Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In the Michigan Studio with Divine Iguana and a Giveaway



I recently joined a new Facebook group called Southeastern Michigan Artist Trading Spot (SMATS).  We've had a few get-togethers already and we have big plans for some future group art activities.  It has been so much fun meeting and getting to know these artists right here in my own backyard! I was a bit intimidated at first because they all seem so much more accomplished than I am; but I like that being around them is challenging me to up my game, so to speak.

One of the artists I have come to know would be verrrry intimidating if I focused exclusively on her prolific and gorgeous body of work.  But she has such a warm, funny, somewhat quirky personality that I liked her the first time I met her.  So I invited myself to her studio so I could share her talent and her personality with all of you.

FK: I'll pour the coffee while you give us your basic information, Rena.
 

Your name: Rena Lynn Hopkins

Your Twitter page: @DivineIguana


FK: Let's start with where you live now. Is that where you grew up?
 
I live in Detroit now, but I spent most of my adult life in Cincinnati, Ohio. I've only been here for about a year, but I have absolutely fallen in love with this city. There is so much creativity here, this raw primal sort of creativity. There are so many people with wild, grand visions and their energy is infectious. Everywhere I go in this city I find inspiration. I miss Cincinnati, but Detroit is definitely home.

 
FK: It's so refreshing to hear some positive things about Detroit. Its national reputation over-shadows so many great things the city has to offer.  Tell me, do you have an art education background or are you self-taught? 

I studied painting, printmaking, and photography at Miami of Ohio. When I went to school I thought that I wanted to translate and illustrate classical texts. I studied a lot of Latin. I really wish someone had pointed out how impractical that was as a job ambition.  I mean, that job doesn't really exist, does it? 

When I left school I worked in theater for a long time, first as a costume designer and later as a singer/comedic actress. I remember in high school my art teacher told me I had my head in the clouds, and I guess he was right. Through all of that, though, I've always considered myself an artist.  I've always made things. It's compulsive. I get a little crazy, a little more than crazy I guess, when I can't create. 

  
FK: I know many people who made obscure career choices, but ... translate and illustrate classical texts?? That's a new one! Costume designer, singer, comedian, artist - a tad more accessible!

Talk to me about your three etsy shops - each one has its own distinct personality. That must keep you pretty busy.

BrassMenagerie is my steam punk and found object jewelry shop.  Most of the work is made from watch parts and old game pieces.  I have a new line of earrings that uses the date rings from old wrist watches and combines them with other gears and beads to make these beautiful little compositions that look like tiny machines for divination. 


There is one pair in my shop right now that has these gorgeous little navy blue discs with moons on them covered in resin and hung on the middle of these deep black watch faces with little gold tick marks around the edges.  To me they feel talismanic, as if they might still be connected to the changing of time in ways I don't understand. 
Antique Bingo Marker Lips and Eyes Earrings

Bingo Tile Blue Butterfly Found Object Earrings

DivineIguana is where I hide my collages, both quirky and obtuse. My recent work there is informed by an Edwardian, steam punk aesthetic.  I have this print with Edith Sitwell's hand reaching out to touch the moon. It's a digital collage that I made after meeting this fellow at a show in Columbus.  He spent nearly a half hour in my booth looking at art and jewelry. He examined every piece, touched everything. When I asked if he wanted to know where the pieces I used in my collages came from he said no, that would ruin the mystery. That may have been the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my work. Anyhow, when he left (with a brooch made out of watch faces and broken metal) he shook my hand and I felt like he had taken a little part of my soul with him out of the booth. So I made this piece which is titled "Handshake" or "there will never be another ocean" because "The way I felt after some stranger looked into my soul through my art in a booth at Winterfair" is way too long for a title. 
Handshake or "There will never be another ocean" 8x10" Print
The Military Man
PassionFruitsImages is where I share with other artists the images I have collected for use in my work. I have image sets of phrenological charts, old anatomical drawings, zoological drawings of squids and octopi and all kinds of other things that I happen to think are really cool.
1-Inch Octopus and Squid Images
Alice in Wonderland 1x2 Digital Collage Sheet
Lately I have been making digital papers to match the image sets. My favorite is a set of "Vintage Neutral" papers that were made from scans of actual antique book pages. I use those papers in all of my digital collage work. I hope that other artists might find them as useful as I do.

FK: It's all unbelievably stunning work! Tell me about your everyday creative life. Of all of these, what do you love doing the most and what's your inspiration to get going? And where do you do your art?

I have a top floor studio in our new house. It's still a big move-in mess, but it's going to be fantastic. In Cincinnati I lived by myself in my studio and I still miss some of that creative freedom. I used to work until 6 in the morning, crash on my futon with the computer at my feet, wake up at 10 and immediately get back to work. I'd go days without getting dressed. In the summer I'd work in my bathing suit because it was really hot. In the winter I worked and slept in my bathrobe and a winter coat.
Esoteric Phrenological Chart Bingo Tile Earrings
 Now that I live with someone else I have to be a little less bizarre with my art habits. I try to be in bed no later than 4 and up at 9. I bathe EVERY DAY whether I need it or not, brush hair and teeth, make dinner and all that other normal people stuff. It's a little strange not to be able to work whenever the mood strikes me, but I think that the reminder to eat regularly is probably worth the hassle. Plus David (my boyfriend) is a much better conversationalist than my cats were.
Allison's Earrings

FK: That's quite the schedule, Rena. I wish I could sleep only 4-5 hours a night - I could get so much more done! What part of being an artist is most gratifying and what's the hardest? 

I don't know what part I like best about being an artist, or what's hardest. I mean, I have tried to do other things and I always come back to art. I miss having money. I guess that's the worst part, the constant financial worry that comes with being a full-time artist/crafter. But I really can't imagine doing anything else and being happy with it. I can't work a day job for long without feeling like I need to chew my own arm off to get free.
Peach Blossom Earrings
 FK: Then by all means, be an artist!! As far as the money goes, it's probably some small consolation that 99% of all artists are right there with you.  What do you do when you're not being an artist? Are there other things in your life that influence your art?

In Cincinnati I danced with a burlesque troupe and sang with a band. (Our CD, Dead Band Walking, is out on iTunes if you want to check it out.) I like the stage, and I miss that outlet here in Detroit, but I'm sure I'll find someplace to perform here soon.

I read a LOT. I also enjoy sleeping and eating rich foods. Oh, and lately I have been taking this amazing aerial arts class at the Detroit Academy of Kinesthenic Arts (D.A.K.A.). I have never been athletic and this has been very new and exciting to me. Plus I get to hang upside down from one contraption or another at least once a week. Upside down is AWESOME!
Vintage Acrobatics Photoshop Brushes 25 Digital Image Set
 FK: Rena, you are a piece of work, and I mean that in the nicest possible way! You are insanely talented, very energetic, laugh-out-loud funny, and I thank you for letting me get to know you better and for giving me the chance to share you with everyone. Now tell me what some lucky person is going to win.  


I am giving away a pair of my new date ring earrings:

FK: Rena, simply gorgeous! Thank you so much for your generosity and thanks for letting me visit.  Now I'll tell everyone how they can enter.


How to Enter
You have several chances to be entered into the random drawing. PLEASE read carefully; the entry requirements have been changed.

First entry: Visit any of Rena's shops - BrassMenagerie, DivineIguana, PassionFruitsImages AND/OR website, come back here, and enter a comment about your favorite piece(s).
Second entry: Enter a comment if you have signed up to follow Rena’s Facebook page (or comment if you already follow).
Third entry: Enter a comment if you have signed up to follow Rena on Twitter.
Fourth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my blog (or comment that you already follow).
Fifth entry: Enter a comment that you signed up to follow my Facebook page AND/OR my Pinterest page (or comment that you already follow).

That's five chances to enter for the random drawing!  Please be sure that your correct email address is in your profile; if it is not, include your email address in your comment.  I will use random number generator to pick a winner after 12 noon EDT on


Wednesday, March 14.





67 comments:

  1. Go Rena! great interview. I had no idea she was a performer:)

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  2. I love the zombie girl. Thanks for the chance.

    sweetascandy579 at yahoo dot com

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  3. I like the facebook page.

    sweetascandy579 at yahoo dot com

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  4. I follow on twitter.

    sweetascandy579 at yahoo dot com

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  5. Love your beaded earring. Lovely combinations of beads. This one is my favourite- /listing/68631557/alchemists-tear-earrings-no1-blue-glass

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  6. Christina - xristya@rock.com - I like Blue Bird Steampunk Bird from Divine Iguana!

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  7. I LOVE Steampunk jewelery my favorite item from The Brass Menagerie is the Industrial modern Steampunk Skeleton Key Necklace!!

    megnate at telus dot net

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  8. I like The Divine Iguana on facebook (same name)

    megnate at telus dot net

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  9. I follow Rena on twitter as fahlinstar

    megnate at telus dot net

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  10. I already follow you on GFC (same name)

    megnate at telus dot net

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  11. I like you on facebook and follow you on pinterest (same name)

    megnate at telus dot net

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  12. My favorite will be this: http://www.etsy.com/listing/93514178/hot-air-balloon-and-bingo-call-nmber I love it!

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  13. I liked her page on facebook as Marina B.

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  14. I am following her on twitter as isollea

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  15. I am following your blog as Marina D.

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  16. I also liked your facebook page as Marina B.

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  17. I like the Sultan's Turban Copper Earrings. They remind me of the beautiful lanterns in Morocco.

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  18. I like this item:
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/18191797/blue-bird-steampunk-bird-giclee-print

    Nika861@centrum.cz

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  19. date ring watch plate earrings are my favorite
    gkuroda(at)gmail.com

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  20. MY fav is this one> http://www.etsy.com/listing/93756622/clockwork-gears-1-inch-round-bottlecaps
    e-mail: selmicak3@hotmail.com

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  21. I follow Rena’s Facebook page: Selmica Kiki
    e-mail: selmicak3@hotmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  22. I follow Rena on twitter: @Selmica Kiki
    e-mail: selmicak3@hotmail.com

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  23. I follow your blog via GFC: Selmica Kiki
    e-mail: selmicak3@hotmail.com

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  24. I follow you on FB: Selmica Kiki
    e-mail: selmicak3@hotmail.com

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  25. I really like the Lavender and Spiral Steampunk Skeleton Key Necklace from the Brass Menagerie shop


    magspie9(at)gmail(dot)com

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  26. Following your blog on GFC as Megan

    magspie9(at)gmail(dot)com

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  27. following Rena on Twitter as magspie0

    magspie9(at)gmail(dot)com

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  28. From the BrassMenagerie, my favorite piece is the
    Time Crystals Lavender and Hematite Steampunk Earrings

    darlene(dot)demell(at)sympatico(dot)ca

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  29. I have signed up to follow Rena’s Facebook page (Darlene Demell)
    darlene(dot)demell(at)sympatico(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  30. I follow Rena on Twitter as Darlene7
    darlene(dot)demell(at)sympatico(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  31. Follow your blog via GFC (Darlene Demell)
    darlene(dot)demell(at)sympatico(dot)ca

    ReplyDelete
  32. I follow your Facebook page (Darlene Demell)
    darlene(dot)demell(at)sympatico(dot)ca

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  33. I love the Small Clockwork Mechanism Steampunk Necklace (Specimen n204).

    clenna at aol dot com

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  34. I follow Rena’s Facebook page

    clenna at aol dot com

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  35. I follow your blog via Google GFC

    clenna at aol dot com

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  36. I follow your Facebook page


    clenna at aol dot com

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  37. I like Steampunk Pocket Watch Plate and Vintage Button Steam Punk Necklace (Specimen n206)
    redalepou(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  38. I like The Divine Iguana on Facebook: Olesia Flegka
    redalepou(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  39. I already follow your blog with GFC: Lulu
    I'm now following you on Pinterest: lulufleg
    redalepou(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  40. http://www.etsy.com/listing/93514178/hot-air-balloon-and-bingo-call-nmber

    That is my fav one :)

    minuhno@gmail.com

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  41. love the pocketwatch movement neckalce
    diarygirl at live dot com

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  42. I love the Pocket watch Movement and Vintage Button Reversible Watchworks Steampunk Necklace (Specimen n170)

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  43. I follow Rena’s Facebook page – Aik Chien

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  44. I follow Rena on Twitter @aikchien

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  45. I'm a blog follower - Aik.

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  46. I follow your Facebook page – Aik Chien

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

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  47. I love the black and white Clock Face and Date Rings Steampunk Earrings (Specimen e242).

    Email: sheepity812@yahoo.co.uk

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  48. I love this item: http://www.etsy.com/listing/94192268/butterflies-found-object-earrings-on

    kiss_shani(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  49. Liked Rena's FB page as Shani Smet

    kiss_shani(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  50. Following Rena on twitter as ButterfliesSky

    kiss_shani(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  51. Following your blog via GFC as kiss_shani

    kiss_shani(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  52. i liked http://www.etsy.com/listing/94650171/small-clockwork-mechanism-steampunk from BrassMenagerie
    email: preranakedia(at)gmail(dot)com

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  53. have signed up to follow Rena on Twitter as @PreranaRanjan
    email: preranakedia(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  54. following ur blog via GFC : Prerana kedia
    email: preranakedia(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  55. I love the blue butterfly earrings from brassmanagerie :)
    peaceandpaws at yahoo dot com

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  56. My favorite piece is the Piscean Pendant Steampunk Watchworks and Found Object Necklace(Specimen n123)

    Cynthia.Richardson@azbar.org

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  57. I Like Rena's Facebook page - Cynthia M Richardson

    Cynthia.Richardson@azbar.org

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  58. I follow Rena on twitter - hofken

    Cynthia.Richardson@azbar.org

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  59. I signed up to follow your blog

    Cynthia.Richardson@azbar.org

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  60. I follow your Facebook page - Cynthia M Richardson

    Cynthia.Richardson@azbar.org

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  61. I visited Rena etsy shop and I love several of the items she has. here is a link to my favortie
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/78675045/hot-air-balloons-scrabble-tiles-digital
    BusytennesseeMom at charter dot net

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  62. I follow rena on her facebook page as Pamela Womack Sims. I left her a message on her facebook page thanking her for the giveaway.
    BusyTennesseeMom at charter dot net

    ReplyDelete
  63. I follow your blog via email as BusyTennesseeMom at charter dot net.
    I follow you on gfc as Pam sims.

    ReplyDelete
  64. I follow you on facebook as Pamela Womack Sims.
    Busytennesseemom at charter dot net

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  65. this is so pretty!
    http://www.etsy.com/listing/88321759/watchwork-and-vintage-rhinestone-button?ref=v1_other_2

    ReplyDelete

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