Mimi Paris Jacaruso, who lives life as art. Photo by Marshall Smith
Mimi Paris Jacaruso, who lives life as art.
Photo by Marshall Smith

“I think we need more beauty to be happy,” said artist, designer and teacher Mimi Paris Jacaruso of Idyllwild. “Beauty teaches us love and respect. What one does in their own little corner of the world benefits the planet. There are so many hearts in this world.”

Working from the heart, and designing for the many hearts, Mimi creates striking art in a variety of media — Sumi (Japanese watercolor) painting, faux painting, metal and glass gilding, and designing and making silk scarves that are marketed internationally. The broad sweep of her palette is indicative of her French effervescence and Renaissance personality — having an interest in and finding inspiration from everything around her, and expressing that in art. “I decorated everything that I could get my hands on,” she said, recalling her beginnings as an artist. “It is an energy you want to dance with, to find the playfulness in it.

“It all began with my fascination with color, probably from the time I was born,” she reflected. “My earliest recollection of being intrigued with color and texture was when an electrician came to our house in France. I was 4 and saw all these multi- colored wires in his truck and wanted to touch and arrange them.”

One of Jacaruso’s one-of-a-kind scarves. Photo courtesy of Mimi Jacaruso
One of Jacaruso’s one-of-a-kind scarves.
Photo courtesy of Mimi Jacaruso

Mimi has been touching, arranging and enhancing almost everything she has encountered since then. Trained as a teacher, Mimi has taught French in U.S. middle and Montessori schools. But she always created art in whatever spare time she had. “I just wanted to make beautiful things,” she said.

Trained at Parsons School of Design in New York City, Mimi has worked primarily for friends, designing and decorating. Since son Luca graduated from Idyllwild Arts last year and began studying at the University of Southern California, Mimi has used her home as her studio. She has expanded her business of making handmade original wool and silk scarves, Elemental Designs, into an international enterprise.

Her areas of concentration are in creating unique, specifically designed Shibori and nuno felted silk scarves. Nuno felting, a process developed by Australian fiber artist Polly Stirling in the early 1990s, bonds felt fiber onto silk or wool, using soap, water and pressure to laminate and fuse the fibers to the fabric.

With many nuno-felting artists, the designs are non-specific and impressionistic. Mimi uses individual felt fibers to create specific designs, carefully arranging fiber by fiber onto the fabric. “Not everyone does specific designs,” she said. “I have a more individual approach. I’m trying to create unique designs in a process I’m learning to control. I dye all my own silk,” she said. Her creations feature flowers, geometric shapes and tribal designs.

She also creates Shibori silk scarves — a process of elevating part of a piece of flat cloth around forms or objects into three-dimensional impressions that remain after the fabric is pressed and held onto the objects and subsequently released. “It is making 3D art out of flat cloth,” she said.

To be in her studio is to experience how many objects she has changed with her artistic vision — gilded glass and metal, faux-painted surfaces, felt applied to rocks and acorns, Japanese watercolor paintings and the wide variety of her scarves, both silk and wool. When asked why she works in so many media, she explained she finds beauty everywhere. “On a cosmic level, it is important to be here with your people and to be wide open and as receptive as you can. There is so much that is beautiful, and it is important not to miss that.”

For more information, Mimi can be reached at
[email protected].