A Feast for the Eyes
Wild Orchid Designs
The wonderful thing about discovering the Pink Plantation House is that the surprises just keep coming: arriving at the entrance through the garden path, two storeys peek over the surrounding trees and stately traveller palm, and it in the sunshine the house truly glows - well, pink! Inside there is an intimate, family feel and an obvious sense of history; the house really does have a quaint, Caribbean ambiance, but turn a corner and a profusion of colour reveals another one of its charms.
Wild Orchid Designs is the showcase for Michelle's prodigious artistry, walls lined with her paintings, shelves and antique furniture pieces bulging with hand-painted ceramics and pottery, tables displaying a vibrant range of silk-screened placemats, all designed by Michelle and created upstairs in the studio. Housed in the former great room, the Wild Orchid store is liable to distract even the hungriest visitor for a browse. Originally a painter, Michelle became a ceramic artist fourteen years ago, when she couldn’t find the right plates for her family’s Coal Pot Restaurant, so, necessity being the mother of invention, she taught herself another outlet for her artistry.
“I ordered the clay, the paints, a kiln and said let’s give this a try. I learnt the real hard way, and for a couple of years we had technical issues like hazy glaze and pieces cracking so I brought in an expert for a week who worked through all my issues and helped me to find the best way to make our products through the most indigenous method possible. I’m very much a colour artist, and unfortunately for me, the local clays are very heavy and dark with a lot of impurities, so they wouldn’t work for my pieces. I use an imported clay which is a fine, white background to work on with my Caribbean colours.
“Nothing in the islands is made without imported products, but my designs come from local inspiration and are very colourful, so the materials are specially The pottery really took off, but when the recession hit I turned to screen-printing to offer the customer a lighter, more convenient product to carry home.” Upstairs, the studio is a tiny cottage industry of two, who first sketch Michelle’s designs on smooth white plates, platters, mugs and a myriad of other wonderfully useful products. Miniature fishing villages spring to life under the skilled hands ofcermaic artists who have a combined fourteen years of experience and a lifetime of artistic talent; leafy hibiscus flowers and brightly-coloured fish are accented with embossed detailing and every piece is fired in the kiln for 24 hours.
Beneath the house a cool, basement screen-printing studio takes Michelle’s uniquely signature but oh-so-Caribbean creations and translates them into crisp, twill placemats which are like art for the dining table. Up to eleven colours are layered to achieve the final image, and local ladies provide the sewing services for the finished product, and Michelle of course has a million ideas to expand the line.
Despite her humble reluctance to blow her own trumpet, Michelle Elliott is a gifted artist who has invested her creative spirit, not only into her paintings, cermaics and screen-printing works, but into the house which is now the permanent home of Wild Orchid Designs. Her personal touch is front and central throughout the Pink Plantation House, but nowhere more so than in the Wild Orchid showroom.