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While many of us have dipped our hands in hippie-inspired tie-dyeing or tried staining with tea bags in the bath tub (or even created the accidental work of art from a red sock in the wash), most of us haven’t had the sensual pleasure of painting on silk. The First World Silk Painting Congress descends on DC area this weekend, bringing an international array of colorful, enthusiastic, self-proclaimed silk painting addicts to share the experience and their work. You’ve likely seen painted silk (a detail from a kimono by Jan Janas is pictured), on a necktie or a stroll through Takoma Park—the brightly colored art-to-wear is favored by the denizens of that nuclear-free zone. This conference aims to expose the array of techniques and styles inherent in using silk as a medium. Unlike a conventional canvas, white silk provides a viable, ever-changing tactile experience that challenges the painter to respond to the spontaneity of the fabric with quick innovative artistic energy. Although detailed and rich images can be rendered on silk, the randomness and uncertainty of bleeding liquid dye often yields a serendipitous result. The shimmering quality of the fabric adds a dimension of floating, breezy movement, and the translucency of the material gives a luminescence an opaque canvas can’t express. The Congress includes an art show and sale, lectures, demonstrations, a suppliers expo (opening Friday), and a fashion show. Expo and sale open 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. & 4-7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15; and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16 (call for times and prices of classes and special events) at George Mason University, Fairfax. $5. (301) 474-7347. (Liz Eckstein)