silk painting

Making Custom Silk Flowers for Millinery

silk paintingI have spent many hours driving myself *crazy* in the search for beautiful silk flowers to use in my fascinators, hair accessories and clothing projects. Most items available are cheap nasty things using outdated designs and colours that would look better in the garden anywhere near your dress, never mind on it. What happens when you do find something lovely, the supplier turns out to be unresponsive or difficult to order from.

Ever heard of the saying ‘if you want something doing properly then do it yourself’? Well that’s exactly what I ended up doing! I spent a creative 2 days learning the basics of old traditional silk flower making with professional milliner Irene van Vught recently.

silk frame making

Making a frame to stretch silk organza on, ready for painting

I didn’t waste any time at all and the very next day after Irene’s workshop I was sitting on the kitchen floor sawing bits of wood and gluing them together to make a frame for stretching silk fabric over, ready for painting. I set to work painting fabrics while waiting for my silk flower making irons to arrive (don’t they look like some kind of ancient dental tools)

silk flower irons

Silk flower irons

I started acquiring this new skill for two very lovely customers who had existing dresses that they wanted colour-matched fascinators for. I searched high and low and could find neither colour-matched fabric nor colour-matched silk flowers. After a quick chat with my sister-in-law, artist Tineke Bosselar (see her ink paintings), I was set on the right track when looking for paints to use for the plain white silks I’d just received from Hong Kong. She even lent me a silver/gray ink which I used to paint colour-matching flowers for one of the customer dresss (see 3rd photo above).

This whole learning experience has been amazing. It also made me think a lot about my great grandfather who I never met: Chien Yong, who migrated from China to Liverpool, England at the beginning of the 1900’s. He was a very talented artist and painted many beautiful traditional Chinese scenes onto silk. It’s nice to be kind of following his footsteps after all these years.



NinaMaking Custom Silk Flowers for Millinery