squeeze bottle with a metal tip, trace the lines, being careful to avoid gaps where the dye can escape. At this point, it is time to take a break and allow the resist to dry completely. Of course, you could always use a hair dryer to speed the process along if you don't feel like waiting.

If you have a younger child like I do, then you will need to do these first two steps for them. I got my daughter involved by asking her what she wanted to draw on our suncatcher.... she chose the sun and butterflies, and our picture progressed from there. I let her paint in her watercolor paint book while I applied the resist to the silk.

Protect Your Work Space and Clothing!

Dye is permanent! Be sure to cover your work space with plastic and wear either an apron or old clothes that you won't mind getting dye on. Wearing gloves is not a bad idea either... I spent most of my college years with dye stained fingers!

Painting with Kids - Getting ready to paint...

As you can see, I have covered the counter with a muslin cloth, under which I have laid down layers of plastic. I lined up the plastic cups and showed my daughter how to mix colors. She had fun trying to guess what color was going to be made by mixing two other colors. I also have a cup of water to wet the silk and another cup of water for rinsing the brushes.

Start With The Largest Area First - And Stick to One Color at a Time.

It's a good idea to go ahead and tackle the largest area, usually the background. It is important to work fast, so as to avoid having the paint dry, which will cause lines. You can buy yourself some time by first wetting the silk with a paintbrush and water, this keeps the dye wetter longer. Apply the dye with a light touch, you don't want to bear down too hard causing the silk to stretch and touch the surface underneath, and gently guide the dye with the paintbrush toward the resist lines. I let my daughter paint the large areas while I used a very fine paintbrush to get in all the small spaces.

Then, I let her sprinkle salt on the wet dye to try to get a special effect, but I think the dye was too dry by that point, because it didn't really do anything.

Jacquard Dye-Na-Flow Silk Paint - A Great Starter Set for Beginners!

Jacquard JAC9908 Dye-Na-Flow Exciter 9-Colors
Jacquard JAC9908 Dye-Na-Flow Exciter 9-Colors

These are the best dyes you can use which are heat set with an iron. These are great dyes for beginners because they do not require steam to set the color and they are concentrated, producing the most brilliant colors of all the heat set dyes.


Here Are the Rest of the Supplies You Will Need

Setasilk Water Based Gutta- Colorless 20ml Tube
Setasilk Water Based Gutta- Colorless 20ml Tube

No need for a separate squeeze bottle with tip when using this resist, as it has a fine tip.


Finish Painting All the Colors

Apply all your desired colors to the silk, one at a time. Since you must work fast, you don't have time to switch colors and rinse brushes.. so it is best to plan out your color scheme ahead of time.

A less detailed design than the one above is easier for kids to handle painting. I let my little one help me with this one, but since I wanted it to turn out nice for this web page, I gave her another blank scarf and let her go to town on it. We had a few accidents with colors dripping where they didn't belong, and one spot where the resist had a gap and allowed the colors to bleed, but no worries! It is all about having fun together and getting creative.

There Are Still a Few Steps Before Your Hand Painted Silk Suncatcher is Ready to Hang in the Window

You will want to allow the paint to dry for at least 24 hours before heat setting it. Follow the instructions provided with the dye for the method of fixing it requires; most dyes are set by ironing, but the type I used for this project called for using the dryer. (I didn't have enough time to order the proper supplies, so I had to improvise with paints meant for tye-dye. Not ideal, but it worked out ok.)

After you set the dye with heat, allow it to sit for as long as possible before washing it. I allowed mine to sit overnight, and then I washed it gently in the sink with warm water and a mild detergent (Ivory dish soap works great!), until the water ran clear. After the silk has dried, you can then stretch it onto the hoop again, trim off the excess fabric, and it is ready to hang!

I made the mistake of trimming the fabric too early in the process, not thinking about the fact that I had to remove the silk to heat set and wash it. I was difficult to get it stretched back onto the hoop and I had to get my husband to help me. So, don't make the same mistake I did.

Here it is... the finished product looking beautiful hanging in the window!

Here it is... the finished product looking beautiful hanging in the window!
Here it is... the finished product looking beautiful hanging in the window!

Questions? Comments?

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    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 4 years ago from Colorado

      Beautiful! I never thought to make a sun catcher with silk. Love it. Precious family. :-)

    • Fushi LM profile image

      Fushi LM 5 years ago

      @cocomoonbeams: That is heartening the you replied for the glowing effect at night which children will adorn an dream about. Thanks

    • publicdomain lm profile image

      publicdomain lm 5 years ago

      What a neat idea!

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @UKGhostwriter: Thanks for the pin!

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @MissionBoundCre: Thank you!

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @KimGiancaterino: Thank you and you're right... I hadn't really looked at it as a memento for her, too. I know I already go back and look at it a lot just to reminisce a little (especially if she's being difficult)!

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @Annamadagan: Thanks for the blessing!

    • MissionBoundCre profile image

      MissionBoundCre 5 years ago

      Love this craft idea and the baby girl is Beautiful!

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      Fantastic resource and pinned!

    • SoSimplyStephanie profile image

      Stephanie 5 years ago from DeFuniak Springs

      Very Cute!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Very well put together!

    • profile image

      katieross 5 years ago

      These are great ideas! Really lovely.

    • profile image

      purpleslug 5 years ago

      Wonderful idea! My granddaughter is always wanting to do some kind of art work while she is out in my studio with me. She would love doing this one. She has made quite a few glass projects.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      nice art

    • JackieBlock profile image

      Jackie Block 5 years ago from SE Michigan

      This sounds like a great rainy day project for my five year old. She may even be able to do the resist on her own if she makes a simple design. Thanks for this great tutorial!

    • profile image

      ClaireDavids 5 years ago

      looks great, and you obviously spent some interesting quality time with your daughter. thumbs up

    • Lorna Jean Aro profile image

      Lorna Jean Aro 5 years ago

      cute! I'll gonna try that even though I'm not a kid any more heheh!

    • Camden1 profile image

      Camden1 5 years ago

      What a fun idea! I'm always looking for fun things to do with the kids over the summer break - thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      erydjava 5 years ago


    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

      It's beautiful and your daughter is so cute! What a nice memento for her to keep as a reminder of a fun time with you.

    • microfarmproject profile image

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      Creative and beautiful! Thanks for posting.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 5 years ago

      This looks like so much fun. I did not know you could make a suncatcher with silk. You look as if you really enjoy doing crafts with your kids.

      Congratulations on your Purple Star an' being featured on the Front Page.

    • profile image

      Annamadagan 5 years ago

      This is such a fun craft! I made one of these a few years ago. Blessings!

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 5 years ago

      What an awesome project! Great instructions and love the design on the suncatcher :)

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      Sun catchers are fun and these are some really great craft ideas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great craft for kids! I love how you used the recipe module for a craft tutorial!

    • allenwebstarme profile image

      allenwebstarme 5 years ago

      Excellent craft work for kids, good idea.

    • CCTVwebmaster profile image

      CCTVwebmaster 5 years ago

      I really want to try to make this with my children now, excellent information!

    • alex89 lm profile image

      alex89 lm 5 years ago

      I used to do silk painting when I was a kid, and I loved it.

    • casquid profile image

      casquid 5 years ago

      This is something cute and fun to do with my Granddaughters. Thanks for being so detailed about what to be careful about. Most instructors leave that out.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love silk painting myself, its such a lovely medium to work with, ideal for suncatchers.

    • profile image

      trendydad 5 years ago

      great idea, simple and easy, nice lens

    • Fcuk Hub profile image

      Fcuk Hub 5 years ago

      These crafts ideas for kids are great for my kids too. I have just tried some :)

    • profile image

      enjoyecigs 5 years ago

      amazing idea! love this lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Pretty my little one will love this

    • thememorybooksh1 profile image

      thememorybooksh1 5 years ago

      Very beautiful Lens..

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Congratulations on receiving your purple star

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 5 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Any crafts that will get kids to enjoying expressing their artistic side is a winner in my book.

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @Fushi LM: Yes, absolutely! You can buy glow-in-the-dark puffy fabric paint at any craft store and use it on the silk. I would probably use it to cover the resist lines. You would need to add that as the very last step, though, after heat setting and washing the silk.

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 5 years ago from Kansas

      I've tried this myself once. I love the effect and should do more. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Fushi LM profile image

      Fushi LM 5 years ago

      Summer have arrived and to keep children occupied this one is an interesting idea specially a little girl who is dreaming and interested in arts. I love the this idea of yours "egosney".

      I would like to ask that can we use some colors that glow at night when lights were switched off it would create a great atmosphere in a child bedroom.

    • jholland profile image

      jholland 5 years ago

      I love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      cleanyoucar 5 years ago

      love the ideas here... :D

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @MJsConsignments: That's a great question, and to be honest, no there is not really an additive or anything to combat fading. A silk sun catcher is, in a way, a conundrum because silk and sunlight don't really get along that well. My suggestion is to keep it in a window that does not get a lot of direct sunlight. I don't actually hang mine in the window I had it in for the pictures. I use mine in a window that does not get a lot of sunlight, therefore that part of my house is kind of dark, and it really seems to brighten the area up. They also look great hanging on the wall... they don't have to go in the window, and that would preserve it the longest.

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Question, do they fade after a time? I'm sure the added color stays pretty vibrant but I would think the silk itself would be susceptible to a lot of fading. Is there a way to combat that and still enjoy them for a long time?

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      Very well done, i have a good idea on how to do it now!

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @SheGetsCreative: Thanks for the Pin!

    • cocomoonbeams profile image

      cocomoonbeams 5 years ago

      @flycatcherrr: Thank you! I knew I would end up with beautiful pictures as long as she was in them!

    • AshleySears LM profile image

      AshleySears LM 5 years ago

      This is a great craft. My kids did something similar at a Renaissance Faire!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      Looks like a fun project to do, and great results. Also, I have to say your daughter is a real cutie, love that big smile!

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      What a fun craft idea! Adding to my Pinterest craft board

    • gatornic15 profile image

      gatornic15 5 years ago

      This is a neat idea. Great step by step instructions. Congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      Wow! This is really awesome! A truly excellent tutorial!

    • ItayaLightbourne profile image

      Itaya Lightbourne 5 years ago from Topeka, KS

      Oh my but it's pretty! Very well done article and Congrats on your Purple Star! Looks like a craft I might try with my grandson in the future. Will bookmark for sure. :)

    • artbyrodriguez profile image

      Beverly Rodriguez 5 years ago from Albany New York

      Very good instructions. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. Love the photos!