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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How Violetta Made Your Pocket Square Art

Painting on silk was very popular back in the early 1990's I was once told. At one point it was apparently as popular as those studios where you painted on pre-fabricated plaster. I can recall that as a kid that was a lot of fun. In fact, if I am not mistaken, in one of the bathrooms of my parents house there still exists mounted on the wall a miniature toilet which was painted by my mother. On it reads 'If you sprinkle when you tinkle be a sweetie and wipe the seatie'. That's quintessentially Australian really, to just change seat to seatie if you find your poem doesn't rhyme. By some extrapolation one can therefore estimate why most people get an 'O' on the end of their name in this country. Most likely an early Australian author started out penning a poem called 'Oh no John' but realised it would be much easier if he just changed the spelling of his mate's name and it became 'Oh no Johnno'. But I digress again!

Silk painting evidently died out. Why I don't know. But any treatment to do with silk in this country is, to my knowledge, a cottage industry and often if you do find someone doing it it will carry with it that tie-dye look and have some sort of sea creature on it and you will most likely find it in some coastal sea-village town where the artist is a hippy who gave up on city life after they decided that they wanted a more spiritual journey. Even then, these types usually prefer to paint on a fabric that never hurt any living creature, so hemp and bamboo is usually their material of choice. Again I digress!

Begin 2014. Begin Violetta Kurbanova. I found her art on Facebook after she was referenced by Daniel Jean-Baptiste who is revered by almost everyone in the silk painting world and whom has been interviewed on this blog. Click here.

Violetta has been working on some hand-painted pocket squares for us. Using silk twill we cut her a blank canvas from which she then goes to work on creating a unique piece of art which we then sell as a one off from our website. Given the amount of work that goes into one pocket square she runs these squares at a loss but for her it is about educating people about the process by which they can paint on silk, something which she teaches in her spare time. Silk painting is a very unique art. As I have stated once before, it takes patience, it takes practice and it takes experience to really master the way in which the paints flow and the parameters within which you can work. For example, the moisture content in the room will effect the flow of paint, the gutta lines must be sealed or else they will leak paint and destroy the entire piece of artwork if there is one break in the lines. The paint must be dried in the right conditions. The paint must be fixed in the right conditions. At every juncture of this art form there are inherent problems which can ruin your entire piece. I know this by experience which is why I am so respectful of the work that she does. In a nutshell, here is how it works: 

1. The setting out usually requires the artist to sit down and draw the painting on tracing paper or white paper from which the silk is then placed over and drawing begins. 
2. The silk then needs to be stretched out across a frame in order to paint the silk. The black gutta lines surrounding all the figures form barriers in which the paints are contained from spreading any further. 

3. The silk paints or dyes are applied by mixing and then spreading the paints with a variety of instruments from brushes to sponges and rock salts.

The final results, some of which can take days and weeks to finish, when they work, can be astoundingly bright and beautiful works of art which refract light differently to any traditional forms of canvas cloth. This is an example of one of Violetta's better works. 

Watch Violetta work her brush on a blank piece of silk below. If you are interested in taking up silk lessons, see Violetta's website here: Violetta Kurbanova - If you would like to buy one of the hand-rolled stitched pocket squares that she hand-painted, log onto Le Noeud Papillon.

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