Tutorial: Silk Painting Techniques with Salt

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The salt effect never ceases to amaze my students when we try it on one of my silk painting courses!

It's quite a simple technique but makes a fantastic effect and can be used in many ways. It's not always reproducible or easy to determine exactly how it will come out, which is part of its charm.

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Salt you can use:

You can use any salt! I have tried the following:

  • Official branded "effect salt". This is great, but is just salt!
  • Table salt (chip salt). This is great for small areas and fine grained patterns
  • Rock salt (bigger chunks). This is great for more dramatic patterns and larger areas
  • Himalayan pink salt (huge). This can be used for a focal point, or can be grated for a more fine grained pattern
  • Dishwasher salt (balls). I don't recommend this because they roll everywhere!
  • Maldon sea salt crystals (flat squares). This is interesting to look at, but the price isn't really worth it as it doesn't do anything particularly special and I don't think it gives a very even effect.

You can also use salt solution, but I'll talk about that in another post!

Tips to get a good effect:

  • To get a good reaction, make sure your salt is nice and dry. I have been known to pop my salt container on the radiator in winter!
  • Don't use too much water, as the salt pulls lots of the dye particles out of the silk and deposits them under the grains so you can end up with a really wishywashy effect.
  • Wait till your salt is fully dry before brushing off, or you can smudge the pattern.
  • You can re-use your larger salt crystals on other projects, but be aware that some of the colour may remain and can stain future projects.

I find that salt gives more dramatic effects with ironfix paints than with steamfix dyes.

Projects you could try with salt:

  • Seaside scenes
  • Patterns on brickwork
  • Fur or feather shading
  • Flower centres
  • Trees and landscapes to add texture
  • Funky backgrounds

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Have fun, and please do check out my silk painting courses!

Jane :)


Have you done silk painting and used salt? Post your pictures and comments here - I'd love to see them!

You can also join the Guild of Silk Painters at, or join their Facebook Group here.


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