Sacred Creation Stole: New design

Colored sketch for “Sacred Creation” stole

I’ve been commissioned to design a new stole for Joanne Engquist’s 30th anniversary of her ordination. It’s an exciting one, pulling in Pr. Joanne’s favorite animals from several places she has served, including Maine and Washington State. Exciting because it lifts up animals of God’s sacred creation, without any other symbolism. The animals in their environments, alone, are symbols of God present “in, with, and through all things”.

There is a River

“There Is a River” Silk dye on silk, 9’ x 55”, by Kristen Gilje

Commissioned by Faith Lutheran Church, Redmond, WA as a memorial to member Del Stalwick

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations”.

Rev. 22:1-2

Maybe it’s because I grew up on the Mississippi River. Maybe because of all the canoe trips on Midwest rivers and the Minnesota Boundary Waters. And surely because of living in the North Cascades next to rushing and tempermental mountain streams with their many waterfalls, feeding the great Lake Chelan….Moving water has figured prominently in my paintings as a life-giving and holy image.

Many biblical texts draw from river imagery and provide inspirations for this silk painting. One is from Psalm 46:4 “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the most high” . Furthering the image of the sacred river is the beautiful text from Revelation 22:1-2 of the river of the water of life flowing from the thrown of God. In this text a sacred river runs through the city and nourishes the tree of life, which in turn provides sustenance for all.  Both these texts provide a great image of hope, strengthening my faith that God is indeed present and active in the world.  I imagine God’s presence like a river actively coursing through our lives, and through the life of all history and of all creation.

Another source of inspiration for “There is a River” is the stained-glass work by Mark Gulsrud that graces the windows at Faith Lutheran in Redmond, where the banner hangs today. .Mark has often used the image of a dove in his work. As part of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is sometimes pictured as a dove, as it is here in this painting, and its presence often shakes things up.  An octogenarian friend of mine used to pass the peace by saying “May the Spirit of God disturb you” which always shook me up a bit, as was her intention. The colorful ribbons and streamers coming from its wings represent the shock waves and disturbances the Holy Spirit causes as it enlivens the will of God in the world.

If you look carefully you will see a golden line lyrically coming forth from the mouth of the dove. This is the bird’s joyous song as it remakes the world in the way God intends and reminds us to be joyful in our faith. I hope also, that as a memorial to Del Stalwick, it will bring to mind Del’s love of music. I hope this banner brings joy and depth to worship at Faith Lutheran for many years. 

St. Francis Stole

St. Francis Stole 2

Commissioned to celebrate her 25th Ordination Anniversary, Pastor Mary’s husband ordered a stole to be designed and made incorporating the Prayer of St. Francis, one of  Mary’s favorite prayers. The prayer is wound through the design in gold, amongst a visual celebration of animals, insects and plants, and of course St. Francis. This design has turned out to be one of my favorites.

And since my commission schedule was full, we first sent her a framed sketch of the stole to come:

St. Francis Stole design sketch, colored pencil on paper

Northwest Green Season Stole

2019 Jennifer’s Northwest Stole, Silk dye on silk

Just finished painting this silk stole top for a pastor in British Columbia, Canada. It’s an older design of mine, the Northwest Green Season Stole, but I get to refine each time I make a new one. I do like this version. Still to do: steam, wash, cut, hand-sew. Fun part is over!

Books that influence my work



I had fun using the book cover graphics as guides to record some of my favorite theological explorations over the past several years onto a silk scarf. 

Whole scarf

By no means an exclusive list, they include

Mystical-HopeThe Unbearable Wholeness of Being, Ilia Delio; Mystical Hope, Cynthia Bourgeault;  The Divine Dance, Richard Rohr;  

Teilhard to OmegaThe Holy Trinity and the Law of Three, Cynthia Bourgeault; Super, Natural Christians, Sallie McFague, From Teinhard to Omega, ed. Ilia Delio;

Making all things new

The Divine Milieu, and Hymn of the Universe, both by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; Making All Things New, Ilio Delia. 

Some of these books I’ve read and re-read, underlined, defaced with comments and notes, and tabbed. Others have influenced me by osmosis: being around people who immersed themselves and consequently me in these authors’ thoughts. The latter include Sally McFague and Cynthia Bourgeault, whose books are on my reading list. 

Easter Glory

Two new Easter silk paintings for Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Kennewick WA! 

They are each 58″ x 32″ , silk dye on silk, ©Kristen Gilje 2018



Kennewick Christmas Addendum

Kennewick Christmas
Christmas Manger alter parament, silk dye on silk, 33″ x 22.

Now  all the pieces in the 13-piece set Kennewick Christmas are finished. It took me a lot longer to sew each piece, some by hand, than I thought it would!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Syrian refugees as paint this set, and how, to a refugee in a stranger’s land, any space that is warm and dry can seem fit for a king. Even a manger meant for a place to hold food for farm animals is desirable if it’s the best place available. And that was the best place Mary could find to set her King of Kings, the baby Jesus, the night he was born. 

Joseph and Mary must have been worried, anxious, tired and dirty from their travels and from the emotionally exhausting process of bringing a baby into the world. Yet I’ve depicted them both as shining with halos, basking in the sacred Light of God.

Kennewick Christmas

I Iwonder if you and I can see the sacred Light of God reflected from the homeless strangers we encounter in our daily lives today?

It was fun to work with the idea of light shining onto the manger, and illuminating the straw. And to carry the theme of sacred golden light throughout the banners and paraments. And  to depict the Light of God shining on all of us through the halos on the stoles.

I thought I’d get a few pictures of how the stoles look when worn. Unfortunately the only model available was me. So here they are:

Kennewick Christmas Deacon’s stole

Kennewick Christmas Pastor’s stole


Kennewick Christmas
Kennewick Christmas Scapular










Kennewick Christmas

Getting Ready for Christmas


I’ve been working on a commission for  Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Kennewick WA. It is a set of banners, paraments and stoles to celebrate the Christmas Season. The colors of the season are gold and white…I chose to use varying golds from darker to almost white, to represent light streaming down from the Star of David onto the Christ Child, Mary and Joseph.

Here you will see pictures of the finished paintings on silk. The fabric to decorate the font and the lectern have not been cut and hemmed yet, but they’re on their way.

First the stoles:

Pastor’s Stole

Deacon’s Stole





Detail of Scapular

Following are two wall banners, to be placed at either side of the altar:

Kennewick-Christmas--6    Kennewick-Christmas--7

And two longer narrow banners to hang from the rafters, symbolizing the light of God within the sanctuary:

Kennewick-Christmas--10       Kennewick-Christmas--11


Material for the Lectern parament and Baptismal Font paraments, yet to be cut and hemmed:




The focal piece of the whole set is a simple manger upon which the golden Light of God is shining. I am unhappy with how this painting turned out and am in the process of re-painting it. I will add it to this post when it is finished.

Here are some other photos to give you a sense of the set and of them being created in my studio.



I am grateful and honored to have been asked to design and make these banners, paraments and stoles for Lord of Life. Thank you so much for the opportunity. I will do more writing on this post when I am finished with the whole project, so stay tuned until I finish all the sewing involved!