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Hand Painted Scarves – Literally Works of Art

Updated on August 24, 2015

When we purchase a product, we pay little attention to how it was produced.

Unless we read the label or ask questions, we know very little about the process behind it. That is true whether we buy mass-manufactured or hand crafted items.

If you want to discover the effort, the skill and the creativity behind a product, take time to consider the creation of a hand painted scarf.

In doing so, you will discover that each one is truly a hand-painted wearable masterpiece.

The Process

It all begins with the design. The source of inspiration for this may be the natural environment, abstract art, geometric shapes or a different perspective of the world in which we live. Culture can also help to shape it. The colors and patterns then ebb into the flow of the design work, changing and/or elaborating with each new discovery of what color can create a new effect and a unique work of art.

Upon formulating the basic idea, the artist will then sketch it. This provides a basic idea of what the scarf will look like. This is followed by manually transferring the design onto the appropriate size of silk. Care is taken during the process to prepare the silk for the design. The process of preparing the canvass is simple but time consuming.

  • The silk hemmed is stretched tightly to prevent wrinkles and other possible flaws
  • Silk tacks keep the piece of fabric secure on the frame
  • The artist then tightens or loosens them to ensure the tension remains constant
  • The artist may hem the silk prior to stretching or to conclude the entire process

After the silk is ready to receive the design, the artist uses cold wax or a similar product to draw the outline of the pattern. The choice of material is to prevent the dye from leaching into any other section. It acts as a obstacle where the artist chooses to draw. In other words, the wax plays the role of a protective barrier between each block of color no matter whether it is a large block on the edges or a delicate smudge in the interior.

The process of transferring may be free hand. Alternatively, it may first appear drawn as a template on a piece of paper. For this, the artist employs a black marker. He or she will then place this beneath the silk. It then aids him or her in applying the exact design.

Before anything further can occur, the wax must dry. The artist then proceeds to apply the dyes using a fine paintbrush. He or she works between the lines to build up the correct design. The paint flows swiftly towards the wax borders, but cannot escape. The artist must painstakingly paint each section of the design marked out. After the areas are painted, the artist then colors in the background.

The silk is then left to dry. Once this has happened, the full length of silk is taken off of the frame cautiously before being enfolded in cotton. After this, the silk is whisked away to a special steamer where it is left for a period of more than a few hours. The steam acts to remove the wax and set the colors strong. Any excess dye comes off afterwards in an initial wash. The remaining colors are truly colorfast for life.

As you can see, so much goes into the process of turning a length of silk scarf into a beautiful, unique object. It makes you think of the major differences between a hand-dyed scarf and a mechanically process one. Next time, consider the care, attention to detail and skilled craftsmanship that goes into handmade items. When next you plan to purchase something for yourself or for someone else, is there really any other choice?

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by Julie-Ann Amos, professional writer, and owner of international writing agency

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This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to CreativeCommons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California94105, USA.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Very kind of you to introduce the work of handpainting silk scarves in details. A wonderful art.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 

      8 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Never realised the amount of effort and artistic talent needed to produce the beautiful scarves I posses. I shall look at them in a different light now. Thanks.

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 

      8 years ago from Washington

      Very beautifully done! Love the scarves and what a terrific talent.


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