Metallic ink for thin silk?
  • I am looking for the right ink to use for thin silk fabrics. Something not stiff. I can screen print or I can paint on fabric so ink or paint is also fine. I am especially interested in metallics like gold and silver. Any info is appreciated!
  • The screen printing ink in metallic gold seems to be what I need. Does anyone know if I can paint with a brush on China silk?

    I've used Lumiere metallic pewter on the same silk and it left a dark border around the design. Does anyone know if the screen printing ink would do the same?

  • Based on what I've read about inks, paints, and their use of different types of paper, I'm guessing that what you're up against is particle size. The particles used in dyes are ultra-small, I think even down to the nanometer scale; ink particles are slightly larger; and the pigment particles used in paints are larger still. Compared to all of those, though, the particles used in metallics are gigantic, which is why shaking the bottle, if the medium is fluid enough, makes a shimmering effect. If my memory is working ;) , the reason for them being so large has something to with the different properties of the metallic bits as opposed to the colors used in dyes, inks, and paints, because the look of metallics depends upon how much light they reflect, and if they are below a certain size, they scatter more light than they reflect, and just look dark.

    Anyway, since the metallic particles are large, what happens when metallic paints in a more-fluid carrier medium are applied to a finely-textured material, is that the material "wicks away" the carrier medium that's used to suspend the particles and make then adhere to the material or paper or other substrate. Any particles that are super-fine also get wicked away, but since those particles are too small, they just look gray. It seems like it would work the same on silk as it works on papers made from various natural fibers, and maybe more so, since the silk is woven. On paper, any carrier medium that is too fluid will do that; and any medium thick enough to not wick away will be stiff if painted or printed on in patches.

    Again, extending ideas from paper to silk, I'm thinking that the only way you'll be able to get the metallic effect you want would be to use the thicker carrier medium that won't wick away so easily, *and* to apply it in very tiny "dots" so that the fabric can still flex in-between the dots. Or else you *might* be able to use some cross between dots, "dry-brushing", and "pouncing" (I think that's what the stenciling technique is called...) Air-brushing might not work because the medium has to be fluid enough (meaning, wickable...) to be sprayed through the airbrush, but it *might* work out if you used a stencil, and did repeated passes with only the very lightest possible "misting" - but that is only a totally-wild guess, since I've never really used an airbrush...

    Best of luck with it!