Watercolor in the Sacred Milieu, at Grunewald Guild!

What a wonderful summertime class we had. Beautiful weather, great company, and lots of art happening!

We shared the Guild with calligrapher Mary McLeod and students, glass artists Gail Kelly and her following, and architect Paul Barribeau presenting on “Sacred Space” to his students. Photographer and poet Mollie captured us all beautifully. Check out this beautiful video of the whole week.

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.