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Painting with Silk Thread and Needles

Silk Art is often described as "Painting with Silk", but compared to Silk Art, the process of painting is fairly simple . . . a brush, paint, and a canvas. The nature of the silk itself adds complexity to the process of creating Silk Art. In addition to the variety of stitches that need to be mastered and combined, the silk thread itself must be separated and the number of layers of stitches must be determined and applied.

The Silk Art process begins with tightly stretching a canvas over a wooden frame. The design is then roughly outlined, directly on the canvas. At that point, the artist begins stitching the most intricate parts of the pattern with tiny needles and colorful silk threads, bringing the image to life.

Each strand of silk fiber can be divided in up to 16 individual threads. 1/16 of a strand of silk thread is finer than a human hair. The thinner the thread, the finer the art work. The artist then builds layers of threads of varying colors and thicknesses to create dimension, shadows, and highlights. A small piece of Silk Art takes one artist a few days to complete, a masterpiece may take several artists a few years to bring to the final stage. This array of techniques and materials come together to create unique and multi-faceted works of art. 

  

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Step 1: Drawing the outline, freehand  (click here for video)   John Dailey tells the silk art creation process

 

 

   
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Step 2: Bringing the image to life    Step 2 - Yanqing Xu stitches

 

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1. Simple outline, drawn freehand   2. Bringing the image to life with silk   3. Framed artwork
         

 

 Silk Art Versus Paintings                                                                                                                    

Silk Art is 3 dimensional

Paint is basically liquid color; colors do not stay intact as they blend. Blue paint combined with red paint turns purple, black paint over yellow paint looks, well, like black paint. Generally, liquid color has a single layer and looks somewhat flat. Silk Art use fibers of solid silk as color. Solid silk can be stitched as multiple layers, and you can see all the individual colors through different layers. By layering color, yet keeping the individual colors intact, Silk Art creates a three dimensional affect that cannot be found in most paintings.

 

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 Silk Art is more colorful

As Silk Art uses tiny needles instead of brushes, each square inch of the work has many more individual colors and a much finer resolution. Not unlike High Definition Television versus regular TV, the added “dots per inch” create images that are much more detailed and colorful.

 

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Stitching the image in silk   Thousands of colors of silk
     

 

Silk Art colors last longer

The artists at King’s Silk Art use only silk spun naturally from our own silk worms. Less impressive types of Silk Art are made from the cheaper bamboo silk, or often man-made silk. The dye used to color our silk is also natural. Unlike chemical colors and paint, which degrade over time, naturally-dyed, pure, silk color will last indefinitely, hundreds of years, if the silk is well maintained. Many ancient Silk Art masterpieces, dating back thousands of years, can be found in museums, amazingly vivid to this day.

 

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Feeding the silk worms with mulberry leaves.    The silk worms spin silk cocoons.
     

 

Silk Art Artistry

A professional artist, who uses paint, could easily spend just a couple of years taking classes and be able to create the kind of art they choose. An amateur with talent, but no training whatsoever, can pick up a brush and create a nice painting. Millions of people know how to paint, far fewer can produce real art, but only a handful of artists in the world can create Silk Art masterpieces.

Unlike that of painters, the career of a Silk Art artist has a very formal path. Our Silk Art artists normally start training as teenagers, learning skills and techniques from their families, passed down from generation to generation. Usually it takes 10 – 20 years to become a master Silk Art artist.

Silk Art, by its nature, will always have a limited supply and will become more and more rare over time, adding to the value of each piece. But for the artistry alone, Silk Art masterpieces will always be priceless. 

 

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