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Art show looms in Lakewood Ranch

Fashion designer gets cool with her wool creations as a member of the Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch.

Country Club's Deborah Jernigan wears one of her creations.
Country Club's Deborah Jernigan wears one of her creations.
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Temperature certainly can effect art forms in different ways, but for the Country Club's Deborah Jernigan, it wasn't a consideration until it came time to sell her creations.

Jernigan had become enamored with working with wools, such as alpaca and angora, because she loves the feel, the warmth and the fact the animals providing the material are sheered, not killed.

Unfortunately, the market for wool products isn't very hot in Florida.

When Jermigan moved to Lakewood Ranch in 2016, she learned quickly she had to change the type of fashion she was creating. So she began to concentrate on fashion accessories, such as little scarves, so she could work with the same material she enjoyed. She also made what she calls "three-way wraps" that can be used as a poncho, a wrap or a shrug, along with tunics.

She added chiffons and worked with silks.

The women who came to see her displays loved the direction. It turned out Florida does fit her style.

On March 14 at the Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, Jernigan's art will be on display as part of the Spring Art Show and Sale presented by the Creative Arts Association of Lakewood Ranch.

The show features original works by local artists and artisans in watercolors, jewelry, pottery, ceramics, wood turning, pastels acrylics and fashionwear. The show is free as is parking.

Although she has had a lifelong love of art, it was in 1993 when Jernigan, who now is 70, started her love of weaving. She was visiting Asheville, N.C., when she came upon a barn sale sale.

Signs outside of the barn advertised the many yarn makers who were inside. Jernigan had to check it out.

"I ended up buying a 24-inch loom for $225," she said. "I had dabbled a little bit with knitting, but when I walked in, I was fascinated by all the yarn."

She had no experience working with a loom, but she wasn't concerned.

"I didn't know what I was doing, but I also know that if I want to learn something, I will find out about it," she said.

Country Club's Deborah Jernigan has a loom in her guest room where she concentrates on her projects.
Country Club's Deborah Jernigan has a loom in her guest room where she concentrates on her projects.

She never thought about weaving something to sell. She just wanted to create things she could wear.

At the time, she was a psychiatric emergency room nurse for San Mateo County (California) who had to deal with "the worst of the worst" cases.  Weaving was a break from her high-stress job.

She found a local yarn sho[ and spent hours there, talking about ideas with the owner and playing with the different yarns.

Eventually, she finished her first weaving project, a scarf.

"I was just learning," she said. "But tt came out pretty good and I sold it."

She learned she did, indeed, have a market for her fashion items.

When she looks back on her childhood in Perrysburg, Ohio, Jernigan is not surprised she has talent when it comes to art. Her mom, Patricia Emander, always has been artistic and even at 90 continues to work with clay as a sculptor.

"I didn't weave when I was growing up, but I always have been creative in other ways," Jernigan said. "I was good at decorating and I used to draw portraits in high school. I was pretty good. I could draw anything I could see."

She took fashion merchandising in college, but eventually switching careers to nursing.

Art, however, was appreciated in her household. She married her husband, Stan, in 1978, and he is a talented photographer.

When the Jernigans moved to California in 1991, she began to dabble with stick-pin jewelry. She wanted to get back into artistic endeavors. So she turned their spare room into her space for art.

"I loved working with my hands," she said. "I talk with my hands."

As she talked about lack of interest in television, she, indeed, waved her hands around to emphasize each word.

She talked about her favorite project, a wrap where the colors and textures came together perfectly. Even though it was her favorite, it will be for sale at the Spring Art Show and Sale.

Jernigan was asked what she does with projects that go awry.

"I made a tunic and it was too small," she said "Usually, something I don't like, I will tear it apart. but this was all cotton and it shrunk. It was a misjudgment. So I gave it to my mother.

"She gave it back."


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