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Artist Creates Magic on Silk

The awakening for Shekina Rudoy came the moment the dye touched the silk.

“I was hooked,” says the textile artist, whose timeless hand-painted silk wearables complete the statement of whatever look you’re trying to achieve. You’ll find Shekina Designs at both Rose Squared Brookdale Park shows this year (June 17-18 and Oct. 21-22) and at its Anderson Park show (Sept. 23-24).

Creating the gorgeous and flowy apparel starts with choosing the fabric and design and then stretching the silk onto a horizontal frame to mark the areas for sleeves and trim. Tjanting tools apply wax in fine lines and the selected colors are chosen with care, each influencing the next. The silk is hand painted prior to being heat set and hand washed five to six times until the water runs clean. Dry cleaning follows and the piece is ironed then cut and sewn into Shekina’s design patterns. Finishing touches are added.

Shekina’s process is reflective of the uniqueness that defines her as an artist.

“Art has always been a doorway that allowed me to explore freely and infinitely,” she says. “I was always out of the box. When I went to college, I created my own major. If I didn’t find the way that resonated with what I felt inside, I created it. I’m a yes person and I like the flow of yes. I don’t think things are impossible. There’s always a way.”

Shekina earned her bachelor’s in textiles at Humboldt State University in Northern California. She pulled together multiple disciplines within the arts to create the major, including theater where she learned about costume design. She discovered dye on silk in a surface design class.


She talks of her palate of dyes as some would their children. Shekina embraces vibrant bold hues or the nuance of sublime tones. 

“In the beginning, I would start with one color and then go off and all of the sudden, I listened to my inner voice, and I’d try something,” she says. “I would do these color combinations that I’m now known for. I’m not afraid of color.”

While Shekina exhibits up and down the East Coast and will drive as far as Texas, she doesn’t offer online sales. Everything is custom and takes a minimum of four weeks to create. The pandemic not only interrupted her business, it affected the availability of the silks she uses and more profoundly, the dyes. Many of the colors were discontinued — she bought out as many as she could — forcing her to return to using powdered dyes that require she wear a mask to avoid the dust particles.

“I thought I’d never want to deal with powdered dyes again, but I’ve actually discovered a really happy orange,” she says. “I wouldn’t have that discovery had the dyes not been discontinued.”

Shekina welcomes this new stage in what feels like the last chapter of her career. Shekina Designs has been in business for 40 years, a span when she co-parented a son and went from working multiple jobs to just focusing on her successful business. It’s been a journey. The setup for her first show — two parallel clotheslines attached to a pair of trees on the campus of Princeton University featured 12 hand-painted scarves hooked to the lines.

“I sold all the scarves,” she says. “That’s when I realized maybe I had something.”

Still in Princeton, she works in a basement studio, NPR accompanying her while she designs.  Meeting new customers remains a joy. “I rely on that feedback from the public and from seeing my pieces flow on the body,” she says.

Visit Shekina Designs at Brookdale Park and Anderson Park in 2023.