The silky way

ELY Cathedral s Stained Glass Museum is to hold a silk painting workshop. A one-day course for beginners will be run for eight students by local artist Liz Brandon. Mrs Brandon said: I became interested in silk painting about seven years ago when I saw

ELY Cathedral's Stained Glass Museum is to hold a silk painting workshop.

A one-day course for beginners will be run for eight students by local artist Liz Brandon.

Mrs Brandon said: "I became interested in silk painting about seven years ago when I saw a demonstration at Heffers book shop, in Cambridge. I found it to be absolutely fascinating and have never looked back."

After attending a course run by local professional fabric artist Jane Frost, Mrs Brandon started designing, producing and selling scarves, ties, cushion covers, handkerchiefs and cards.


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She said: "I was in Ely Cathedral one day and the sunlight shone through a stained glass window and created a beautiful pattern on the floor, I was immediately drawn to it. I decided to re-create this effect and it worked really well."

Mrs Brandon is largely self-taught and exhibited at the Fenland Fringe exhibition, in Haddenham Galleries, last summer, and ran a workshop as part of the national Grand Draw event.

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On the course, students will learn about the basic equipment and materials and then go on to undertake a landscape project, a sea project, using salt for special effects, learn to draw flowers with clear and metallic gutta, and then attempt to make a basic silk-stained glass window.

Mrs Brandon said: "This is something that anyone can enjoy. It doesn't matter if you can't draw or paint - silk painting is creative in your own style and personality.

"I didn't go to art college and I've done well at it, so I believe that anyone can."

INFO: The workshop will be on Saturday, February 17, from 10am-4pm. The cost including materials, equipment and tuition is £70 for two people. For more information, tel: 01353 660347.

Factfile

- Wax resist techniques for embellishing silk can be traced back to India in the second century AD, and to Java 200 years later where the batik industry flourished.

- Gutta resist techniques are most likely a more recent development, but probably originated in the Indonesian islands where the pallaquium trees, from which gutta-percha is derived, grow naturally.

- It's largely a mystery how silk painting found its way to Europe, but silk painters from France and Hungary believe their teachers learned the craft in France from members of the Russian Czar's family.

- During the Bolshevik Revolution, members of the Czar's family dispersed throughout Europe. Many fled to Paris, bringing with them the secrets of silk painting, and this spread across Western Europe.

- The French were particularly fond of the sensuous hand-painted silk and the 1920s turned the gutta-serti technique into a very profitable industry.

- The gutta techniques reached North America in the 1970s and eventually became a valuable asset to the surface design and textile industries as designs could be developed on silk and then printed on commercial fabric.

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