First I trace the image onto the back of freezer paper (the un-waxed side) I make sure I reverse the image when I do this, so it will come out the right way when I iron it onto the silk.
After I’ve ironed the freezer paper on, I trace the image onto the silk with resist. This stops the dye from flowing from one section to another. I like to use a paintbrush for this, most folks use a special applicator bottle, but I find the brush works nicely and doesn’t glob like a bottle does. When the resist has dryed, I remove the freezer paper and
hold the silk up to the light to make sure there are no gaps in the lines. If there are any obvious gaps, I touch them up. Then I paint the whole image with plain water to be sure I haven’t missed a spot. If any bleeding shows through, I touch up again with resist. Lather, rinse, repeat until all gaps are thoroughly sealed. This may seem time consuming, but it saves a world of headache in the long run.
Then I filled in the figures with clear, water soluble resist so I could paint the background without fear of messing interfering with the colors later. I then painted in the background freely using logs of salt and splattering. It was very messy and loose and fun. I used silk paints (rather than dye) for this project.
When the background was thoroughly dried and cured, I washed the silk with synthrapol (to prevent back dyeing), ironed it dry and filled in the figures. This was a much more controlled process, a bit like coloring in a coloring book. Again, once the paint was dry I ironed it to cure it then washed again. When all the components of the tallis are complete, I then sew the corners and atarah on, make an eyelet hole on each corner and then tye the tsitisit.
With most of my commissioned works, I like to make two. This allows my customer to be happy and takes the pressure off me as far as trying to be a mind reader and guess what the customer is envisioning. The customer gets their choice between the two, and the second goes for sale in my shop.
The first has a dark blue atarah and corners which contrast nicely with the background. The customer ultimately picked this one.
The second has a lighter atarah and corners that blend in with the background. This one sold about a month later.