Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Answers To Your Questions... Revealed!

Last week you got to ask the questions, and today I'm going to answer them for you. Thanks so much to all who participated! Your questions were not only thoughtful but extremely thought-provoking! So, let's see what what makes this art chick tick...

Thredz wants to know... Do you dream of helping a family clean out grandma's attic? And they say, "this is junk, you can have whatever you want."?

Well thredz, I think you are inside my dreams because you've hit the nail on the head! I love going through other people's "junk" and when they let me have it for free, well... those are some of the happiest moments of my life! Not just because I love other people's discarded items, but because they trust me with these wonderful family "heirlooms". Even though they say it's junk, I think they still like the items... they just don't know what to do with them. But they believe that I do... and that means a lot to me.

Another reader wants to know... Where do you find the unique pieces you use for your artwork? Do you have a favorite spot?

I get the stuff I use in my art from several different places, including antique stores, yard sales, flea markets, rummage sales, and I even pick stuff up off the ground, take it out of the trash, and do a little dumpster diving! Because my price point tends to be between $1 and $5, my favorite place is a flea market that's about 15 minutes down the road, called Collingwood Auction. Their outdoor section has tables full of fabulous "junk" with a great variety and selection of merchandise. Several of the vendors even have $1 boxes! And it's open Friday Saturday and Sunday! How lucky am I?

Claudine Hellmuth said.... Hey! I love this piece in your Etsy shop. Can you explain more about your mold-making process? 

To make this clown embellishment, I used a plastic clown mold purchased at a local warehouse sale. I made the clown out of Paper Clay—which I love working with because it air dries in 24 hours and can be sanded, painted, even stained! First I guess how much clay it's going to take, then roll it into a nice tight ball. For this guy I actually make a little "offshoot" of clay for his nose, then press the clay into the mold—I mean really press it in there! I squish it into all the corners and crevices, and up onto the sides. The clay doesn't need to have a solid back, so as long as the entire piece is about 1/4" thick, you'll be fine. When I think it's done (I say think because you can't see what it looks like from the front when you're using a mold!), I'll trim the excess clay from the back with a flexible clay cutting tool. I leave it in the mold until it's totally dry. Then pop it out!
When these molds come out, sometimes they're not so pretty. There may be parts missing or cracks in the clay from not pressing it into the mold hard enough. But for the way I'm going to use it—an old timey vintage look—it works just fine. After I put the paint on and a light wash of brown acrylic to give it an aged look, the cracks and mistakes really add to the weather-worn look!

Teresa asks... What kind of music do you listen to? And how do you feel it relates to your art? Or does it?

Interesting! This one really made me think. I love all kinds of music from 50's Motown to 60's Woostock music... and then there's 70's rock and roll... 80's bubblegum music... 90's Seattle grunge and the "pop tart" hits of today! My taste in music really reflects my taste in art, as in... I can't choose just one! I like working on dolls, collage, assemblage, jewelry, fashion items, etc! In addition, I have many different styles of art, including... whimsical, folk, retro, vintage, a little demented, and more! See what I mean? And sometimes music—a particular song, actually—will influence a piece of art as well! When all is said in done, music is the soundtrack of my life... and as every moment changes and the plot thickens there's a perfect song for every scene!

mIzZ(hONeY)bEe would love to know... What gets your creative juices flowing and what do you do when you're creativity seems to be on hold?

Wow! I didn't realize how hard this question would be to answer until I actually had to think about it! Hmmmmm. I believe a large part of the inspiration for my art comes from actual objects... meaning the "junk" I hunt and collect! I'll usually look at something and either know exactly how I'll use it, or know that I love it so much I have to have it. If I know exactly how I'll use it, I may start on the intended project the next day. Or it may sit until I can no longer contain my enthusiasm and must work on it at all costs! If I don't know how I'll use the object, it kind of gets filed in the back of my brain until I find another object that can utilize the first object and then... voilà! When neither of those processes are in place, and I'm feeling totally uninspired... I'll sort through all my junk and organize it. Inevitably I will run across an object I already had that makes me think of something I'd like to work on!

Kim—who is always interested in an artists inspirations, influences, and processes—had the question... When starting a new piece of art, is it mostly/all created in your head before you physically make it?

My particular way of creating art is rather organic, unfolding as I go along. I usually know the first few steps and then take it from there. Like for my conjoined folk art twins... I knew I would make the body out of muslin, add movable arms, create the heads with paper clay and use died wool for the hair. Everything else evolved on it's own. Like, I wasn't sure if I would make clothes for them, or paint them on. I didn't even know that Tillie's brother would be named Willie or that they'd be holding balloons, or that the twins would end up in a shadowbox filled with Christmas tree lights!  It's funny, because I always refer to myself as a "recovering perfectionist" but the unpredictability of "how is this piece going to turn out... and where will it take me?" really appeals to me when it comes to art. I think it's practice for life.... because no matter how often we try to control the outcome of a situation, it's going to turn out how it turns out. So why not play along?

And, Steph wants to know... Are you making any fun new projects for summer?

As a matter of fact Steph, I have some new ideas swirling in my head! One of them involves a fun combination of cotton candy art and jewelry! Another project has to do with a vintage gumball machine and one of my favorite subjects... Tillie! And I might even make some more sideshow banners! But regardless of what I end up working on, I have come to the conclusion that I like to create several different types of art. So, rather than trying to stick to just one discipline (collage, dolls, jewelry, etc.) I am going to stick to a theme instead. That way I can satisfy the many facets of my creative urges! So in the very near future... carnival, circus and boardwalk-themed projects are what you'll be seeing more of. For now!

Thanks again to everyone who posed a question for me! This was tons of fun to do. And just so you know... I am here to answer your questions anytime! xoxox


  1. Great Idea, great questions, great answers! I enjoyed this post!

  2. Hey Michelle... GREAT post...so funny the questions I asked ~ I kinda have happening now...but honestly I think I have too many ideas running through my mind and I don't know how to grab hold and work with one ughhhh...I loved all your answers to our questions this was a really neat & informative ...and I LOVED the photos/pics that you added too... Happy Junking, Treasure Finding & CREATING...have a honey of a night ~ sweet dreams! Marlene ;O)

  3. Thanks for sharing Michelle! Great post!


Hello, and thanks for taking the time to visit my blog! Your thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated!

Please feel free to post any questions you may have and I will answer in the same thread.


michelle renee bernard