Featured Crafter Friday

February 15, 2008 - 7:00am

Featured Crafter

I want to introduce you to Melanie Muenchinger! She is an amazing crafter and artist! Please take a bit of time and visit her website. You will not be disappointed. Melanie has two wonderful stamp sets which are sold by Gina K Designs. Just So Hippy and Just So Hoppy, which just released this week. Here are a couple pictures of them!

Featured Crafter

Featured Crafter

I also wanted to let Melanie tell you a little more about herself in her own words.

I'm a SAHM with two young boys, and crafting is a terrific way to enjoy some "me time". I really enjoyed being a Stampin' Up! demonstrator the past five years, but during the last year, especially, I felt something was missing. That there was something else I was supposed to be doing with my art. A class at my church on "Art & Faith" gave me some perspective on this, and I began praying earnestly about what place art had in my life, something I had never even thought to pray about before. What soon followed, I feel, is something of a "Cinderella story"! God certainly opened a door with Gina K Designs, and I'm so blessed to be working for her, designing my own stamps, as well as creating cards with all her other releases for the design gallery! I look forward to our brainstorming sessions each month, as we trade ideas, and when a set suddenly falls into place in its every detail, it is such a satisfying, rewarding experience. I don't think anything could have prepared me better for what I'm doing now than stamping the last five years with literally HUNDREDS of sets has: not only have I learned what works in a design, what things are necessary to create a good "complete" set, but most importantly, what will just be FUN for stampers to create with!

I also asked Melanie a few questions I thought would be fun to hear answers to.

How did you get started with crafts?
As far as stamping and cardmaking, I went to an SU! workshop 5 years ago. It was like something out of movie: I could practically see the heavens opening up and shining down on the table with a hallelujah chorus in the background! I fell instantly in love with the art form.

Before stamping, I had really only drawn. My mom likes to brag I could draw a perfect "Piglet" from Winnie the Pooh when I was two. I'd also always enjoyed cutting and pasting and working with paper for school projects, making dioramas and posters etc. The first contest I ever won for my artwork was the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in third grade (a pastel drawing of a cowboy mouse).

How much time per day do you spend on your crafts? Is it enough? :)
Before I started blogging and stamp designing, it would vary. I could get really inspired and make a ton of things over a few days, and then my desk would be so messy as a result(as well as getting behind on everything else!), I'd have to shut the door for a couple weeks! Now that I'm designing my own stamps, I do spend a few hours every day between creating and posting with my current set and working on my next set. Fortunately, brainstorming can take place while driving, running errands, and drawing my images while I'm sitting with my kids in the sandbox! So I'm lucky it doesn't all have to be at the desk. I have a feeling when BOTH my boys are in school, it will be 8-2:30 M-F!

"Is it enough?" is difficult to answer: I'd enjoy it being MORE, I suspect my family and messy house would say it should be LESS, for what I'm trying to accomplish with getting my stamps out there, JUST RIGHT! ;)

What is your favorite craft item to use or project to make?
I don't ever want to be without my dimensionals, glue dots, glitter or ribbon! I have to say the best investment I think I've made is my Cuttlebug. Being able to emboss with all those gorgeous, INEXPENSIVE folders, AND having the ability to die cut (I just completed my Nestabilities collection) is truly AMAZING! If you like crafting with paper, you simply must go for it! (or similar product, there are many brands but this is what I got and it works for me :)

I love making the 3D items and things that move/are interactive, but as a lazy crafter I don't make them as often as I should! People might be surprised to know that no matter how well I feel a concept I've created "works", I almost never make another one! (There's only been one "baby cradle", insert just about any other project I've made HERE!) This year I sent out 85 completely unique Christmas cards!) I just have too many other ideas I want to try out, gotta move on to the next one!

Where do you get your inspiration (for your stamp creating or card making)?
Everywhere! Nature, my kids, just life in general. I usually approach my cards like a puzzle or with a question: "What would happen if...?" "How can I...?" It's just a challenge to see if I can make something work. As a stamper, I've always constantly looking to make seemingly unrelated things fit together, maybe because I'm a bit of a square peg myself! There have always been and will always be people who are MUCH more talented at making cards that are more visually appealing than I can. But I do try to offer something unique! On my site, you should expect the unexpected!

As far as stamp designing, animals were the best place for me to start. I began drawing them when I was little, wearing clothes, doing "people" things. I loved capturing their expressions and the things that seem so "human" about them. It had always been a dream of mine to illustrate children's books, and my favorite illustrators/influences growing up were Mercer Mayer, Maurice Sendak, Dr. Seuss, Sandra Boynton, and classic Disney. My dream changed slightly when I got the opportunity to illustrate in rubber! Keep turning out for Gina K releases and you'll soon have every animal (fully accessorized!) under the sun to play with! I can draw other subjects in other styles, however, so I'm hoping to be able to share that artwork with everyone in the future. I don't go anywhere now without a pen and paper, an idea worth saving to explore later can come at any time!

Do you have any advice for fellow crafters out there? Words of wisdom, perhaps? :)
I didn't start stamping until I was 30. My first cards were NOT GOOD! There are so many amazing samples online, and looking at other people's work and imitating the things I especially liked about my favorite crafters' cards in the beginning helped me to be more successful with my layouts and colors, until I felt comfortable creating on my own. You've got to start somewhere, and if you imitate the very best elements of what appeals to you, your own "style" will emerge. My cards improved dramatically, so I recommend others try that, too! The internet is such a valuable resource (but if you're reading this, I probably don't need to tell you that!)

I hate to tell anyone to spend more money, but having more "stuff" to play with can definitely take your cards to that next level. (See my answer above for the cheap solutions, along with the pricey!) I think crafters can be very frustrated when comparing their work to some designers': it's often not just the level of experience that separates them, but the amount of "bling" they've been able to acquire and add to their cards! (Having said that though, a truly stunning card can, of course, be done with almost no supplies, if it's done correctly! Simple elegance, and knowing when to stop "piling it on", takes a great amount of talent to achieve, I would use Kurtis Amundsen as an example of this: minimal and "just right". So viewing and trying out the Limited Supply Challenges on Splitcoast are excellent ways to
see what can be done with very little.) Addititionally, the more media you try out, the better you will be able to find what you most enjoy working with and what gives you the best results. And this won't be the same for everybody! It's not just the product, it's how you are capable of working with it. An example of this for me has been an Aquapainter and watercolor crayons. I'm not the best at shading, but I've had pretty good luck with these because they are so easy to blend. I haven't tried Copics yet, but I'm tempted!

Finally, I hadn't really drawn anything for my own enjoyment in over 20 years. As a teenager, I had many problems with self esteem, and art was a gift I put away in a box for a long, long time. Looking back, for many years I was "creatively dead", so to speak, and because this is such a big part of who I fundamentally am, I was very unhappy. Thank goodness I discovered stamping and remembered how much I need to create, like I need air, or water! So whether you stamp, draw, paint, sculpt, write, whatever, and your hearts sings when you do it, you must do it! Whether you can earn a living doing it or only create for yourself, whether you are naturally talented or not, you should find time for it, develop it, and allow yourself to experience that joy of expressing what is inside you. If you've never done any crafts before and have until now just "lurked" these sites, I think it's time to see what you can do!

Here are just a few examples of Melanie's great work! She has so many innovative ideas...and how cool to create things with your own sets of stamps!

Featured Crafter

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I hope you have enjoyed meeting Melanie and Featured Crafter Friday. If you would like to be featured, please send me an email! I would be more than happy to include you! See you next Friday for another wonderful crafter!

Thank you very much, Andi

Posted by Melanie Muenchinger (not verified) on February 15, 2008 - 7:07am

Thank you very much, Andi for the opportunity! I enjoyed your questions!

Hi Melmel... okay, i really

Posted by Catherine (not verified) on February 15, 2008 - 1:54pm

Hi Melmel... okay, i really don't know her and vice versa. But I remember browsing through SCS gallery for the first time couple of years ago and seeing her work (MELMEL) and i think added most of her work into my favs and just couldn't wait until i see her next cards/creation. And when she started blogging and having her own stamps (which i own already), I would have to stay i've been a fan and a stalker (in a good way,though). Mel, i'm so happy for you.

Melanie's Interview

Posted by LuvLee (not verified) on February 15, 2008 - 3:29pm

What a wonderful interview! I agree.....Melanie is such a talented artist!! I really enjoyed getting to know her a little better and love the fact that she's so encouraging to newer stampers!! Thanks!!

Melanie Rocks!!

Posted by Jessie/knightrone (not verified) on February 15, 2008 - 5:05pm

I absolutely love both of Melanie's sets, even though I still don't have the Hoppy set, I guess I love the thought of it. She is a wonderfully talented person, and is super sweet on top of that!!! Thanks for featuring her!! You Rock Melanie!!


Posted by barb schram (not verified) on February 15, 2008 - 9:13pm

Wonderful interview...my first time to your sight, Andi. What a great idea to interview crafters! Can't wait to get ink to Just so Hoppy, got in the mail today! Keep creating, Melanie. I continue to be in awe of your talent!

Yeah Mel! You are fantastic

Posted by Carolyn King (not verified) on February 15, 2008 - 9:32pm

Yeah Mel! You are fantastic ---a fantastic person, designer, illustrator and friend!!!

A great article on a very worthy crafter!

What a fabulous choice,

Posted by Charmaine (not verified) on February 16, 2008 - 11:12am

What a fabulous choice, Andrea! I LOVE Melanie's work and it was a pleasure to "get to know her" more!

Melanie rocks my world!

Posted by Linsey (not verified) on February 16, 2008 - 4:21pm

I am thrilled to see Melanie Muenchinger featured this week! She is an absolutely amazing talent and inspiration to me and so many others--I know this for sure! Her stamps are the most fun to create with and have endless possibilities! I LOVE her and I love that she has shared her awesomeness with the world...what would we have ever done without her Hippy and Hoppy (and who knows wonderful designs are to come)stamps?! Thank you for honoring one of my most favorite artistic heroines! Great interview!

yay, Melanie!

Posted by Susan Lilles (susiestampalot) (not verified) on February 16, 2008 - 7:13pm

What a fabulous story! Melanie, you are a great stamp designer--I am so happy for you that it's going well with Gina K. Love her!!
Off to play some more with my Hoppy set!!