In these days of over-scheduling and everyone being so busy, I’ve actually found a way to recharge myself. I can step out of my busy lifestyle and find my way to a happy place where everyone and everything is blocked from entering my head. I can actually have a “Calgon take me away!” moment, especially while painting at my cottage in York Beach, ME. Actually any beach house would do!
Almost two years ago I remember having a conversation with my son who was opening an eCommerce store on his company website. He had plenty of merchandise for men, but he needed ideas for accessories that would appeal to the women who visit his site.
I decided to come up with something to help him out. Somehow I came up with the idea to paint on silk. Maybe it was while I was in the shower...who knows! I did some research, got some advice from a friend who dyed silk and I was on my way to learning a new craft. I ordered pre-made silk scarves, the dyes and tools necessary for silk painting. In order to paint on silk, the silk needs to be stretched tight or the dye will puddle. So after a little more research, I learned how to make a stretcher from ¾” PVC pipe. I bought the pipe, took some measurements and started cutting it
to different lengths to accommodate different sized scarves. The picture on the right shows one of my first scarves drying on my living room floor. The silk is held tight on the frame with rubber bands and Chinese suspension hooks. These hooks are very sharp!
I set up shop in my living room, which is tiny. I paint on a plastic folding table in the middle of the room. The table is covered with a plastic shower curtain to catch any drips from the dyes. My gigantic handmade steamer sits in the corner of the living room. The steamer consists of an induction burner, a very large pot for water, with a custom fit flange, a heat vent and cover.
Each silk item needs to be steamed for about 2 hours depending on the size and quantity being steamed. The scarves are wrapped in between sheets of newsprint and then wrapped in a pillowcase and suspended inside the steamer. I made two slices on the top of the heat vent where a piece of metal sits holding the pillowcase. Sometimes it sounds like a train is moving right through the room! My family seems to be ok with this for now!
My son's site took longer to set up than I expected and the holidays were arriving soon so rather than wait, I had to come up with a name for my “company” to set up a Facebook page and an Etsy Shop to sell my scarves. My daughter got a tattoo while she was away at college. She had the word Serendipity tattooed on her side. When she got it I asked what it meant. She explained it as coming upon something pleasant by chance. That’s how I came up with Serendipity Silks. Since the beginning, I’ve added silk neckties and silk wrap bracelets and jewelry accessories to my collection. There’s still so much to learn. I’ve even made different collections within the scarves, a Whimsy Collection, a Classic Collection, and an Inspirational Line. I continue to love what I'm doing and especially love watching the vibrant colors come to life on the different silk types. I’ve learned several different techniques for silk painting and depending on how I feel at any given moment my favorite technique can change in a flash.
I often get my inspiration from the beach. I love to paint at my cottage in York Beach, ME. I can paint in my living room with the door opened to the porch overlooking the ocean. You can't bet any better than that! The smells of the sea and the sounds of the waves puts me in a such a calm relaxed state, oh so very motivating! I only paint by hand and never use stencils, so there will never be an exact duplicate. Even if I tried to duplicate a design, there are too many contributing factors that would make it impossible, such as humidity, how fast the dye dries, etc. Each piece is gift wrapped in a hand made envelope using a gorgeous textured white card stock. An acetate viewing window is located on the front so the silk can peek through for just a tease for what's to come. The envelope is then sealed with a Serendipity Silks sticker to secure the item inside.Included with the package is a custom card with care instructions to keep your piece looking beautiful for a long time to come!
For the moment I sell online, at craft fairs and at home parties. For now I will continue to escape from my busy world and get lost in my happy place of soft dreamy silk and watercolor paints.