Crafts Ideas for Kids: How To Make Silk Painted Suncatchers
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!
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.
- silk scarf
- hoop stretcher
- fabric pencil
- squeeze bottle with metal tip
- Dye-na-Flow silk dyes
- round tip paintbrushes in a couple different sizes
- 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.
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!
Here Are the Rest of the Supplies You Will Need
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.