Meet Michelle an energetic and geek-loving crafter with a really fun and unique style. She creates embroidery and cross stitch pieces with a ‘slightly different twist,’ as she calls it. Take a look at her amazing work and read more below.
Name: Michelle Neal
Where you’re from: I was born in Georgia and grew up in Maryland.
Where you live/work now: Carlisle, PA
Art/craft medium/materials: Anything involving needle and thread- mainly embroidery and cross stitch.
Links: etsy shop, deviantART page, facebook
How did you get your start in the art/craft world? My mother was always making things- how she found the time to cook, clean, work outside AND knit dresses for my My Little Ponies, I will never know. I remember this crocheted couch throw she had made, it was delicate and lacy, but instead of flowers or some other stereotypical design you would find on something like that, it was sharks. I think that’s where my interest in making things with a slightly different twist was born.
What is a typical day like for you (how/when do you find time to craft?) Well, unfortunately, I have a day job to pay the bills, so this means my crafting time gets really cut into. Lucky for me, embroidery pieces are very easy to carry around. So if I know I might have some down time at work, I can dig into my bag and pull out my latest embroidery piece and work on it. Other than that, my weekends end up getting filled with crafting time.
Where is your studio located? I have a studio in my house, which of course I never use. Right now it’s just the home to all of my supplies. I mainly work in my living room in front of my computer, so that I can watch mindless television shows or listen to music while I stitch. I also have these huge windows by my desk, so I can look at my Japanese Maple tree while I’m working. Speaking of which, now that it is getting nicer out, I plan on setting up a work area outside so that I can enjoy the weather and listen to the birds while I work. I’m very lucky in that my backyard overlooks state gamelands, so I don’t have to look at other houses or cars, just trees and animals.
What inspires you? Anything strangely beautiful is an inspiration to me. Scott Radke makes these amazing sculptures of creatures that look so forlorn and somewhat creepy, I love it! There is another sculptor, Amanda Lousie Spayd, who makes these incredible creatures with big eyes and teeth. Her work just amazes me, and really inspires me to create my own pieces of art. I am also inspired by nature, specifically trees and plants. The beauty you find in just looking at one little flower, all of the intricate details and gorgeous colors really inspires me to create beautiful things.
What are you working on now/next? I have recently started working on a type of embroidery that is referred to as needlepainting. Right now, I am working on a Medusa themed piece, and I’m hoping to do some other creatures of mythology. I would love to do a large mural completely with hand embroidery, I think that is my next major goal with my craft. But for now, I’m doing smaller pieces of embroidery, and I’m working on pieces for upcoming indie art craft shows that I’m hoping to get into.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out? Always make things that will make you happy, and things that you want to see. Getting caught up in trying to make things that you think other people will like, or making things just to make money will destroy your artistic drive. And just have fun! Art is about expressing yourself on your own terms. And don’t be too hard on yourself about your work. I fall into that a lot, and I try not to be too critical of myself. Just make art and be happy.Carrie is an artist, illustrator, graphic designer and eco-crafter in the Harrisburg area. She has a passion for upcycling, recycling and repurposing almost everything. Carrie is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a BFA in fine art. She lives in New Cumberland with her husband and their elephant disguised as cat, named Ellie. Discover her etsy shop, Facebook page and online portfolio.