Judith Sutcliffe is an artist whose work includes tile painting, printing letterpress books, and designing type. In 1946, at the age of five, she moved to Audubon, Iowa, with her parents. She later graduated from Audubon Community High School as valedictorian and then majored in English and Chinese at the University of Iowa, graduating summa cum laude in 1963.
In 1968, after working at a variety of occupations elsewhere, Sutcliffe returned to Audubon and formed Greentree Enterprises. Under the auspices of this company, she collaborated with Joan Liffring-Zug on the hand-manufacture of over seventy editions of Iowa Heritage Collectors plates. She also created, in conjunction with Lorraine Larsen, limited editions of American Child Dolls. Their projects included designing and making the Iowa First Lady Dolls, which are on permanent display in the State Capitol, and dolls for the animated film, Raggedy Ann and Andy.
Sutcliffe moved to Santa Barbara, California, in 1978 and began a business painting tile murals (an activity she had begun in Iowa). Her murals can be found in several public locations around Santa Barbara including outside the courthouse. Soon after her move to California, Sutcliffe purchased two letterpresses and began printing letterpress book editions with linocut illustrations. In 1984, she purchased a Macintosh computer and expanded her business to include designing type for the Macintosh. Thereafter, she divided her business activities between tile and type. Sutcliffe moved back to Audubon in 1996.
Sutcliffe has been involved in the production of several books in addition to the letterpress volumes she prints herself. She published her father's autobiography, Memories of an Iowa Veterinarian, and a book on tuberculosis which she co-authored with her mother, Grandma Cherry's Spoon: A Story of Tuberculosis. Sutcliffe also published a coloring book of her nature drawings entitled California Wildflower Drawings.
The Judith Sutcliffe papers date from 1957 to 2008 and measure 5.5 linear feet. The papers are arranged in nine series: Biographical information (1955-1960); Business (1960-1994), Publications (1985-2008); Correspondence (1953-1994); Artwork (1960-2006); Writings (1977-2003); Newspaper clippings (1952-1996);Â Photographs (1969-1992); Marjorie McVicker and Bill Sutcliffe (1935-1971). The bulk of this collection documents Sutcliffe's work as a printer and tile artist in Santa Barbara; however, there are photographs and newspaper clippings documenting earlier business ventures in Iowa as well as correspondence from Sutcliffe's high school and college years. Many of the items have handwritten notes from Sutcliffe explaining their significance.
The Correspondence series (1953-2000) contains two sets of letters. The first includes letters sent to Sutcliffe by her friend, John Niemeyer, during the period 1957-1960. It contains comments about their attitudes towards rock and roll music and a continuing debate about religion, especially Catholicism. The second set in this series encompasses the letters sent to Sutcliffe by Grace Ellis in 1963 and 1964. The bulk of the third set of letters was written by Sutcliffe to her parents while she lived in Santa Barbara. Sutcliffe corresponded frequently with her parents and would often send several letters a week. The letters describe her life and work. In addition, there are also letters from Sutcliffe's friends and her parent's friends, as well as her sister, Juana Reynolds, who lived in Overland Park, Kansas.
The Business series (1960-1994) contains materials dealing with Sutcliffe's work as a publisher and , printer, pottery artist and tile painter.Â It includes promotional pamphlets and samples of her font designs as well as materials about Lotte Lehman (an opera singer about whom Sutcliffe wrote and published) and mementos from her personal and professional relationship with another printer and publisher, Roger Levenson. Also included are materials from her tile murals business in Santa Barbara, CA. It consists primarily of postcards and photographs of Sutcliffe's murals and some promotional pamphlets (printed by Sutcliffe).Â Some related materials, photographs of earlier tile designs done in Iowa, can be found in the Photographs series.
The Publications series(1985-2000) contains bookcards and pamphlets published by Sutcliffe.Â The series also contains a design proposal for and issues of Noticias, a journal she redesigned and printed and several issues of La Reata, a journal she edited. Additionally, a book of her poems, Iowa Lyric, and a newsletter The Front Porch, which is occasionally published by Sutcliffe on small town life are also included.Â A series of five hand-printed portfolio flower prints are shelved in closed stacks.Â Two books of family anecdotes as well as a few books for which Sutcliffe functioned as illustrator are shelved in the printed works collection.Â Memories of John W. Sutcliffe, written and told by his friends as compiled after his death February 5, 1997 completes the series.
The Writings series (1977-2003) contains a number of works that Sutcliffe wrote including her personal journal from 1977 to1978, an unpublished manuscript of poetry entitled Beneath Patchwork of Bright and Dark, translations of Lotte Lehman's poems and the script for Grandma Cherry's Spoon.
The Newspaper clippings series (1974-1989) contains clippings of articles written both about Sutcliffe and by her.
The Photographs series (1969-1989) contains a number of photographs (many byJoan Liffring-Zug) and slides documenting Sutcliffe's work with GreentreeEnterprises. They primarily consist of photographs of the Iowa Heritage Collectors plates as well as two photographsof the dolls Sutcliffe co-created with Lorraine Larsen and some photographs and slides of Sutcliffe's early tile work. The series also includes photographs of then Iowa senator Bill Winkelman (taken by Sutcliffe) and various personal portraits.
Access: The papers are open for research with the exception of the correspondence which is closed until January 15, 2041.
Use: Copyright has been retained by the donor and her heirs.
Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 121) were donated by Judith Ann Sutcliffe in 1994 and succeeding years.
Preferred Citation: Judith Sutcliffe papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.