Today’s crafter reminds us that there’s more than one way to contribute to the handmade community. Melissa is a crafter and musician – part of a Canadian band, The Wilderness of Manitoba. Their newest album, When You Left The Fire, is set to be released on May 10th. As a way of giving back to the crafting community, her band has graciously offered to give away TWO copies of their latest release to our May Giveaway winner 🙂
But for now, a bit more about Melissa:
I like cats and dogs equally. One day, I'd love to have a couple of each.
The furthest that I've traveled from home was to SW China and I hope I get to go back sometime because it was a great trip.
I love pickles and olives.
And... I'm in a band called The Wilderness of Manitoba which is a full time thing for me though having time to make and create is still really important. I often sketch ideas for future projects or at the very least, find new materials to work with (stones, fabrics etc.) while on the road.
What got you started crafting?
I've always created art but working with beads and wanting to create my own custom settings was what set me in the path of jewelry-making. At the same time that I began design studies at the Ontario College of Art & Design, I started working at a silversmithing studio and learned about working with metal. I developed my skills in carving wax at the studio and then also learned about screen-printing and surface pattern design in school.
What is your source of inspiration?
Most of my pieces are directly inspired by animals. For a time I focused on flora and fauna from Manitoba (the great grey owl, prairie crocuses and bison) because I wanted things that were related to the namesake province of my band. Some of the things I've made have been inspired by folk music like Joni Mitchell's song 'Cactus Tree'. More recently, the new pieces that I'm working on are informed by geological rock formations and ancient tools/artifacts. I still have plans for a few more creatures, though!
What have you made recently?
The album artwork for my band's album was something that I spent a few weeks creating. It's a mixed media work of watercolour painting, disperse dye techniques, pattern design, hand screen-printed fabric with stitching and yarn woven on a loom all composited within Photoshop. The hand-stitched figures were made using a screen-print of a pattern that I made and I had some pieces woven on a loom that I thought might work on the cover.
Where do you sell your crafts presently?
I show/sell my jewelry work at a gallery/studio space in Toronto called The Devil's Workshop. I've also worked at the studio for almost 4 years as a shop/studio assistant and as a teacher of specialty workshops in beading, glass fusing, lost wax casting and sometimes silversmithing. I've done a bit of commission work for friends/family as well.
Why are handmade crafts important to you?
There are a lot of people who dream of creating for a living, I like to support people like that 'cause I'm one of them, too.