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D. Ellis Originals

NICHE Award Finalist, 2014, "Pagoda"

NICHE Award Finalist, 2014, “Pagoda”

Dawna Ellis makes baskets and vessels by wrapping fabric around clothesline cord and sewing them together. I first saw them on an Artsy Shark interview (a wonderful blog which everyone should subscribe to!) and knew that they were special. I was on target as only a short time later, D. Ellis Originals ended up with two vessels as finalists in the much coveted NICHE Awards. I was delighted when Dawna accepted my invitation to join TAFA and am pleased to announce that you can now see her profile up on our site:

Visit D. Ellis Originals on TAFA

"It's a Wrap" by Susan Breier

“It’s a Wrap” by Susan Breier

The technique that Dawna uses to make these baskets is not really all that difficult nor unique. Many people whip out baskets and bags using up scraps from their other sewn projects. I have the book “It’s a Wrap”, pictured at the left, and have thought about trying it myself many times. It’s loaded with fun projects and friends who have made these baskets have said they go pretty quickly.

However, this is like saying “braiding is easy”. There are braids, which even a child can do, and then there are BRAIDS that make you hold your breath. Dawna has succeeded in elevating a fun craft into an art form. She does this in many ways:

Tight control of shape: Her lines are clearly defined and solid. Many of the baskets that I have seen, even examples in the book, are more loosely sewn, causing them to sag a bit. They are fine and fun, but Dawna’s works, often compared to ceramics, exude a feeling of permanence.

Choice of fabrics: Dawna often uses specialty fabrics such as Japanese kimono fabric or hand-printed batiks and the quality shows.

Use of color: Shapes and fabrics make full use of color to add impact and dimension.

Embellishments: Lids, beads, tassels, natural branches and Japanese hair sticks add elegance, character and definition to the works.

These elements come together in her portfolio collections on her website:

Far East Collection

Far East Collection by D. Ellis Originals

Batik Collection

Batik Collection by Dawna Ellis

Classics Collection

D. Ellis Originals

Americana Collection

D. Ellis Orignals coral basket

Dawna has also explored sculptural forms which I find quite interesting:

Fabric sculpture by Dawna Ellis

As with anything, practice makes perfect! Dawna has a wonderful selection of her work that you can click through on her portfolios. It will be interesting to see what she comes up with next as she continues to explore these elements that she has harnessed so well in her work. We are truly pleased to welcome her into our TAFA community and encourage you to leave her a comment here as a greeting, too.

We announce our new TAFA profiles here and if you would like to receive future ones by email, please sign up in the sidebar. 


I've been working with the arts and craft world in many capacities since 1988. Handmade textiles have been my core focus since launching TAFA in 2010.

My hope is to contribute to the economic development potential the arts bring to the world, along with the intrinsic beauty shown in the work. May the world become a friendlier place for artists and nature!

Arrived in Kentucky after a childhood in Brazil, college in Minnesota and 20 years in Chicago. It's been a ride!


on D. Ellis Originals.
  1. indira

    Amazing work! Welcome to TAFA.

We love hearing from our community!

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