Exquisite Practices: Hair Revelations, Week 4

Rainy day project: hand painted head wrap…

Remember back in Hair Revelations, Week 1 when it was sunny and hot, and we were wrapping our coconut oil-drenched hair in beautiful scarves? That was nice. It reminded me how much I love making textiles, and what better way to spend a rainy weekend day than to make something to be used on those beautiful beach days? Today I’ll be presenting my favorite way to get a hand-painted look on a scarf: monoprinting. This is a silk screen technique, but if you’re not familiar with silkscreening, not to worry. I will also show how to paint directly onto your scarf with dyes.



2 yd length cotton or silk fabric (synthetics don’t accept dyes as well and will likely wash out)

Dyes in your choice of colors (RIT works great, I usually use the MX powdered dyes)

Powdered soda ash (usually found at art stores that carry dyes, but my favorite online shop is Dharma Trading Company)

A large pot

A few different sized paintbrushes

Small dishes or cups to mix dyes in

A screen, squeegee, and clear silk screening medium if silk screening


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First thing’s first: soak your fabric for 20-30 minutes in a large pot of water with ¼ cup soda ash. The soda ash helps the fabric accept the dye so don’t skip this step! Allow your fabric to dry.

Lay your fabric out on a clean surface. I put white paper down on my table since the dye soaks through the fabric. Wearing gloves, pour your dyes into cups and mix with a small amount (about 1 tbsp) of water if they are powdered. If you use liquid dyes, don’t dilute them unless you want a softer color. It’s important for your dyes to be nice and strong like watercolor paint!

On a different surface, place your screen screen-side-up and use your dyes to paint an image onto your screen. Allow the dye to dry, and then flip it over and place it where you want it on your scarf. Print the screen using the clear silkscreen medium (4 passes with the squeegee should do it) — this will transfer your image from the screen to your scarf, and voilà! You’ve got a beautiful watercolor painting on your scarf.

Rinse your screen and squeegee well, and allow to dry. Since your scarf will likely be quite large in comparison to your screen, you can do this same process over again either with the same image or different ones, creating an all-over print for your head wrap.

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You can also paint directly onto the fabric with paintbrushes as I did in the image below. This technique works best on silk fabrics since they are a bit smoother and finer than cotton, making an easier painting surface. With either technique, you will achieve a lovely watercolor look on your fabrics.

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Once your fabric is dry, you can iron it or put it through the dryer to heat-set the dye, then rinse it out in the sink. The silk screen medium should come out of your fabric, leaving just the painted image and a soft hand feel. Let me know how it goes in the comments below and check out my previous hair revelations posts for excellent hair care tips (and great ways to use your unique hand painted head wrap!) Keep creating! See you next week!

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