Solo Show at Brandywine

I am showing my “Butterfly Collection”through July and August 2013, at Brandywine Kitchen, 1317 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA Come and see for yourself! It’s a wonderful sunny place to enjoy a gourmet sandwich or nice locally-sourced dinner, and to see some of my silk paintings.

Kristen Gilje showing her work at the Brandywine Kitchen, Bellingham, WA.

Local  butterflies are inspiration for these paintings. I love how the geometry of their wing design is echoed in the circular patterns of labyrinths and Celtic knots.I started this series of silk paintings after taking a field class in butterflies with famous Northwest butterfly expert Bob Pyle at North Cascades Institute, near Newhalem, WA.


New way of displaying my silk paintings, letting the silk fabric move.

I made three new paintings for this show, and am displaying them in a new fashion. Instead of stretching the finished silk paintings over stretcher bars, like  a canvas is stretched over a frame, I hung the paintings from a rod at the top, and one at the bottom. This enables the silk fabric to move, which is a quality I really enjoy.

© 2013 Kristen Gilje,
©2013 Kristen Gilje, “Caterpillar Patterns,” 30 x 33″. hand painted silk.


©2013 Kristen Gilje, California Sister and Friends 2, 35 x 26
©2013 Kristen Gilje, California Sister and Friends 2, 35 x 26, hand painted silk.


© 2013 Kristen Gilje,
©2013 Kristen Gilje, “Buckeye and Melissa’s Blue”, 35 x 26, hand painted silk.

Besides the silk paintings I brought a pair of framed pen and ink drawings, a framed watercolor, both with the butterfly theme, and my silk painting “Gratitude Bouquet.” All artwork in the show is for sale. You can contact me at [email protected], or purchase from the Brandywine in person.

Set of two pen and ink framed drawings, one framed watercolor, and silkk painting “Gratitude Bouquet” at the Brandywine.


Brandywine Kitchen’, 1317 Commercial Street, Bellingham, WA 98225




Solo Show: Butterfly Collection” at the Brandywine Kitchen

I’m preparing my “Butterfly Collection” body of work, all silk dye on silk, for a solo show July 1 through August 31, 2013 at Brandywine Kitchen, 1317 Commercial St., Bellingham WA . Here’s a link to their web site: Some of the butterflies have already sold, so I’m making several more. Here are the first two. Be sure to come and see them in person! Take one home!

© Kristen Gilje, California Sister and Friends 2, 28x22", hand painted silk

© Kristen Gilje, Buckeye and Melissa's Blue 2, 28x22, hand painted silk

Brandywine Kitchen
1317 Commercial Street
Bellingham, WA 98225

Monday – Thursday 11am – 10pm
Friday & Saturday 11am – 11pm
Sunday Noon – 10pm


Painted Lady II Wins Best of Show

Every year our local Allied Arts of Whatcom County  hosts a member exhibit.  I submitted one of my silk paintings from the “Metamorphosis” series: “Painted Lady II,” and it was voted “BEST OF SHOW” in our Annual Members’ Exhibit by visitors to the gallery! You can read about it in the Allied Arts Feb. Newsletter. Thanks everyone.

©2010 Kristen Gilje, Painted Lady II, 28"x22", silk dye on silk
©2010 Kristen Gilje, Painted Lady II, 28″x22″, silk dye on silk


Stained Glass Doors at Grunewald Guild

Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors from inside

I’ve always liked the idea of the Grunewald Guild as a “sanctuary for art and faith”. When designing these doors for the Guild, I used the Butterfly as a symbol of creation, of creating and re-birth, and of the Creator and all of us creatives artist-types. I used the symbol of the Celtic knot to represent community,  and how we create a safe place, or sanctuary, together. The labyrinth is a symbol of the spiritual journey we are all on, in one way or another.

Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors from inside
Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors from inside

This idea fairly presented itself to me as I was at a loss for some sort of direction for this design.  These three symbols, the butterfly, labyrinth and Celtic knot,landed on top of each other on my desk as I cleaned out a file full of used and unused symbols and sketches.  It’s one of those things that you recognize when you see it; something coming from outside yourself, something unexpected.  I used a version of this design originally for two 30-foot long banners for Plymouth Congregational Church in Seattle. You can see that project by clicking here: Plymouth Metamorphosis  .

And here is the original silk painting that these ideas grew from:

Kristen Gilje West Coast Lady Becoming II, 28x22, hand painted silk.
©Kristen Gilje, West Coast Lady Becoming II, 28×22, hand painted silk.


Kristen Gilje Glass doors make color art on entryway walls
Glass doors make color art on entryway walls

Sun shining through the glass makes the entry space joyful with color. It will be even better when the tools are put away!

Below you can see where the doors are located. A porch the height of the doors will be built this fall, with stairs on each end. This porch should make a nice place to hang out, to find summer shade and shelter from snow and rain in winter.

New Grunewald Guild Entry
New Grunewald Guild entry, under construction


Grunewald Guild Doors day
Doors from the outside looking in: Daytime


Kristen Gilje Grunewald Guild Doors from outside
Grunewald Guild Doors from outside
Kristen Gilje, Grunewald Guild doors at night
Grunewald Guild doors at night

Joe Hester and I collaborated on several stained glass projects, some of them very large. This is one of my favorites, perhaps because the project was really a gift to Grunewald Guild from Joe, before he died this year.

Joe Hester was a friend and teacher of mine for many years at the Grunewald Guild. Joe died unexpectedly this year, from a brain tumor. Before he died Joe encouraged me to enter stained glass design contest, several of which I won, and collaborated with me on other stained glass projects. I miss Joe. Thanks Joe, for everything you gave to me.


Joe Hester working with sketch for the glass doors
Joe Hester working with sketch for the glass doors





Stained Glass/ Copper Enamel Doors for Grunewald Guild

©2010 Kristen Gilje with Joe Hester, Window I for Guild Doors. Stained glass 55×25 inches

A big project has been brewing for quite a while now at the Grunewald Guild near Leavenworth WA. We’ve been collaborating on designing and building new entryway doors for our main building, the Centrum, to make it a more welcoming space. I was asked to design some stained glass “windows” which friend and stained glass artist Joe Hester somehow turned into a much bigger “entry doorway” project!

©2010 Kristen Gilje with Joe Hester,  Window II for Guild Doors. Stained glass, 55×25

Here’s the second window.These two will of course be side to side.

Joe Hester, stained glass person, put the windows together, etching  some of the glass with a labyrinth pattern, and painting on other parts to help simulate a butterfly wing.

Grunewald Guild commissioned Andrew Campbell, a woodworker from Plain WA, to make double wooden doors which will hold the windows.

Now you might think that these doors would be special enough but Joe decided to get enamelist Jean Tudor involved. She helped Joe develop enameled copper sheathing for the door! Following you will see all the color samples. Joe and I chose the enamel colors together, with the idea of extending the butterfly design out onto the copper sheathing over the wooden doors.

Joe with enamel colors

Joe is holding the butterfly that originally inspired my design. Below you can see my smaller schematic drawing of the butterfly design, and the larger drawing Joe did on big paper that served as a pattern for the stained glass cutting.

Scene from the glass studio
Schematic, large drawing, enamel colors, copper enamel sample

Pretty complicated, eh? Can you see the penciled outline of the wooden doors in the small drawing? And the two ovals that define the glass? So you see the design spills out onto the wooden doors.  There in front on the table you see one finished piece of copper enameling that will sheath the door.

Powdered enamel colors

Here’s a peak into the enameling process.

The enamel is applied as a powder onto copper pieces, then heated in a kiln to fuse the enamel onto the copper. It’s a big project, and Joe had lots of people helping.

And below you can see the finished copper pieces that will go onto the wooden door. The center part of the door, where the two doors meet, will hold the body of the butterfly.

Copper Enamel Pieces for Grunewald Doors



Joe has worked very hard to bring this project and all its pieces together. But now Joe is dealing with severe health problems and the project is on hold. I do believe all the pieces are there… literally. It may be that others of us will have to assemble them, to finish the beautiful gift Joe has made for the Grunewald Guild.







Here’s my original silk painting from the series “Metamorphosis” that inspired the door design. The series uses local butterflies representing change, labyrinths for the spiritual journey, and Celtic knots denoting the interconnectedness all. So this becomes the theme for the Grunewald Guild Entryway Doors.

©2010 Kristen Gilje “West Coast Lady Becoming II,”  28×22 inches, hand-painted silk.