A creative spirit and business pioneer for our time

Posted in Duff 'n Stuff, Visual Art

Duff ’n Stuff, Nov. 20, 2012

I need to gush about a certain artist and what she is doing now before I burst.

Since settling on Whidbey Island almost seven years ago and becoming an arts reporter, I’ve met an inordinate number of talented people in a place teeming with artists. But there is a shorter list of those who have stood out to me over the years, and Marguerite Juve is at the top.

Juve was one of the first people I met when I began that newspaper job. I didn’t really know what I was doing, having never been a reporter, and I remember her being entirely welcoming to me, clueless as I was, telling me about as many artists as she could who might make a good subject for a story. She helped me to look like I knew what I was doing. We became good friends years later, and she remains not only one of my favorite artists, but also someone whose unconditional kindness toward her community has been an example to me. Basically, the divinely artistic Peggy Juve is one of the most enjoyable persons I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

Her long and notable career has included various forays into a variety of forms in which she has excelled, including painting on glass, textiles and wearable art, and in oil painting for which she is represented by Langley’s MUSEO gallery.

Now, as a shop-owner, Peggy has opened up a whole new aspect of her career and I’ve stood by and watched with interest as the growth of this natural artist continues to reach new heights.

Juve is co-owner of Eddy’s in downtown Langley with Harriet Behncke. The five-year-old Eddy’s is the place where “art meets apparel” as the tagline says, and where customers can buy luxuriously soft, organic cotton shirts printed with the original artwork of local artists. It is also a place where discerning shoppers can buy a variety of masterpieces of custom-made women’s clothing and other sundry by the one-and-only Juve.

Recently, her development sprouted a new leaf when she purchased a state-of-the-art Anajet Apparel printer, with the intention of taking on the printing aspect of the business. Peggy invited me to her home studio in Langley to see it. When I arrived, she reminded me somewhat of a kid who gets to play in the mud. She looked happier than any other person I’ve ever seen at work. Here was a middle-aged person who has been a professional artist for more than 30 years acting as if she was discovering art for the first time.

“I’m telling you, Patricia, I have never had so much fun in all my life,” she said, as she bopped around the studio looking for stuff to show me.

“I’m learning so much about Photoshop, about printing on fabrics, about color and design. I get up in the morning and can’t wait to get out here. It’s just so exciting!”

Indeed, as I watched and listened, she showed me the recent discoveries she made of how the images that are stored on her computer reveal themselves down to the utmost detail on all types of fabrics, including silks, upholstery fabrics, the heavy linen-like cotton of an old seed bag and others.

She showed me how the printer worked. She pulled up an image on her monitor and entered the measurements based on the shape of the image and the size of the piece of cotton she snapped onto the machine. The printer is expensive and fragile and the studio must be kept at a perfectly calibrated temperature and humidity level to keep it working well. She showed me how you can place precisely the right amount of the printer’s special inks onto the garment or another print surface, adjusting the saturation of color to within a decimal point on the computer.

“Press that button,” she said.

The printer kicked in and within less than a minute a minutely-detailed drawing created by my daughter Claudia appeared in its most precise detail on the heavy cotton fabric. Wow!

Peggy’s eyes lit up pleased that I was as impressed as she was. The machine is excellent, but the artist makes it even more so.

Whenever I walk into Eddy’s I see the further blossoming of Juve’s work toward new heights of mastery.

Not only is she is a careful and expert tailor, her designs of women’s one-of-a-kind clothing and baby clothes, hats, gloves, scarves and jewelry blend sophistication and whimsy; wintery warmth or summer lightness; colors, shapes, textures; and all those details that make something to wear more art than just a thing to wear. She makes these colorful, soft fleece, fingerless gloves that make me feel like a rock star when I wear them because women often stop me (like people do rock stars) and ask me where I got them. Eddy’s in Langley, of course.

And if all that accomplishment wasn’t enough, things are still happening, still growing and changing because, although it’s been a struggle, these women are determined to make this business a success. As both Harriet and Peggy have said to me before, “When the world gets chaotic, stay positive and remain creative.”

So they have.

Peggy showed me a new logo that she designed for “Merge,” a new collaboration she began for Eddy’s with another longtime Whidbey Island artist,  Meredith MacLeod, whose signature line of printed designs grace several of Eddy’s bestselling T-shirts, bags and hats.

Such collaboration is a natural step for Juve. She and Harriet started the company on the premise that the business would embrace and give back to the community by taking an overall sustainable approach ( they use only eco-friendly products and engaged a local printer who eventually sold them the Anajet) to everything they do, including supporting local non-profit community organizations.

During our recent visit, Juve talked about several other artists who are being tapped as designers, such as Lucy Brennan, a recent art graduate of the University Washington who will do the alphabet designs for Eddy’s line of baby clothes.

Another idea, Juve said, is to create a small factory for an Eddy’s clothing production team that would employ local artists and support more families in the area.

These are the kind of goals that appealed to documentary filmmakers Patricia Van Ryker and Ron Colby, who have tapped Eddy’s as one business that will be featured in their film “By US, The Sustainable Documentary.”  The film will focus on certain small businesses, including Eddy’s and Quimper Mercantile (the cooperative general store in Port Townsend), that believe in the power of buying local and choose to sell products made only in the United States. The film’s website quotes Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.”  (Whidbey Life Magazine plans to follow the story of the making of that film that will star our local heroes at Eddy’s.)

I have to agree with the filmmakers; Eddy’s sets a good example for a new paradigm of the way to do business in America, with compassion for community and the planet.

Eddy’s still struggles to make it all work after five years in business, but the owners persevere without sending things off to be made in China on the cheap. That’s why their high-quality tees are more expensive; they’re soft, organic, beautiful and they last.

Juve continues to keep herself in a high creative spirit and keeps blooming again and again.

“I’m 57 years old,” she said as she worked excitedly away in the studio, “I’m in Photoshop everyday learning. It’s been very good for me having this experience; learning something new like this.”

Then she was back to the mud.

From the heart,
Patricia Duff

Such a deal! Shoppers who mention Whidbey Life Magazine at Eddy’s will automatically receive a 25 percent discount on any in-stock artist T-shirt through the month of November.  

Here’s Eddy’s website.

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Patricia Duff is an award-winning journalist whose most recent kudos include several wins in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association 2011 competition.

 

 

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