Theresa Gallup has always enjoyed working with fabric, and for many years her fabric of choice has been that from the Japanese kimono and obi.
Gallup lived in Japan for seven years as the dean of students for the Miyazaki International College. While there, she began using kimonos to make garments and accessories for herself, including bags and scarves.
“Professors and faculty liked them and began asking me to make things for them,” Gallup said.
Gallup was invited to show her work while she was in Japan including a showing for the U.S. Embassy and several for U.S. military bases.
Upon returning to Springfield in 1998, Gallup decided to change her career path and try making these garments and accessories full time.
Gallup now sells her creations to 100 stores throughout the United States. In Columbia, her work can be found at Bluestem Missouri Crafts.
Several of Gallup’s pieces are on display at the Columbia Art League’s Cultural Kaleidoscope exhibit, which opened Tuesday and runs through Sept. 12. The exhibit features art inspired by various cultures. It is the second of 10 exhibits the Art League is hosting during its 2003-04 season.
Several Columbia artists are featured in this exhibit: fiber artist Janet Ghio, ceramic artists Robert Bussabarger and Norleen Nosri and painter Brooke Cameron.
Kathy Walther, the Art League’s past president, said artists are chosen based on their expressed interest in showing their pieces and on the theme desired for the exhibit. She said the artists choose which pieces will be put in the exhibit based on the theme.
Gallup is showing many examples of her work including bags, jackets, ties and scarves. All of her works incorporate a different Japanese kimono pattern, and each piece is one-of-a-kind.
Gallup buys her kimonos from rental companies in Japan, off the Internet and from wholesale companies in California. She said many of her kimonos come from customers who received them as gifts.
“People don’t know what to do with them, and they kind of just end up sitting in drawers,” Gallup said.
She said that kimonos are becoming harder to find but that the Japanese still wear them for festivals, weddings and concerts.
New kimonos start between $2,000 and $3,000. Gallup buys hers used, with stains and tears in them, and said she pays an average of $100 for each one.