'To paint on silk, the iron-fix colours are mixed in a palette, used neat or diluted with water,' says Tessa Spanton.

'They can be painted onto wet or dry silk, and blended or softened off as you would with watercolour. The main difference is that colours spread on dry silk and one way of keeping them in place is with a gutta resist line.

'For the resist method demonstration (see below), paint the red leaf bracts straight onto dry silk. As you touch your brush to the silk, the colour will flow into the material. In this way, you don’t need to paint right up to the gold lines, as the paint will spread there. If you use too much paint, it may spill over the line into the next shape. If it does, use a clean damp brush to diffuse it before it dries.

'When you’re happy with the washes, mark in delicate veins using silk paint or a very thin line of gutta. To paint them, use a No. 1 (or smaller) Round brush, pick up a small amount of silk paint and hold the brush fairly upright so that you use just the tip and make the stroke quickly. If you have them, you could use Inktense pencils or marker pens instead to add this small detail. Finally, fix the colours by ironing on medium heat.'

Poinsettia card using the resist method

To make the cards

If you are using blank three-fold cards use double-sided tape or a glue stick to attach your work to the surface that folds under the aperture and more tape or glue to close this section. Before you stick it down, check that you aren’t gluing it to the area that will be written on or the card will come out back to front.

If you sew, you can remove the freezer paper and quilt the silk. Back with a layer of polyester wadding and a layer of cotton and stitch through all three layers along the gutta lines for a beautiful effect.

If you are using plain card, trim the edges of your work before you fix it to the card. If you would like frayed edges, remove the freezer paper and pull several threads from each side to make small fringes. Cover the back of the silk with a thin layer from a glue stick, leaving the fringes unglued and stick to the card.

How to make quick poinsettia-themed cards

Step one

Fold a rectangle or square of damp silk into four then fold in half again. Working on a piece of polythene, touch yellow paint to the point. Paint a half petal shape in red, beginning from the folded edges on both sides, and in the space left between add green. Turn over to check that the colour has gone through all the layers; if necessary add more colour.

Step two

Open out and lay flat to dry or use a hair dryer then iron.

Fix it to the card mount or sew beads into the centre first.

You could also indicate some leaf outlines with gutta for further embellishment.

Demonstration: the resist method

For this project the silk needs to be mounted after you’ve traced your drawing and before you apply paint on it.

At the mounting stage (see Step 3), the silk is fixed to a frame to lift it off the workspace and to prevent the paint from smudging.

If you already have a frame, pin the silk to it. If not, improvise by stretching the silk over a container from food packaging or a jam jar. Fix with pieces of masking tape or a rubber band.

Freezer paper can be used as a support instead. Place the freezer paper waxy side up, lay the silk on top and dry iron for a few moments on medium heat until the two have stuck together.

Test a corner first if you are not sure which side to use. It tends to curl up so, when you work on it, secure it to your workspace with a small piece of masking tape at each corner.

I prefer to work on a frame but, for cards, freezer paper is convenient and easier to attach to a card as you can leave the paper on the silk as a backing.

If you work on a frame, back the silk with freezer paper after you have finished. It’s fine for cards, but it’s not acid-free so for larger paintings I mount the silk on acid-free mountboard.

The drawing