Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In the Michigan Studio with Backward Glances and a Giveaway


 Welcome to the first in my occasional series of interviews with Michigan artists. Today I'm pleased to be in the Michigan studio of Kelly Dorman, an incredible bead artist with a unique and historical perspective to her work.

Your name: Kelly Dorman

  
FK: Kelly, you live in a very special Michigan place. Tell us about it. 


I’ve lived in Michigan my entire life. Born a “Yooper” (a resident of the Upper Peninsula), I spent many years downstate. Eight years ago, I fulfilled a lifelong dream by becoming a year-round resident of Mackinac Island.

Mackinac is a small island in the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with a long history as a “gathering place,” first with the Native people, during the early 1800’s as a center of the fur trade which was replaced by the fishing industry and finally, our current tourists/visitors. 
Visitors come to enjoy the natural beauty, the architecture, the history and the unique experience of life in a place which has forbidden the use of motor vehicles – transportation is by foot, bicycle and most importantly, horse.
In many ways, we have two phases of year, the “Season” and Winter. During the season, we have thousands of visitors each day, from all over the world. We also have many seasonal employees, again from all over the world. Everyone works so hard, it’s necessary when you have to make your living for the year in just six months. But we play hard too and by October, we’re all looking forward to the coming of winter. 
 

FK: Anyone who is a hopeless romantic will know that the movie Somewhere in Time was filmed on Mackinac Island at the Grand Hotel. The hotel is an imposing presence on the island, isn't it?
This year, winter starts on October 26th, when the famous Grand Hotel closes. Over the next couple weeks, nearly everything, with the exception of a couple of restaurants and a few essential services, will be shut away and closed until next May. Then it’s just the year rounders, approximately 500 of us. Winters require a certain mindset, a high degree of self reliance and the ability to make do with what’s available.

Living on Mackinac is truly a unique lifestyle, one that’s a great fit for me. I have the opportunity to interact with so many diverse people, other artists, writers, poets, film makers, people from around the world and from so many economic backgrounds – in many ways it’s very cosmopolitan. And in contrast, I have miles of forest trails literally in my backyard, allowing me to interact with the natural world in complete solitude.  The creative inspiration is endless and is present in all my work.

FK: That creative inspiration is very evident in the incredible beadwork you do.  It's stunning. Do you have professional training? How did you get started?

My professional training is in the sciences, specifically the clinical laboratory, where the emphasis is on following established protocols and extreme attention to detail – creativity and innovation in the lab is not encouraged.

Living history became a creative outlet for me (more about this later); I enjoy the in-depth research, and again the extreme attention to detail, needed to recreate the lifestyle of the past. I soon reached a point where I wanted all the proper accessories to accompany my ensembles and that meant teaching myself how to make them. My adventures in beadwork started by researching and reproducing beaded bags that duplicated the techniques and materials of the original artifacts in every possible way.  I’ve continued to explore various techniques of the past, sometimes using them as they were originally intended to be used and other times in completely new ways.

An Original Design and Technique Edwardian Style Beaded Bag - Caught in the Ne

FK: How long have you had your Etsy shop?  What was your inspiration?
I discovered Etsy a couple years ago and created my shop, Backward Glances, soon after. I chose the name Backward Glances as a reference to the beadwork of the past – all my work reflects a need to combine traditional form and function with my own color and design sensibilities, to reinterpret classic needlework styles in a modern and innovative manner.



 FK: Tell me about your creative life. What do you love doing the most? How do you get inspired to do what you do?




 I try to live my entire life in a creative way and over the years I’ve found that basically everything in my life shows up in my work eventually. Books I read, patterns or colors I see in my daily rounds, conversations, historic fashion, nature especially, end up included in various ways. It’s seldom a conscious intent and I often only recognize the inspiration after the fact. A good example is “Shell Game;" I thought I was just making a turtle bag, but in reality the colors I chose to use all came from the colors of my walk to work in the winter – the colors of a cedar forest in the snow. 


I have a workroom, but it is primarily my place to both store and strew my supplies. Whenever I start a new project, I need to pull out absolutely everything that even might work and then I need to just push it around and look at it for awhile. Then I pull out the bits that don’t work and add some more and look some more, repeat – it’s a messy process.
I work everywhere; beads are relatively portable. I suspect someday in the distant future, an archeologist will be very puzzled – why does an apparent home site have industrial numbers of beads on site? 

FK: I can relate to that - I do the same thing, pull everything out until I have created quite a mess! What part of being an artist is the most gratifying to you, and what part of being an artist is hardest for you, or that you dislike the most?
All my pieces are intended to evoke a place, a time, an atmosphere and I know I have succeeded as an artist when a piece causes an immediate emotional response in a viewer.

Like so many artists, I find salesmanship and self promotion very difficult; I put so much of myself in each piece that I often find myself without the energy to take that next step.
I work in a medium that is often not acknowledged as “ART”, I cringe when someone says, “Oh, this is Kelly – she’s really crafty.”  I know beads are not always art, but I’ve worked so hard to push the limits and boundaries of my materials and techniques. It took me many years before I was willing to give myself the title of “artist”, but I believe I’ve earned it.

FK: Kelly, not to worry - your work is definitely art! What do you do when you’re not being an artist? 

I’m not sure an artist is ever not being an artist! 

I’m a serious reader, both fiction and nonfiction, especially anything with a historical influence – which leads to another love of mine, living history. Both my husband and I have been involved in Civil War living history for nearly fifteen years, portraying civilians living during the 1860s. Our relative isolation on the Island makes it difficult to attend many events, most of which are in the summer, but we have become very serious about research and have given many presentations during the off season. This article appeared in our local paper about our living history:

 Civil War Period is Focus for Island Couple.


Another good example of all my interests being interrelated: I first studied herbariums  as part of a presentation on antebellum botany.  Herbarium, in botany, is a collection of preserved plant specimens. These specimens may be whole plants or plant parts, usually in a dried form, mounted on a sheet. 

This past winter I created my version of a beaded herbarium, “Cycling”, which was accepted into the inaugural contemporary exhibit at our new museum on Mackinac, the Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum www.mackinacparks.com/mackinac-art-museum.
 


One of my favorite forms of year-round entertainment is walking the many trails on the Island and taking photos of all the many natural beauties to be found in the woods. These are the natural wonders of the Mackinac that most visitors are oblivious to - tourists tend to focus on our big, obvious attractions. I have literally 1000's of images, taken in all seasons and all places, the complete seasonal cycle.

I wanted to have my beaded pieces rotate or cycle, and what better way than on a discarded bicycle wheel? After all, most of us on the island cycle everywhere, to work, to play and home again. The cedar base was a fortunate find, it had been blown down in a wind storm, destined to be broken down and cycled back into the earth.

Here's two closeups with their inspiration photos. 


  FK: I think your "cycling" piece is truly an ambitious and outstanding piece of art!  I want to thank you for allowing me to visit with you. This has truly been an education, not only about beading but about one of our Michigan jewels: Mackinac Island. (Note: If you would like to learn more about Mackinac Island, go here.)

I'm encouraging everyone to sign up to follow your blog. Your are not only an outstanding beader but an accomplished photographer as well.  Your blog is a visual delight!

What special giveaway are you offering?

I'm offering a $40.00 Gift Certificate for use in my etsy shop, Backward Glances

FK: That's wonderful! Now let me tell everyone how they can win. 


You will have several chances to be entered into the random drawing. Each one must be entered as a separate comment.  


First entry: Visit Kelly's shop or blog, come back here, and enter a comment about your favorite piece(s). 


Second entry: Enter a comment if you have signed up to follow Kelly's blog (or comment if you already follow).


Third entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my blog (or comment that you already follow).


Fourth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up as a fan on my Facebook page (or comment that you are already a fan).


That's four chances to enter for the random drawing!  I will use random generator to pick a winner after 12 noon EDT on


Wednesday, November 3.
 

56 comments:

  1. Christina - xristya@rock.com - I love the Reproduction Crochet And Bead Miser Bag, very old-timey and elegant! The stories of Mackinac Island and how the artist lives there and the photos are superb!

    ReplyDelete
  2. this is my favorite: Adrift - A Found Object, Mixed Technique Beaded Necklace, in Blue and Driftwood

    boswife @ gmail . com

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have to say, my favorite is
    Adrift - A Found Object, Mixed Technique Beaded Bracelet. The wood is fantastic and the colors are my favorite. Beautiful!
    Carol

    ReplyDelete
  4. And here is a comment from me -- I already follow Kelly's blog. And I want to add that I love the beaded herbarium. Spectacular and what a great way to display them!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here I am one more time - I just signed on to follow your blog, Felicia. Looking forward to reading more!
    Carol

    ReplyDelete
  6. i love a touch of smoke choker- gorgeous.
    thanks!
    shenais
    divertida at fastmail dot fm

    ReplyDelete
  7. i follow her blog.
    thanks!
    shenais
    divertida at fastmail dot fm

    ReplyDelete
  8. i follow you, too.
    thanks!
    shenais
    divertida at fastmail dot fm

    ReplyDelete
  9. i like you on facebook (wren nelson)
    thanks!
    shenais
    divertida at fastmail dot fm

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love 'O. So Wilde - Beaded Sunflower Necklace'- so gorgeous! khaski678 at hotmail dot ocm

    ReplyDelete
  11. New follower of Kelly's blog using GFC. khaski78 at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love all of your items, my recent favorite is "Cycling", by the way you are a great artist as well. Miss you and I can't wait to see what you work on this winter.
    Sally

    ReplyDelete
  13. I like Bead Woven Bracelet with Vintage Cabochon, Thank You Mr. Varney.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I love the Fire Mandala peyote pendant. Lots of beautiful items.
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  15. following your blog via gfc as jhb.
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  16. My absolute favorite is the Beadwoven, Victorian Style Choker Necklace - A Touch of Smoke - Original Design
    Thank you for the giveaway :)
    hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  17. I follow your blog with google friend connect
    Thank you for the giveaway :)
    hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  18. I follow kelly's blog with google friend connect
    Thank you for the giveaway :)
    hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm a fan of your Facebook page - my FB name is Amanda Moore
    Thank you for the giveaway :)
    hurdler4eva(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love the spinning silver into gold bag! And a few years back, I was one of those tourists on Mackinac!

    hrfarley at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  21. Wow, what amazing work! Especially the O So Wilde Sunflower necklace. I could wear it with my icon!;)

    carapacenator(at)gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. I love the Butterfly Trembler Hairpin, Beaded Butterfly Hair Ornament.
    ghainskom at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I follow your blog
    ghainskom at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  24. I follow Kelly's blog
    ghainskom at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  25. Butterfly Trembler Hairpin, Beaded Butterfly Hair Ornament ..this one chic and beauty ornament, wear it on workdress and be womanize >,<
    wulanseries at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  26. Follow this blog via GFC
    user :wulan sari
    wulanseries at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  27. Waiting for His Ship to Come In is my fave

    A_C_E_ at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi! I love Kelly's work! My favorite is her Round Island Lighthouse evening bag! I had a rare opportunity to go out to Round Island and have actually been inside this wonderful lighthouse! Kelly has captured it perfectly!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I've always been a fan of vintage beaded purses, but Kelly's interpretation of beaded accessories and her assemblage pieces are mind-blowing! Reading this interview with the gorgeous Mackinac pictures made me really proud I'm from Michigan! Thanks for the fantastic blog post!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi! I just signed up to follow your blog - thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Hi! I just signed up on your Facebook page! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hi! I just signed up on Kelly's blog. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  33. wow the giveaway is very unique.

    she has an amazing shop, all stuff are so gorgeous and i love this one
    Bead Woven Bracelet with Vintage Cabochon, Thank You Mr. Varney

    silverlilacc at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  34. follow Mackin-Art blog


    silverlilacc at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  35. follow your blog too :)




    silverlilacc at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  36. I love the Beadwoven, Victorian Style Choker Necklace - A Touch of Smoke - Original Design.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  37. I'm a follower.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  38. I'm a Facebook fan. [Aik Chien]

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  39. my favorite item is Bead Woven Sparkle Bracelet - it's perfect!
    isollea at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  40. Yay! A Michigan store! :)
    I love her Bead Woven Peyote Stitch Bracelet - Purple Passion ColoRings! So neat!
    kkondek at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  41. Following Kelly's blog - ktkatherine
    kkondek at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  42. Following your blog - ktkatherine
    kkondek at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  43. Fanned you on facebook - ktkatherine
    kkondek at gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  44. Hi, My fav thingy there is http://www.etsy.com/listing/33606854/beadwoven-victorian-style-choker

    Contact me dear :)
    liz_crowny(at)yahoo(dot)com
    pintaliztiirene.blogspot.com

    Thankies dear
    <3 Liz

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hi, I already fan of you in FB name doki doki co :)

    Contact me here :)
    liz_crowny(at)yahoo(dot)com
    pintaliztiirene.blogspot.com

    thankies for helding this sweet giveaway and have a perfect day :)

    ReplyDelete
  46. I love the
    Ring Crochet Projects from Peterson's Magazine - Going 'Round in Circles

    bella_gureishi AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  47. I followed kellys blog.

    bella_gureishi AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  48. I followed your blog.

    bella_gureishi AT yahoo DOT com

    ReplyDelete
  49. I love Kelly's Shop (and Hearted it too)among my most favorites are the Butterfly Trembler HairPin and the Bead Woven Sparkle Bracelet. Amazing, exquisite detail!

    Jessterlyn(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  50. I am a Public Follower of Kelly's Blog Backward Glances

    (Aside: we just love to visit Macinac Island and the whole area!)

    jessterlyn(at)aol(dot)com
    Salleefur/Jesslyn

    ReplyDelete
  51. I am a Public Follower of your /Felicia Kramer's Blog

    Salleefur/Jesslyn
    Jessterlyn(at)aol(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  52. Love the Bead Woven Peyote Stitch Bracelet - Purple Passion ColoRings.

    Thanks !
    lesliedoll at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  53. i love the O. So Wilde - Beaded Sunflower Necklace (:

    katmckid at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  54. following your blog

    katmckid at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  55. following kelly's blog

    katmckid at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
  56. liked on facebook as kate mcp

    katmckid at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete

I'm interested in what you have to say. Join the discussion:

Related Posts with Thumbnails