The Dawdler's Studio - Gail Ruth

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Gail in studio painting a scarfHandpainted Original Wearable Works of Art by Gail Ruth

To the left: I'm painting another layer on one of my smaller scarves. More layers to come. The end result is far different from what you see here.

Care Instructions

Artist Statement

I respond profoundly to color and beauty. Because of this, as an artist, I have been drawn to silk and the way it takes color with such vibrancy.

I suspend various types of white silks on frames, and using squirrel-hair artist brushes and needle-like nibs, paint with fine imported French dyes.

Handpainting silk scarves is an opportunity for me to simply explore complex color and texture. I don't start a scarf with a plan of what I'm going to paint. Instead I follow an unanticipated path, which leads me color by color, layer after layer, as rich, complex color combinations emerge. The journey continues until my heart loves it and knows it is finished.

In addition to my handpainted work, I also hand-dye burn-out rayon-and-silk blends using mostly domestic silk dyes.

The Creator is involved in all my art. I brand my silks "Dancing on Silk", for not only do the dyes dance on the silk, but the Creator's blessing does as well. Because of this, my scarves often trigger intense and wonderful experiences for the spiritually sensitive when the right scarf connects with the right person.

Each scarf is individually named and signed by me. All my silks are professionally steam-set for complete color-fastness, and all excess dyes thoroughly washed out. The results are delightful works of wearable art that are unique in the world of silk painting.

silks draped on piano
The owner of the blue scarf wrote and said, "The scarf is absolutely beautiful. In fact, it looks so much better than it did in the picture on your site - the colors are so vibrant and go together so well!"

picture of 2 scarfs
Small sections of some scarves that have gone to happy homes. The request I always get is, "Ooh, Could you paint me one like that!" And the reality is, I can't. It seems each scarf wants to be an individual.

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General Care Instructions for My Scarves

Protect your silk from prolonged direct sunlight and heat sources, as such exposure degrades the silk and bleaches the pigments.

If wrinkled, hang and steam, or mist and iron on the back side.

You may dry clean or handwash this silk. Dry cleaning gives the best finish.

To handwash, use a gentle dishwashing liquid in cold water.

While still damp, iron dry on the second lowest or “silk” setting. Iron on the back side of the fabric. Sometimes an extra mist of water is needed to remove wrinkles.

painting in studio
In my studio a few years ago painting worship flags.

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Questions? Contact me.
(I don't take special orders or do custom work.)

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The Silks I Use Most

Silk is measured by weight. The unit of measure is "momme" (pronounced "mummy"), abbreviated "mm".

19.5 mm Charmeuse, also called Crepe Back Silk Satin, is in my opinion the ultimate silken luxury. With such an abundance of heavy silk to soak up dyes, the colors are extra rich and vibrant. The satiny sheen then gloriously highlights these rich colors. The satin finish on the Charmeuse is fragile and must be treated with care. When ironing, iron on the non-satin, crepe side to prevent marring the satin.

8 mm Chiffon is an airy, almost transparent silk that uniquely and intensely takes dyes. The colors on this fabric spring brightly to life when laid against a dark backdrop or when the scarf is folded over against itself. This creates delicious variations as the silk is worn. I particularly enjoy the effects I can get when painting on this type of silk. After washing, the still-damp silk needs to be gently stretched while ironing to restore its full size.

12 mm Crepe de Chine is a soft, luxurious silk with a most elegant drape. Its fine, pebbly texture and the rich and reactive way it responds to dyes make it a high end favorite among silk painters. This silk has a lustrous matte finish on both sides.

8 mm Flat Crepe is a shimmering, lightweight luxury silk with a feather-light drape. It is a fragile silk, but so wonderful to the eye and the touch that the extra care needed is well worth it. Flat crepe is prized by many silk painters for the uniquely gentle way it takes dyes. It is impossible to reproduce on other silks the soft colors of dyes on flat crepe. It is important to iron on the back side of this silk.

Cut Devore Satin is a fun and striking favorite among scarf afficianados. The backing fabric of the Devore Satin is an almost transparent silk chiffon, while the shimmery fill yarns are rayon. The pattern is created by chemically burning out areas of the rayon yarns (I buy the fabric pre-burned). When using silk dyes on these scarves, the background silk receives the dyes darkly, while the rayon yarns receive a lighter wash of color. This creates striking effects in the finished scarf.

• Gail Ruth • Palmer, Alaska • all contents © 2010 Gail Ruth, all rights reserved •