24 March 2011

Hand Made Life

 Hi, I'm Joy and I am a full-time artisan and a craftsperson. I design and paint silk fashion accessories and home decor accents in Ashland, Oregon. Painting silk began as a hobby and has grown to be my passion and career focus. I consider myself a designer and when people ask me "what do you do?" I unwaveringly reply "I'm an artist, and I like to garden".
 In the beginning, when I first moved to Oregon, I would paint silk outdoors when the weather permitted. In my former home I had a nice, but small room that was dedicated to my hobby, but now I've  got a proper studio in my two-car garage. You can see I've got a lot of room, enough for a sewing station and two large tables on wheels, which allows me to move them out of the way when I want to do a photo shoot. It's great to have this much space to work! And when the weather permits, I continue to enjoy painting en plein air.
I am pretty organized and have systems for keeping my supplies in stock. I have quite a few frames for stretching the silk out to paint on in different sizes. I use DuPont brand of Silk Dyes, I love their vivid colors and the way they keep their brilliance forever once they are steam-set. Because of the superior quality and consistency, I favor Chinese silks over Indian and Vietnamese silks. Before I got my fab commercial steamer I had "invented" my own using a commercial stock pot and some dowels - I cooked my silks on the stove like a mad scientist! 
I like making accessories because scarves are so easy to wear and so versatile. A scarf is an instant wardrobe update and so effortless. Even when I'm wearing jeans or sweats at home, when I have to dash out to the grocery store or pick up the kids, I just throw on a scarf with my jacket and I feel pretty (and the compliments I get prove that out too)!
A silk scarf will definitely take an elegant outfit up a notch as well. Here I'm wearing a satin trimmed ruana with a vintage Bill Blass silk chiffon cocktail dress. A silk shawl or wrap is elegant and practical on a summer night or for any special occasion. 

This is the same ruana as in the black dress shot, but it's just been taken from the steamer so it's still stiff with dye and salt. After it's washed and ironed, there is nothing softer than a silk scarf against your skin. I love making accessories, because you know, you just can't have too many scarves!