Kathleen Elliot was born in 1958 to a working class family from the tiny town of Mogadore, Ohio. Her parents relocated to Silicon Valley, California in 1960 and she's resided there since. Elliot's spirit of curiosity has led her through a life of uncommon experiences.
After leaving home she lived in a hippy commune for nearly two years. At 23, Elliot earned a cosmetology degree, which led to a seven year career as a hairstylist. She participated in various new age programs such as the est Training, communication workshops, etc. For six years beginning in 1985, Elliot worked and studied with philosopher and entrepreneur Dr. Fernando Flores, and in 1992 she began studying with business philosopher Toby Hecht. She twice single-man kayaked through the Grand Canyon. These years were a time of profound philosophical and spiritual expansion including ten years of study and practice with a shaman, ten years studying A Course in Miracles, and the rare opportunity to meet and work with Carlos Castenada and his witches. Three decades later, Elliot is still engaged in much of this study and practice.
In 1991, during a seven year stint in the high tech industry, an invitation from a friend to try glasswork in his garage became a life-changing epiphany. Elliot took up the hobby of making glass beads through the centuries-old technique of lampworking or flameworking. Over eight years, with the guidance of bead making books, Elliot learned an array of bead making techniques that formed the foundation for her future sculptural projects.
In 2000, at the age of 42, Elliot was accepted to Pilchuck Glass School, founded in 1971 by artist Dale Chihuly. During three consecutive summers she studied with world-class artists Laura Donefer, Robert Mickelsen and Shane Fero. After her study with Fero in 2003, Elliot shifted from glass beadmaking to her "Botanica" sculptures — three dimensional tromp l'oeile depicting intricately detailed botanical life. In late 2006, having established herself in the glass world with her botanical sculptures, Elliot shifted her attention to making botanical life from alternate realities. She credits an otherworldly experience as the catalyst for taking her work outside the representational appearance of her sculptures. For three days in early 2007 she had the experience that Castenada's spirit was with her in her studio, urging her to step further outside of ordinary reality. The piece that emerged from those three days was "I Wonder Where Castenada Landed".
Elliot's first solo exhibition was in 2006 at Traver Gallery in Tacoma, WA. That same year she was featured on the cover of American Style Magazine's "Nine Craft Artists to Watch". Her work has earned numerous awards including a NICHE Student Award in 2005, and a NICHE Award in 2006, visiting artist presentation at the San Jose Museum of Art in 2006, Proclamation of commendation by Cupertino Mayor Dolly Sandoval in 2008, Hans Godo Frabel Award in 2009, Professional Artist in Residence at Pilchuck Glass School in 2010. Elliot served on the Board of Directors of the Glass Alliance of Northern California 2005-2007, she's been a juried member of the National Association of Women Artists since 2009, she taught at Pilchuck Glass School in 2012, and she has served on the Board of Directors of the Bay Area Glass Institute since 2011. Her work is in several prominent collections including the Oakland Museum of California, the Weyerhauser collection, Irvin J. Borowsky and Laurie Wagman, and Ted and Melissa Lagreid.
Within the glass art community, Elliot is considered amongst the most significant contemporary flameworkers. She was one of twenty artists in the Oakland Museum of California's "Playing With Fire: Artists of the California Studio Glass Movement" in 2012.
Elliot now has a history of exhibitions in museums, art centers and galleries across the U.S., with one of her shows traveling at time of writing, scheduled through 2015.