Our Weekly Spotlight on the Arts is shining brightly on local artist Judy Dillon!
Judy is well-known for her delectable handmade candies, hand-sewn items ranging from her ever-popular bowl holders, “kitchen towel aprons”, colorful pot holders, warm and fuzzy baby blankets, and now even a wide variety of stylish cloth face masks of various sizes, shapes, and patterns.
Mrs. Dillon’s jams and jellies have an amazing fan club of customers, especially around the fall and winter, when her selection of over 50 different flavors move quickly for the holidays. From amazing choices of Apple Butter to Raspberry Rhubarb, Spice-Pumpkin Pecan Spread, Watermelon-Lemon, and everything in between, Judy has mastered the art form of “Jammie by Granny” and will have you wanting to try more!
Judy is one of the founding members of the St. Mary’s County Craft Guild, established in 1976 by a group of talented artists with the goal of organizing and operating a retail store in the heart of Southern Maryland. An amazing 44 years later, she is still the heartbeat of the Craft Guild serving many years as President and in a variety of other roles.
As 2020 presented many challenges for all, this was a particularly difficult year for our featured artist. Many know Judy and the Craft Guild for their presence and for hosting artists at the Crab Festival and Oyster Festival, two major events held annually at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds and both canceled this year due to the pandemic.
In August the Guild’s retail space on Route 5 was overcome by the excessive rainfall and frequent flooding in north Leonardtown. Many of the artists suffered significant losses of their handcrafted items from irreparable water damage which also included destruction of the store displays and ultimately left them without a storefront.
The hardest loss of all followed soon after with the passing of Judy’s husband, Thomas “Matt” Dillon on October 6th. Despite so many setbacks and challenges, Judy’s devotion to her family, her friends, the artists of the Guild, and many others helped drive her determination to pick up the pieces of the life which she once knew and move forward.
Judy’s creativity has always been a beacon of light to her in hard times over the years. Designing, canning, creating, and sewing have all brought her a consistent sense of well-being as well as enjoyment from seeing the happiness that her handmade items have brought to others. Albeit temporarily, the Craft Guild Shop has found a new home at 22760 Washington St. in downtown Leonardtown and are now open seven days a week, continuing as this area’s oldest artist co-op and where you may often find our featured artist and say hello.
Keep on shining Judy, we are very much looking forward to seeing your next projects and ventures!
“My love of helping someone else is how I was raised on a farm in South Dakota, which also led me to judging 4-H crafts and other crafts at Maryland Fairs every year for the last 30 years.”