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I wondered how I was going to share this story, and I’m still not quite sure. It was towards the beginnings of the Creative Core, and I felt impressed to make a waterfall. Not just any waterfall, one out of silk – in other words, a silk painting waterfall.

Not having done any silk painting before I was somewhat edgy about how to go about this. But there it was, it had to be done. The impression did not leave me, it had to be done.

A couple of weeks later I was on a training course in Edinburgh (I’m thinking that this might have been Jan 2011), and as I looked out of the hotel bedroom window I noticed an art equipment shop on the other side of the street. One that I’d visited many times when I’d lived in Edinburgh. So I went in, during my lunch break and yes, there was silk painting equipment there. Did they sell silk? No, but there’s an Indian shop about 10 mins up the street where students buy their silk. Next day, I sped walked up the street, again in my lunch break (no skiving here!), found the shop, and bought 5 metres of student quality silk.

Once home I wondered how to go about this venture. I took the five metres of silk, and tore it down the middle, giving me two long lengths of material. How does one go about designing and decorating a waterfall? With no experience… My first thought was that if I mucked up the first length, I would have a second length I could use. I put on a worship CD and waited. Inspiration came in the form of my bedroom curtain rail and clothes pegs. I tied the silk to the curtain rail using the clothes pegs, and began to draw on the silk using the Gutta. I allowed this to dry before adding paint, not really knowing what I was doing, but experimenting with different ways and means. Painting it didn’t really take that long as the silk is so fine that the paint dries quickly. I would feed the silk over the rail, and begin on the next section, and so on. As I became more involved with the piece, I found myself trying out new methods, and I would go back to parts already painted and add more design. Swirls and bubbles, and eddies.

Hand painted silk, © ECharman
Hand painted silk, © ECharman

I could still learn a lot about silk painting as I’m not totally sure that I finished it in the correct manner – is it colour fast? Truthfully, I don’t know. But it has gone places, and been used in different ways. It was used at CLAN Women 2011, where it was hung over a balcony at the entrance to the transformation centre.  It looked a bit thin then, and I wished I used the whole width, instead of tearing it in half lengthways. It morphed at Belladrum where I tied it to a fishing pole and used it as a banner, and walked around the Heilin Fields praying as I went. It’s been used at Blue Flame Furnace events, as a waterfall but changing into a river. It’s been used together with another piece of my creativity and symbolised the river over which the tree of life spans.