Lesson Plan: Fish Themed Silk Painting

Fish Themed Silk Painting

Submitted by: Denise Pannell, Defiance Ohio
UNIT: Fiber Arts - Science Integration
Project: Silk Painting
Grade Level: Fifth Grade (Adaptable middle school through high school)


From Judy: There are plenty of resources available at your libraries to get pictures of fish (some of you may even be close to an aquarium - your best source) - plus there is a magazine for tropical fish that has beautiful pictures. I liked using real fish with my students (did many units with 7th grade). There aren't as many pictures online as I would hope. Tropical fish can be found on many commercial sites.



Silk stretched hoops. (purchased either in a kit, or as a class pack- Nasco has a class pack of 30 hoops for $37.50), silk dyes. (we used Jacquard), Bamboo Brush Set., Waterbased Resist. (Gutta. is toxic, but commercial resists are non-toxic, We used gold, silver, clear, and black), Resist Squeeze Bottle with Tips., straight pins (we put them in the tips of the resist bottles to keep them from drying out), Silk Salt. (All of the above were bought in a kit. Additional dye colors can be purchased), white Drawing Paper., Drawing Pencils., Prismacolor Colored Pencils., cardboard circle pattern the size of the hoops, Light Box., White Glue., Scissors., colored Drawing Paper. for mounting drawing, photos of fish & sea life (or whatever theme you choose. I have seen beautiful floral designs a la Georgia O'Keeffe).


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1. Using reference materials, students sketch an underwater scene. Emphasis should be on the fish, with surroundings to include any of the following: sand, seaweed, shells, corals, and a "current" (wavy lines behind the fish to suggest sunrays or change of color in the water.


2.Trace the circular template the size of the silk hoop on to a piece of white drawing paper. Using the light box, the students trace their sketch in to the circle using pencil, Save the sketches, as they will be used later.


3. The circular drawing will be colored using Prismacolor pencils employing the proper methods (layering of color, etc.) The drawing may be set aside & worked on while the resist on the hoops dry.


4. Place the silk hoop over the sketch (NOT THE FINAL DRAWING or they may be ruined) and use the bottles of resist to trace the underwater scene on to the silk. Be sure that the resist goes through the silk to the back and that all lines are connected, so that the silk dyes will not bleed into adjacent areas.


5. Allow the resist to dry completely before painting. Work on colored pencil drawings.


6. Using the bamboo brushes, apply the silk dyes to the hoop, allowing them to bleed and blend together. (Emphasize the color wheel!)


7. Salt may be added to the water or sand to create a mottled effect. Paint a small area and immediately add the salt to that area. (The dyes dry quickly and salt will not work on dry areas).


8. The black, silver, and gold resist stays in the silk, but the clear must be washed out using hand soap and water. Gently rub the resist using fingers. It will become "slimy" and then rinse away.


9. To finish the colored pencil drawings, carefully cut out the circle, glue on to a colored paper background and then cut again, leaving a one inch border around the drawing. Display together. (A loop of ribbon may be hot glued to the back of the silk paintings. I also hung three together in a tier by gluing a scrap of ribbon between hoops.




Beginner's Guide to Silk Painting. - Covers basic techniques from applying colors to wet or dry silk to creating realistic or abstract designs. Explains the range of paints and dyes and how to use them.


Silk Painting Techniques and Ideas: Create Beautiful and Original Designs on Silk Simply and Effectively. - Everything you need to know about starting out and trying it on your own is here, including detailed instructions and suggestions for materials; various techniques and projects for both clothing and home decor; and additional ideas and concepts for your own creations. The beautiful illustrations will inspire.


Silk Painting: New Ideas and Textures. - This book covers 12 silk-painting techniques in individual chapters: water, spray, salt, sugar, alcohol, wax, gutta, anti-spread, thickener, Crayons., pens and sun. Each technique is described in detail with a list of materials, colour photographs and comprehensive instructions.



Silk Painting With Jill Kennedy. - Jill demonstrates how to work with silk and brushes and dyes to achieve dramatic and vibrant effects. Jill shows a variety of ways to set the silk paints, from stove-top rice steamers to popular steam silos now available from dealers worldwide. A must have for the silk painting enthusiast!



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