Michelle’s Words

In Interview on December 10, 2012 at 5:13 pm


Michelle Hill is a kind, creative person that I hope to run into more often. I met her at ArtPool’s Craft Fest this past summer. I thought it’d be fun to make some feather hair clips and attend the Festival as a vendor. Michelle bought one with a large vintage button, saying that she’d made a sale and that meant she could purchase something. She mostly sews and prints colorful pillows and accessories on Etsy using found and vintage objects that you can find here. But without further ado, here are her lovely words.

When did you fist pick up a sewing needle?
When I was little, my mom used to make a lot of my clothes. At age 7 and 8 I was interested in the fashion that I saw on television worn by a lot of my favorite musicians on this show called ‘Solid Gold’. So I would try to get her to make me sequined tops and funny pants. Of course nothing came out looking glamorous. She made me tops trimmed with ruffles in eyelet and wide pants with elastic waists and big pockets. When I was in 4th grade I begged her to show me how to sew, but she said that she didn’t have the patience. So I started to hand stitch little bags with big crooked stitches. I remember carrying one of those bags to school with pride. By middle school we had Home Ec. classes, so I learned how to sew on a machine and I started to make myself some pretty funny clothes. I loved Madonna back then and I was really into altering my clothing. I cut and ripped a lot and bleached and splattered. I also made these baggie dresses and skirts that I would tie up on the bottom.

Did you like to draw as a kid, or do these characters and doodles originate in the form they’re currently in, stamped and sewn?

As I kid I loved to draw. My brother and I would watch this guy named Captain Bob early Saturday mornings. He would teach us how to draw animals.  My brother always did well. I didn’t think that I could draw as well. But I loved the idea of art and drawing and making things. I remember spending a lot of time by myself making things in my room. I also  remember that when we would go on family vacations I would always be drawing to keep myself entertained. I remember drawing a lot of  fashion illustrations. I would fill pages and pages of paper with pictures of dresses and funny shoes. I think for a period as I got older I stopped drawing as much. For a while I was all doom and gloom and sat around listening to music in my room and that’s it. I started to realize that I should continue to draw and make. So while I was a teen, I started to take art classes and continued it into college. The printing didn’t come about until much later. It started slowly with a class in monoprint and over time I studied silkscreen, then etching and woodblock and relief. Etching is by far my favorite form of printmaking. I enjoy the depths of light and lines but it is not something you can usually do at home because it requires chemicals and a press. About 4 years ago I started making bags and repurposing clothing with my prints and embellishments. At the same time I came across a book by Lotta Jansdotter which really inspired me to do what I’m doing now.


What do you enjoy about crafting your own things? 

Everything I make is one of a kind. Each piece may have an element of another, but everything I make should be different. I like the idea of the individuality of each piece. Sometimes I will make something that will remind me of a person I met or a time or place. Sometimes I think of the person who might buy it and imagine what they will do with the piece or who it will go to. I really enjoy putting fabrics together with my own printed pieces. I love using found parts like vintage buttons or beads or parts of old clothes. They are good memories that I hope to pass on.


Do you often give the things you make away or as gifts?

 I love to give away things that I make. I think that is why it took me so long to actually do what I do. I am kind of humble and the idea of taking money for my work sometimes still freaks me out. It really freaked me out when I first started doing [craft] shows. I made my husband do all of the business and I just made the art. Now I feel better about it and know that people wouldn’t buy my stuff if they didn’t like it. But I definitely love to give things away and make special items for friends and family. Usually when someone purchases an item on Etsy, I will throw in something extra. Who doesn’t like surprises?

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? 

Many years ago, a friend started giving me mixtapes for my birthday. He labeled them ‘Michelle Mixes’. I must have at least 8 or 9. In fact, I keep a basket full of the mixes that friends have given me over the years. Many of these mixes are full of old punk rock that you can’t get on iTunes and I still keep a tape player in my studio to play them. The music brings back good memories of such good friends and times.

Is there a medium you’d like to work in but haven’t yet?
I love films and would love to make a short film. Years ago a filmmaker friend gave me Super 8 film to do just that. I tried to make a film where I was collecting light and patterns caused by light. I defeated myself by thinking that I wouldn’t be able to get the film developed, so I think it’s half done in the camera. I also enjoy listening to environmental sounds and would like to do something with sound. I guess it may have nothing to do with what I do now, but wouldn’t it be great if I could attempt to mix it all?

Of course you’re much more than your fabric creations! Where else can you be seen working and doing? 

When I’m not making things I’m wrangling up the future ne’er do wells of the world. Just kidding. I work with preschool age children trying to get them ready for kindergarten. It is a big challenge since many of my kids come from unstructured and unreliable homes. Many of my days are stressful because there’s alot of arguing and nitpicking going on. But I know the kids can’t help it, this is what they know. Everything usually turns out wonderful as the day progresses.

Where and who would you say you draw inspiration from?
I find inspiration from everything. On Etsy I have a huge list of favorites. I am amazed by all of the wonderful artists that are out there. When I come up with images for my own prints I tend to look at patterns in nature and architecture. I also love Zakka Style. And when all else fails, I will ask my son for help.


What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

As corny as it sounds, the most important lesson I’ve learned is: don’t give up. Keep working and keep building upon your ideas and visions. When I look at what I did just  4 years ago I do see the progress. I like that.

Finish these sentences:

I would love to… make a small line of clothing. (Or walk across the country.)
I’ll never… stop daydreaming. 
I enjoy when… people are genuinely interested  in what I do.  
Sundays are for… waking up early, coffee and enjoying the silence.

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