All Dolls Are Art is pleased to have Michelle Lord as a new to us teacher in 2015! Michelle started making dolls after discovering a cloth doll book in 2006 and has had the pleasure of being first a student and then a mentee of Mary Tressler. Michelle has taken what she has learned in her journey with Mary to create her own unique dolls, submitting them to and winning ribbons for them from the State Fair of Texas, and exhibiting them in gallery shows in Texas and Pennsylvania. Michelle loves the creative outlet that art dolls and fabric provide her. She feels at home because it is possible to keep adding layers until she achieves what she wants. Michelle says “Fabric is very forgiving and you can do just about anything you want with it.”.
Michelle is teaching The Gaudy Angel, a two-day cloth doll class for all skill levels.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Thanks for taking the time for this interview Michelle! First, tell me what kind of dolls you create and what draws you to this type of sculpture?
Michelle: Thanks Amy! I do eclectic cloth dolls. I enjoy being able to sculpt fabric with thread and stuffing. My dolls are fairly realistic, but are caricatures of interesting people I have seen on TV or movies, people I think it would be fun to be, or just the character the dolls decides she wants to be.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Where did you start your artistic journey Michelle? Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Michelle: I was an artist when I was younger, but was told by an art teacher I had no talent, so stopped doing art until my 30s. I tried everything from painting, stained glass, ceramics, etc., but then in 2006 I found a book on cloth doll making and I was hooked. The next year I took a class with Mary Tressler and have been making dolls ever since. I loved how I could use several of the art techniques I enjoyed, sewing, painting, quilting, etc., to make one piece of art.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Where do you find artistic inspiration? Do you keep an idea book or journal?
Michelle: Watching movies and TV are great resources to find inspiration. I also have an art journal, but do not use it as much as I would like to. I also keep an idea book in my purse so when inspiration comes to me I can write it down before I forget, which it seems the older you get the less you remember…
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: I can certainly relate to that, but in my case, I call it work-related A.D.D. Describe your process for starting a new piece. Do you know exactly how your pieces will turn out before you start sculpting/painting or do you allow your creation to develop as you work?
Michelle: I normally have a pattern that I start with, but they never seem to turn out the same way. I have a way of getting started and then the doll tells me what she wants to wear or be, so then I have to make her happy. I have never been one that enjoys drawing a straight line.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Yes, I think many of us artists are color-outside-the-lines types. Do you believe you have a muse? If so, how does your muse express his/herself? What happens when you attempt to ignore your muse?
Michelle: I believe everyone has a muse; we just don’t listen to them. There are times in which the ideas just flow but if I don’t listen then they stop until I give my muse some attention. A person just needs to take the time to figure out when their muse is speaking and then listen.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Describe a day in your studio, when you have no other obligations.
Michelle: I pull out my different containers of lace, embellishments, fabrics, etc. and see what works or gives me inspiration. Once I have my materials out it is time to start working on the pattern, deciding which fabric for the body, and once that is decided it is time to sew. Most of the time though I have projects stacked up on my sewing table and end up working on those so I can get to the bottom of the stack.
I keep a sketch pad and drawing materials next to my bed and in my purse I have a small travel art kit so I can draw, sketch, or work on projects at any time. If I know there is a project I am needing to work on I will work around my schedule to make sure I have time in the studio.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: The sketch pad by your bed and in your purse is a brilliant idea! Describe an idea that you have that is yet to be born. What is keeping you from starting?
Michelle: I have all sorts of ideas in my head, dolls I want to make, characters that need to come to fruition. One of the big reasons they are not started is I am trying to get to the bottom of the stack of WIPs.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Do you participate in a regular art gathering, crit group, or other face to face meeting for the purpose of discussing your sculpture or creating it?
Michelle: I used to be part of a local doll club, but they disbanded several years ago. I have not found another one near me. I would love to be part of a group on my area, as I feel you need to have that interaction with others of like minds who understand what you are doing. Friends and loved ones try to show interest, but they don’t understand how the dolls talk to you, where the inspiration comes from, and what really goes on in that head of yours.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Yes, I completely agree! Well, now for the last question! What is your favorite part of teaching?
Michelle: I must admit this is one of my first classes that I will be teaching in person. I have been teaching through the internet, how to books, and such for a while now. I know what I enjoyed best in classes I have been in is the interaction between teacher and students, the ability to help a student in person, let them watch over my shoulder, and the interaction.
Amy, AnLiNa Designs: Thanks so much Michelle! I’m very excited to have you at ADAA this year. I know that you will enjoy yourself immensely!
For more information on Michelle’s class, The Gaudy Angel, access her page in the Workshops section of the website!