nism: Hi, I’m Nathan Stapleton-McKinzie. I’ve always loved to draw and paint. I studied painting for a while in Carbondale, Illinois. From there I spent some time Upstate New York where I was represented by the Varga Gallery. At the moment I am working as a Freelance Designer/Flash Animator and living in the Windy City of Chicago. I love coffee and working on art late into the night.
Janice Hagey-Schmidt: From a young age I was going to the library checking out craft techniques. I used to paint metal shapes and glass bottles as a kid. Later I progressed to throwing pots and bowls on a wheel. I was thrilled with the use of underglazes on porcelain. And then… one day I took a metalsmithing class at a community college. I have been working mainly with metal ever since. But… I make my living as a graphic designer. Metalsmithing is my art.
Michele Banks is a self-taught painter from Washington, DC who specializes in the sometimes-maligned medium of watercolor. Although images of sweet landscapes and precious flowers may spring to mind when thinking of watercolors, Michele’s paintings are nothing like that.
She uses pigment, paper, and water to interpret and replicate natural phenomena. Just like the divisions of a cell, how water and paint behaves on paper can sometimes be predicted, but very rarely controlled.
Although Michele has always found science to be mentally and visually fascinating, she is not a scientist herself. Her corporate career was interrupted twelve years ago when her husband’s job moved their family to Bermuda. Michele started making collages and paintings, and sold a few through galleries on the tiny island.
Living in the tropics inspired her first conscious efforts at creating art, but really the urge had just been laying dormant for years. Michele clearly remembers decorating her first post-collegiate cubicle with collages created from comic books and bits of pretty ephemera.
Some of her artwork is still about collage making, but watercolors play an important role in those works as well. When a painting doesn’t work out, Michele tears them up, focusing on the colors and patterns, and reshapes them into a new piece.
Her favorite medium is watercolor because it suits her personality. Its properties require one to work fast, and to commit to brush strokes, while accepting the fact that complete control is simply not an option.
Her medical and biological themed work came about accidentally, while experimenting with various effects of watercolors and combining colors. A customer of hers remarked that one of her paintings looked remarkably like organisms under a microscope, “only friendlier.”
The idea of depicting natural processes and phenomena with watercolor was planted, and Michele ran with it.
Michele’s cell division and heart rhythm series are meant to be artistic interpretations of natural patterns and processes, that are literally at the root of life. Michele does not intend to make her paintings completely scientifically accurate, but she has found most medical professionals see something they recognize in her work.
Michele paints in a variety of sizes and colors. Her paintings are all one-of-a-kind original watercolors, not prints. Her bio-medical watercolors can be found online at her Maker’s Market storefront, and her collage work can be found in her Etsy shop. Michele also displays her work year-round at DC-area art fairs and craft shows.
When I was a kid, we got in the car and drove my dad out to a nearby town to take a hot air balloon ride. I remember watching the balloons gliding through the sky. These earrings remind me of that day.
Elle got started in handmade when she was struggling with depression and loneliness. Jewelry-making was her way to be totally immersed in something that was not only positive, but kept her mind off of what she was going through. She fell in love with jewelry making and never looked back. Her style incorporates vintage pieces with modern beads.
Encouraged by friends and family she jumped into selling through her shop Elle’s Beads. After taking a blind leap, she learned as she went setting up up a business strategy, goals, and a budget.
I’ve met such great artisans, both in real life and through venues like Etsy, and I feel like I have a sense of community and belonging now.
Elle’s grandmother is a huge influence. She uses her antique sewing machine and vintage buttons to make a lot of her creations. She’s also inspired by items that people cast away as trash. She has a way of viewing things not as what they are, but what they could become with a little bit of fabric, paint, or beads. She’s also started sewing now due to her grandmother’s influence (she was a seamstress) and makes a point to only use eco-friendly materials in the accessories she makes.
My favorite item is my Vintage Sapphire and Silver Glass Pearl Necklace. It’s the first eco-friendly piece I ever made and it’s from an old vintage earring I repurposed as a brooch. I’m really passionate now about reusing old materials and making them into something beautiful and new. This necklace is a constant reminder to me of the beginning of that journey.
Elle supports the views that many of us handmade artisans have, even though handmade goods can cost more than mass-produced goods, especially those imported from overseas, they’re so much more valuable! When you buy something handmade, you’re supporting an artisan – a small business and an entrepreneur. You’re supporting a craft and a subculture that values the importance of keeping craftsmanship alive. Each handmade item is a little bit different and Elle, like all handmade artists puts her love and a part of herself in every piece.
These adorable vintage birdies are my personal favorite!
Elle is a full-time paralegal working for a non-profit in North Carolina. When not working at her day job or on her business, you can find her relaxing in front of the television, catching up on the latest book club book, or talking on the phone with her family. Online you can find her on Facebook, Twitter and her blog.
The hubby and I recently relocated from our one room studio to a two-bedroom house. It is, for the most part, married bliss. There’s nothing like having more than one bathroom to keep a marriage strong. However, there is one major drawback to the home: plaster walls. Those familiar with plaster will know that it is messy at best, crumbling and cracking at worst. We’ve got a bit of both. Short of repairing the walls and throwing on some new paint, I don’t want to stick anything bigger than a nail in these 60-year-old walls.
So what do we do? I want to decorate, but I’d rather not hang heavy sconces and shelves, only to come home to a hole in my wall the size of Texas. Thankfully, alternative inspiration came to the rescue! We were at a TMBG concert this past weekend, and the boys from the band were handing out window clings. Remember those lil clingy bits of plastic we used to buy from school magazines and stick on the bathroom mirror? I grew up and forgot, but luckily there are enough people in the world that grew up and remembered.
I am absolutely in love with that birch forest by Wall Decors. It would look smashing in a living room or entrance hall. The best part is, like those old school window clings, they’re non-destructive and easily removed. So even if you don’t have a lick of patience for painting and gluing you’ll be able to get this mighty forest up in your living room with no hassle.
There’s another caveat to married life that I failed to account for: the mighty french rooster. Every Italian kitchen has a rooster, of some shape or variety, sitting on the counter. Our house is small, so is the kitchen. We need every ounce of space we can get. However, as a good Italian homemaker I can’t let my kitchen go chickenless for long.
Chuck E Byrd Wall Art to the rescue! This mighty rooster would be proud to grace any kitchen wall. The variety of color options ensure a proper match for even the most eclectic kitchen.
We’re still enjoying the “honeymoon stage” of our marriage, but I’m sure there are quite a few readers out there with little bundles of joy along the way. It feels like all of my friends are having kids, and I’m either running to showers or singing at first birthdays.
Wouldn’t that tree by Original Walls look darling in your little girl’s room? Not to be outdone, there are a plethora of boy’s options too, from full-blown motorcycles to monkeys swinging in the trees. We all eventually hit the age where we want to decorate and define our own space, and wouldn’t it be so much easier if the beautiful mural of a horse was easily applied and removed, instead of repainting the entire room?
If you’re looking for something a little more gender neutral, I’m a big fan of these lights by Pop Decors. They’re a bit unusual in the best way. I’m particularly keen on the two little winged lights.
Vinyl wall art compared to paint and stencil is considerably more time and user-friendly. I can’t paint a circle to save my life, but I sure as anything can put a sticker on the wall. Remember these work best on clean, even surfaces, and don’t like being put on and pulled off too many times.
If you have cracks in your wall or ceiling (like I do) be sure to repair those before putting up any paint or decals. This way you’re not avoiding a potentially bigger issue. I know it’s tempting, but even though it may be pretty, if it’s hiding a problem it’s only a big ol’ band-aid.