Silk Painting - Guttas & Resists

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The subject of resists can be confusing. What's a resist? What's gutta? All Guttas are resists but not all resists are true Guttas...and not all things called 'Gutta' are really truly Gutta...confused yet? To make things a little simpler, keep in mind that we carry only ONE real (solvent/rubber-based) 'Gutta' made by the Jacquard company.

Of all the products Dharma carries, guttas and water-soluble resists are the most technically difficult to use successfully. You must be aware that applying a gutta or resist successfully takes practice and experimentation with different products. It is an art form, and one shouldn't expect perfect results without practice. We suggest you buy Gutta and resists in small experimental quantities until you find the ones that work for you in your particular circumstance. Take classes, buy books, talk to other silk painters, and have fun!

Basically, a resist is anything that prevents dye from reaching the fabric; it resists the dye. There are two major categories of resists commonly used for silk painting: Guttas and Water-soluble resists.

Solvent based Gutta is a thick substance that is derived from Indonesian rubber trees (Gutta Percha). It is used almost exclusively for the French Serti Technique of painting on silk. Gutta comes in clear, black, gold metallic and silver metallic. It has a rubbery feel to it in contrast to the smooth drape of silk. Clear gutta is meant to be removed after the dye or paint has been fixed. Once the dye has been set, clear gutta is removed from the fabric by dry cleaning only. Guttas are thinned (carefully!) and cleaned up with Gutta Solvent. Guttas have roughly a 6 month shelf life which can be prolonged by storing in a cool dark place. Heat and light can make them go bad quickly. Because of their flammability, guttas can only ship by UPS ground.

The black, gold and silver guttas are used when a non-white defining line is desired. Colored guttas are meant to leave on the silk which will leave some "hand" or "feel" on the silk. They cannot be dry cleaned or the color in the gutta will be removed along with the gutta! The gold and silver Guttas are dramatically beautiful, but sometimes the metallic guttas flake off over time. If you want colored lines and the ability to dry clean, use a water-based resist!

For some people dry cleaning to remove the clear gutta is not convenient or feasible. Or the Gutta fumes give them a headache. Or they are going to be teaching a class. Clear water-based resist is removed by rinsing in warm water and is fume free. It comes out easily when used with iron-set paints, but some brands can be difficult to remove after steam-setting dyes; because of that, we recommend using iron-set silk paints with water-based resists. We are not sure, but we think long steaming times and/or hard water might account for the steaming problems a few folks have had. The manufacturers of the current water based resists that we sell have said this problem is now fixed through reformulating.

Some artists feel that clear water-based resists do not hold the line as well as gutta. It's true that with water-based resists, care must be taken to avoid flooding the line with paint which would begin to dissolve the resist line. Water-based resists work great with the iron-set silk paints (Dye-na-Flow and SetaSilk). They rinse out nicely when not steamed, do not have fumes, can ship by air, and in most cases are lower-priced than guttas.

The big plus with these metallic resists is that they can be dry cleaned. These colored resists require heat-setting with an iron before applying the silk dye or paint or before steaming. As with the colored guttas, the colored water-based resists are meant to remain on the fabric, thus creating a feel on the fabric. They can however, stand up to dry cleaning whereas true solvent Guttas cannot.

Waxes can also be used on silk for batik. See our pages on waxes and batik for product materials and techniques.

All the guttas and resists we sell have been in use by artists for years and are considered the best choice by those who like that particular brand. It's up to you to determine which one works best for you in your specific circumstances. Good luck and have fun!

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