Note: I just started working with Judy Elliott of Dragonfly Designs West to take over the maintenance on her existing website, an exciting development that follows a year of getting to know her. I’m posting an edited version of the article we submitted to the Jacksonville Review to promote her current show at the GoodBean Cafe in Jacksonville to tell you more about her. This show comes down Friday afternoon (May 31), so be sure to stop in before the end of the month…and again after the first, when we will not only have a new featured artist on display, but one of Judy’s new large wall hangings will be installed on the rafter where the koi are now! I’ll post a link to Judy’s website once it’s been updated (www.yourkimono.com), and more on the projects I worked on last month once we’ve finished wrapping them up. ~ Hannah West
GoodBean owner Mary Kell and art curator Hannah West of Art Presence fell in love with the hand-painted silk creations from Judy Elliott’s Dragonfly Designs West last summer, featuring a handsewn kimono in the guest artist spot above the coffee counter and a spectacular hand-painted black and red hibiscus wall hanging that fluttered delicately above our heads when we opened the front doors. Judy didn’t have much work to share at that time since she was also exhibiting at Jacksonville Celebrates the Arts. She sold nearly all her inventory at the festival, became a member of Art Presence and the Southern Oregon Artists Resource, and we were so impressed we invited her to return the following spring for a featured exhibition.
Judy has since gotten married, moved into a new home, started a new career and painted a lot of silk ~ you’ll be treated to an array of stunning pieces that will make memorable gifts for someone special – or for yourself! – if you come in the cafe for a cup of something warm (for chilly spring days) or cold (for hot spring days – we’ve had plenty of both this year!). Along with handsewn cotton kimonos and Happi (pronounced “hoppy”) coats with authentic Japanese prints, hand-painted silk scarves, handheld fans and wall hangings, we can also expect to see hand-painted paper Japanese-style umbrellas!
Judy shares a glimpse into her past and highlights of the process behind her creations:
“Growing up in Hawaii, I absorbed the tastes and cultures of the Islands. My father, a photographer, blessed me with an artistic eye for exotic colors and shapes. Early on I developed an interest in Japanese fashion and design, particularly the Kimono and Happi (pronounced “Hoppi”) Coat, which I often wore as a child while dancing.
“In 1991 I brought these passions with me to Oregon. To expand on the skills I developed while attending interior design school in Hawaii, I began offering hand-painted silk scarves, wall hangings, and mid-length kimoros, often worn as a robe. Now I frequently receive commissions to create custom pieces to wear or to decorate a home or office.
“My line of kimonos are made from Japanese and Hawaiian printed polished cotton. I’ve found that cotton is a far more comfortable choice of fabric for everyday wear, and the variety of prints are more accessible.
“Silk comes from the silk worm and is spun into threads to weave into various items. While visiting a silk carpet manufacturing facility in Turkey, I learned more about how the threads are formed and used. While silk appears to be a very delicate fabric, it is actually very strong and durable. Silk is a unique item to paint on and requires trial and error before beginning the process. I enjoy working with silk, experimenting with new ways to use it. Some of my hand-painted scarves and wall hangings are outlined with gutta, a rubberized substance that prevents the dye from traveling from one section of the scarf to another. Some of my newer scarves are painted with dye and wax, accented with the use of salt to create beautiful effects. Each scarf must be heat-set after a four day process to prevent colors from bleeding. They can then be handwashed with a mild fabric soap.”
Though she didn’t get the Mother’s Day sales I expected with all those colorful and beautifully hand painted silk scarves on display, Judy has had a very successful show, selling two gorgeous kimonos (including the one pictured above) with magnificent Japanese crane prints to one enthusiastic buyer last week! Better check out those scarves before they’re gone…
When I asked Mary how she liked what Judy had done with her exhibition, she said “I feel so fortunate! Not everyone has beautiful art like this in their business!” A known mermaid who loves spending time by the ocean, it’s no surprise that Mary finds this show close to her heart. I’ll have to bring her to the reception for the Art Presence show in June, as Judy will be exhibiting two works not seen at the GoodBean now as part of the “Coastal, By the Sea” show of member works.
This is a wonderfully colorful show with graceful designs that create a lovely ambience in the GoodBean’s cafe ~ please enjoy it enjoy while there’s still time as it comes down at the end of this month. If you miss it though, all is not lost, to calm her wedding day nerves, Judy created another spectacular wall hanging called “Tropical Splendor” which will replace the one pictured on the left.