Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Craft Background

It's been two weeks since my last post, oops! I meant to post more often than that, but I've been busy.

I'm finally happy with my layout...for now (plan to add pages and a custom header eventually). What do you think? (If anyone reads this, lol.)

And now the real reason for posting! My profile gives a good overview of who I am and what this blog is about, and my last post explains my personal life, so the only thing left to cover is my craft experience and what led me to start a jewelry business. I alluded to this in my last post, and the brief version is in my Etsy profile, but I thought it might be helpful to share it here too. I want this blog to be about more than my business, so this will give you some context, as well as an idea of what to expect in the future.

Self-portrait (unfinished)
I'm not sure when it started, but as long as I can remember, I've enjoyed making things. I've always been artistic; I got my ability from my mom, whose drawings were framed and hung up in our house. I still remember my favorite projects from first grade art class (which my parents saved all these years). I took private drawing and painting lessons as a child, and took the serious art classes in high school. I even did a summer program at Parsons in NYC.

I also have fond memories of my dad reading me children's books and fairytales. I know I love reading and writing because of him. Whenever my sister and I played together, I was the one making up the characters and stories (and bossing her around). I often wrote down these stories and illustrated them. I got really into cartoons and caricatures; I still have cartoon illustrations I did while reading Harry Potter (so watching the movies wouldn't ruin the way I first imagined the characters), and my dad's blog avatar is a caricature I drew of him when I was younger. I've since drawn his caricature in different situations for use on his blog and greeting cards, and will do more illustrations when he writes a book.

Hermione, mad at Ron
when he accused Crookshanks
of eating Scabbers
Various Harry Potter sketches -
click to enlarge
A scene from
Chamber of Secrets

Wooden car my grandpa made
My earliest memories of crafts involve my grandma. Growing up, I spent a lot of time at her house while my parents were at work. My grandma taught me how to sew and knit (and also how to bake and play piano - unfortunately those are the only skills I retained, but I want to learn the others again someday). I also have two crafty aunts who enjoy rubber stamping (among other things), and my grandpa did a lot of wood carvings. (And while we're listing talents, I also have a musician uncle and a photographer uncle.) I'm not surprised I turned out this way!

 High school is when I first combined art and fashion. I painted on shirts and doodled on my jeans. I also started making cards for friends' birthdays (with calligraphy on the envelopes - that was my thing, lol), then gifts such as candles, picture frames, and journals. I started scrapbooking when my husband (then boyfriend) and I became long distance. You can see samples of all these things in this Facebook album (most are old; I'll post new examples here when I have them).

In 2005, I started making jewelry, something I always wanted to try. It got even more fun when I discovered Shrinky Dinks and polymer clay. I love polymer clay mainly because you can make adorable miniature food charms, and I just love miniature things (I would love to own a giant dollhouse one day). Shrinky Dinks are really what I prefer to work with, though! Drawing on them is so relaxing, and when I use them for magnets, jewelry, etc., I don't feel like my art is being wasted just sitting in a drawer or something. Plus they shrink when you bake them (again, miniature=awesome) and I like to think my charms help my jewelry stand out.

People had been encouraging me to sell my work for years, and with jewelry I finally felt I had something people would buy. In 2006, I started my business, Made by Michelle. I tried Etsy for a bit but got nowhere, so I ran my own website and did ok there. After a few years, I took a break to focus on school, but now I'm back in business. Giving Etsy another chance now that I know so much more about networking. It's paying off, too! My shop's only been open a few weeks and I already had 3 sales. :)

So...there you go! That's my story. Posts coming soon: Etsy showcase review and Etsy success tips.


  1. That self-portrait is beautiful, Michelle. And your writing is pretty damn good too.

  2. Dan laughed at my descriptions on Etsy and said, "You really are just like your dad." I don't know how my descriptions of jewelry can be compared to your blog, but according to him, they can, and we write the same way.

  3. I am so happy to have found you and can't wait to see your jewelry!

  4. I envy your triple-threat talent, Michelle, in writing, art and crafts. And I'm glad to see you say "when" your dad writes a book. That should keep the pressure on him. ;-D

  5. Pretty neat. Glad to have found you. I will tel lmy friend Lynda who is very crafty.

  6. Hi Michelle!
    I found your link on Grace's Garden Walk...I love the earring you are giving away! Thank you!

  7. Hi! Grace from Grace's garden walk sent me to you!

    I love your designs they are so unique!