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Eastpoint artist Joyce Estes is inspired by both the natural and spiritual world to create lovely designs with silk and dye.



Estes has been creating silk paintings for more than 30 years.



Although silk painting has been an art form in the Far East for about 2,000 years, it appeared in Europe in the early 1800s. It was not widely known in the US until the 1970s, so Estes was among the first North American silk painters and an early member of Silk Painters International (SPIN).



Today, she successfully markets both wearable and liturgical silk art and is the president of SPIN.



 “I started painting when I answered an ad and traveled to Baltimore to study with Diane Tuckman, founder of SPIN. Tuckman coauthored the first English language book on silk painting with Jan Janas,” Estes said. “ I call her a little Jewish bulldog. Once she gets hold of you, she doesn’t let go.”



By the way, works by Estes will be featured in Tuckman’s next publication.



Estes said she did not take her own work in silk seriously, at first, but now she is on a mission to have silk painting recognized as a fine art form and not dismissed as a craft.



To this end, as president of SPIN she is reaching out to other textile artists, especially those in the South, to explore silk art.



“Quilters and other textile artists need to understand that they are welcome to join SPIN. The one requirement is that 75 percent of a textile project consists of silk,” said Estes.



One way she is seeking to expand membership is by hosting a minifestival for SPIN at the LeMoyne Gallery in Tallahassee.



“The big annual silk show is always held in Santa Fe, New Mexico because most silk artists are in California or New York and Santa Fe is a major center for the arts,” she said.



Estes said the Tallahassee event, sanctioned by the SPIN board, will be held August 7 through 11. There will be a reception on August 9 and an accompanying exhibition at Lemoyne will hang August 2 through 31. You can get more information about the festival, visit http://www.lemoyne.org/.



Estes work reflects her love of nature.



A new series of floral designs with string lilies, dragonflies and magnolias was inspired by paddle trips with the Apalachicola Riverkeepers ”Fourth Saturday” paddle program.



Another powerful source of artistic inspiration is her faith.



Estes began creating liturgical art to hang behind the altars of the Apalachicola/St. George Island United Methodist Church Cooperative Parish. She soon added stoles for women ministers to her repertoire.



A devout churchwoman, her work caught the attention of the governing members of the UMC church and she is now the official artist and artistic chair for the group’s General Conference. She has designed silk hangings for prayer gardens, created as aids to meditation for attendees at large church gatherings. Last year, Estes attended all five regional jurisdictional conferences to promote prayer gardens, which are actually a series of meditation stations created around a central altar to provoke thought.



For the 2012 General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Tampa, Estes created altar draperies centered around a “Vortex of Creation” using 70 yards of silk. The actual physical work of dyeing the hangings took a month but she said creating the design took much longer.



Estes said she begins a work with plain white silk, stretched on a Moyer frame and treated with sizing. From there, the technique varies and new techniques are being developed every day.



“It’s a fine art and people need to realize that,” said Estes. “We need to get organized to share with one another.”