BAP MEL NAS PT1 FIN
[00:00:00] Melissa: You have to be completely as devoted to making a mess as you are to making art.
[00:00:05] Marijanel: I need to give myself outside pressure to get my dreams out.
[00:00:09] Melissa: And stop thinking that everything you touch needs to be a, a gallery worthy art piece. That that's not the case from any artist on the planet.
[00:00:20] Marijanel: Welcome to today's show.
Have you been feeling stale in your creativity? Like you've plateaued in your art and you just need a boost to get your creative juices flowing? Well, today is the show for you. I am here with a guest who is gonna blow your mind with her inspiration and creativity. Her name is Melissa Nasby of Soul Fiber, and she is a fiber artist, puppet maker and she calls herself a professional mess maker. You are going to love Melissa. Let's get right into it. Thank you for being on the show, Melissa.
[00:00:55] Melissa: Thank you for having me. Marijanel.
[00:00:57] Marijanel: I am so thrilled to bring you to the Bold Artist Podcast because you are actually a personal friend of mine.
[00:01:04] Melissa: I am indeed very happy about that.
[00:01:06] Marijanel: We have lived in the same city for quite a number of years, and yet I feel like you are just this treasure to be found. Like you are rare in the world. Someone like you is just so rare that I'm like, wow, I get to live in the same city as Melissa and have her on the Bold Artist podcast, and I want all of our fans and listeners to know that who you're about to hear, you are just going to be in for a real treat. Melissa is like no one else on the planet in in the realm of creativity. Now, even though you're a fiber artist and puppet maker and you call yourself a professional mess maker, there's just so much more to your creativity and how you demonstrate enthusiasm and productivity, and you, you're a business woman.
You are just brilliant in everything you do, Melissa. So I can't wait to hear more about you. So I know I've just shared with the audience who you are, but how about you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you even got into what you do?
[00:02:10] Melissa: Well, first of all, thank you for those extremely kind words. Wow.
Uh, I'd like to start every morning with a phone call from you. Just like that. Okay. Then I can take over the world, I'm sure. Well, Marijanel, you know, uh, you and I both have connected creativity creatively over the years. Um, I have my hands in a lot of things. Um, I am constantly inspired by mediums.
I began this journey, of course, as a child. I've always been creative, but never have I found the, you know, my zone, the, the real, um, motivator to keep me engaged and moving forward and exploring. And that is what I found in fiber. And, uh, so that is why I call myself a fiber artist. Even though I dabble in a, in a great deal of other mediums. I, my heart belongs to fiber and that's what really, uh, set me on this path to be a full-time artist.
[00:03:12] Marijanel: Wow. Okay. So can you give us a little bit of backstory of how all the different mediums you've tried that led you to Fiber and what hooked you? Now? I just want to, um, mention that a lot of our audience are painters and they're part of the Bold School painting community, and they're pursuing paint as their medium.
But I, I just also wanna say to all of you, painters who are listening and artists of various medium. This is still a podcast you want to listen to because Melissa, not only is she going to inspire our creativity in whatever medium we use, but she's made a journey to finding her niche, and I think that you and i, as painters and artists, we're looking for discovering our style and finding our nation. That's why I think this is a critical interview to listen to for all mediums, not just those interested in fiber art, but tell us, Melissa, how you came, uh, through the journey of finding fiber as your it as your thing.
[00:04:13] Melissa: First of all, I'm jealous of all the painters, cuz that's the one area that's my, that's my nemesis. I, I, uh, am not as good as I feel like I w I want to be in my head. So...
[00:04:25] Marijanel: we all know, know that feeling. We know that feeling.
[00:04:27] Melissa: Jealous of all the painters listening. Okay, so one day when I grow up, I wanna be like you.
Um, however, uh, my journey was very, uh, you know, basic as a child because I came from, you know, a very practical middle-aged, middle-aged, pardon me, middle income family, and you know, Were more focused on like, go to school, you know, get your job sort of thing. And, and art, especially to my father, was just more of a, something you did for fun.
You know? It wasn't so much of a, of a career path or presented to me in that way. So I really had to seek out my own ways to sort of release this creative energy I, I had and or still have, thank goodness. And, um, I started just, you know, basic things. I, I went into floral design really early in, uh, you know, school and I loved it, but I didn't love the component where people, customers would come in and, and tell you what they wanted.
[00:05:25] Marijanel: Okay.
[00:05:26] Melissa: So I discovered very early that, um, no, uh, I need to make it . It has to be from me. I don't wanna just be in a, a career where I'm told to put together something creative that I knew right away was something that sort of smothered my personal, uh, creativity. So I need to feel free. I need to experiment. I need, so I spent my teen years, my young adult life just exploring and taking every art class and just exposing myself to a ton of different little things, mostly craft items, not fine art per se. Uh, until late in high school, I started getting into sculpting.
Loved it. But clay, I have ADHD, so I have to be very careful that something that takes a long time to process like ceramics or firing something in a kiln is not something that I have an attention span for. So I needed to discover something that was not necessarily instant gratification, but that I could do in one long stretch.
You know, that would just keep my attention. I didn't have to bake it or cook it or , you know, anything like that. So I knew it had to be something with my hands on it the whole time to start seeing results. So that's how it all began. And then I was introduced to, uh, spinning wool, believe it or not, spinning my own yarn.
And when that happened and I got those fibers in between my hands, that was it. I knew. It's almost a love story , really, when you
[00:06:59] Marijanel: Wow.
[00:07:00] Melissa: Meet that special someone and you are just like, you can't explain it, you just know. And I, uh, had the fibers in my hands and thought, th this is my thing. And then I set out to discover all that fiber could do and push the limits hopefully within that medium.
[00:07:17] Marijanel: Yeah. And, and you are just so gifted and skilled at it, but what, what's really important for everyone to know as they listen to you, Melissa, is that you not only do, let's just say the mainstream kind of fiber art, you've taken it to whole new levels through puppetry, through really large sculptures. Now you have made some of the most massive fiber sculptures that I've ever seen or heard of. Can you describe that for the audience right now? Just because I, I don't even know if, if I can do, do a good enough job, like describing what you've been capable of.
[00:08:02] Melissa: Well, it's so funny. Earlier you mentioned, you know, finding our style and that sort of thing, and, and it, it is a discovery process.
You're discovering, uh, you know, what you enjoy or what your, your scale is and what I realized is that very early on, um, when I discovered needle felting, which is uh, uh, the medium, uh, or the method by which I manipulate fibers now to sculpt. So I was able to combine the two things I loved the fiber and sculpting and as I played and played and played and got frustrated with something small, cuz everything on the internet was small.
You made these little figurines right? And I, it frustrated me and I, I just didn't like it, but I kept trying it. And it was the first time in my life where I tried something I didn't like and then kept trying it. So there was something more there that I knew I, I was yet to discover. So it was the scale and I, I learned it by gradually, I kept getting bigger and bigger and making, and I realized, that was my area. And of course, because , it's the most difficult, uh, the most space gobbling and, uh, you know, time consuming. Of course, I have to choose the most difficult path. But I have done life size actual animals such as, uh, grizzly bear, uh, which you've seen, um, and a life size giraffe, uh, but just the neck and head.
So over that was seven and a half I believe eight feet tall.
[00:09:35] Marijanel: So yes, and, and I'll just describe this here for the listeners and watchers, that these are sculptures that Melissa starts with, well I don't even know what, what you start with, but some sort of framework and you build, you build onto them some kind of like structure that then you begin to needle felt these animals that look very realistic.
And I have gotten to see the giraffe and the grizzly bear in person. And the grizzly , I feel like I'm with a grizzly bear. Like it's actually eerie and scary because it looks so real and all these fibers, like I, we could talk at a different time about what you actually use, but it looks like fur. You just made this bear come alive.
But then the giraffe is, is just this amazing, like you wouldn't initially think it's fiber and then an artist took every single needle point to do this, but it's just, and then you had the mouth moving with animatronics. So it was just this mind blowing sculpture. Um, kids were looking up at this giraffe talking to it, and it was just amazing.
So this just kind of paints the picture that, uh, of what Melissa creates. You, you create puppets for commissions and yet these incredible headdresses and all kinds of very unique, um, costumes and, and these la like large scale animal sculptures. It's just incredible. And I'll just take a moment to say that I commissioned Melissa last year to create me a puppet of my Missy Mae Hedgehog, the character that I illustrate, and I have her here in the studio with me.
I'm so proud of her. And Melissa created Lil Missy Mae for me. This is, she's never been on the Bold School channel before. She's always been over on my YouTube channel, but, um, here she is. And you did such a beautiful job, and this is entirely felt and, or yeah, like felted I should say. Felted. And so Melissa, you mentioned earlier that you didn't want clients or people telling you how to create.
So what is that process? Because I came to you with the vision of my hedgehog and you know, said, Melissa, this is what I illustrate and I've been wanting a puppet. And you got inside my brain and brought out this beautiful puppet. And yet, did you feel like someone was telling you what to do? Did you feel like you had enough creativity?
And what is that process like for you?
[00:12:15] Melissa: Well, like I think with every artist, there's this love hate relationship with commissions, right? Because it's, you have to do it. We have to earn a living, right? So when someone comes to you and asks or presents you with a job, of course, and, and that does actually excite me because now it's a challenge, right?
So again, initiating that ADHD component where I have to have some level of excitement and interest and. I see, I'm very careful with who I do do commissions with because I knew you and I knew your talents. Right? Excuse me. So I knew that when you're coming to me with something, first of all, your, your illustration skills are off the charts.
So I knew it was going to be amazing, whatever you were going to ask me to do.
[00:13:01] Marijanel: Thank you.
[00:13:02] Melissa: So when I love it and believe in it, no problem, right? There's none of those feelings. It's when, you know, and, and why I bring up the floral, um, example was because yeah, it's just everybody needs flowers, right?
So they could come in and say, can you put these red and purple and you know this together? And I was like, mm. No , no, I don't wanna do that because it's, it's not gonna look good, right? But to them it looked good and that's what they wanted. So I had the problem with working with people, um, who, who like different things than I did, or, or I had to feel like I was inspired or invested or interested in the outcome. I guess that's really what it boils down to. I'm not just a, a spoiled monster who can't be told what to do, but I am, well, my husband might argue.
[00:13:55] Marijanel: Well, it's really hard for a lot of artists to start taking commissions and that's why I wanted to ask you about the commission aspect, and you had brought it up earlier with the florals is, is it's hard for artists to, especially when we're beginning to first of all, get brave enough to work with a client and then to find it within ourselves to match the client's expectations and to be happy doing it.
Cuz we do wanna create just what we wanna create.
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And so I think that you sharing first that it's a challenge and I've actually, in past episodes, brought forward the challenges, of, like, taking commissions for getting better because I think it makes us better artists to work with a client's expectations.
And so yet, um, how do you balance it, Melissa, between your taking cl like commissions and clients and then making art for yourself and what comes from your imagination? How do you balance that?
[00:15:28] Melissa: Well, living where we live in this beautiful part of the world, but it's actually not really ideal for someone as niche as I am.
So it's tricky. So I end up, uh, you know, I'm not fighting people off. Let's put it.
[00:15:44] Marijanel: Okay. Yeah.
[00:15:45] Melissa: Politely. Um, but I do, like I said, I will turn down a job that doesn't, uh, mesh with my, you know, I, I don't wanna put my name on something that I didn't feel it with, you know, or I didn't feel like I could work with the client.
So, yeah, it does make you better, but that's also scary. Exactly what you said. It's very hard to take, um, sometimes very blunt criticism from, uh, someone where you thought you were on the right, same creative page, and then you discover when you present your work to them that you missed the mark.
[00:16:20] Marijanel: Right.
[00:16:20] Melissa: That's difficult for anyone or, uh, as an artist to, uh, take, but you have to do it to learn how to take it and then to learn how to apply it to your art, listen to what they were saying. And at the end of the day, they're the paying customers. So if they're happy, you know, I just have to know that I did good work on it and I did what they wanted to feel proud.
[00:16:43] Marijanel: Feel proud of it.
[00:16:44] Melissa: Um, so it, but I don't like to do too many that, that, that sort of takes a lot out of you. In Well, does me, I should say. For me, it takes a lot out of me, um, sort of stress of pleasing them and, and, and executing the way that they, they want. And there's also the stress of then what does this character go on to be and do.
So it's out there forever. I always think of musicians that put a song out there and maybe it reflects one certain part in their life, and then they moved on from that and I feel, how do they feel after that song is released now and they have to keep singing it at concerts and it's no longer part of their world?
I, I compare it to that, like you have to put this out sort of forever, right? Um, it's in someone, especially like a client like you, uh, MJ is where you are going to use it in your world for more, you know, um, podcasts and, and shows and fun things. And I have to be proud of that. And I want it to be out there and I wanna tell people about it.
So I, I have to have that feeling. And if I don't, I just won't accept. I won't accept the job, so yeah.
[00:17:53] Marijanel: Yeah. No, that's such good insight and advice. Now, Melissa, there was this moment you said it's like a love story that you felt fiber for the first time and then now, okay, so I'm imagining you like just taking that wool, having your first spinning session, your first spinning class, and then now I look at the puppets behind you.
All that you've created. We've described your life size giraffe, and I see a gorilla back there and a sloth and a really, I think it's a penguin, , a mouse. You have all of these, all of these amazing characters that have come from your imagination. And there was this journey between the two. That moment you first took the wool and you fell in love to where you are today, which is just mind blowing.
And. Boundless creativity, your boundless imagination. I want to know a little bit between those two moments, like what was that journey? How much of a mess have you had to make? You call yourself a professional mess maker? How much of a mess have you had to make between these two, between the the start of it and the outcome?
[00:19:03] Melissa: Excellent question. I you know, it all boils down to texture for me. I've discovered about myself and artistically that it's texture that drives all my, all my choices. And that sounds pretty narrow for someone as creative and, and sort of dabbling in a lot of different mediums as as I do. But it is all about texture, and that's why the love story began was that that texture of wool.
The possibilities of all the different looks and feels and lengths and textures of wool, um, and different ways I can manipulate it to get different textures, uh, is what really started to fill those gaps. So that is what drives me, I would say, is texture. So I'm not saying to myself, well, I said I make puppets, so therefore I, I only make puppets.
And that's not a bad thing. I mean, that's you. The way you become a master of something is you, you narrow it down to one or two things and you get real good at it. But my personality and uh, my journey is totally different because the ADHD and mastering one thing. Doesn't . Doesn't jive. Okay, so that's a whole nother podcast topic, but, mm.
Need something where I can do different things within that one medium. And wool provided that for me. So I was able to spin it one day. I could card it and make fluffy gorgeous, you know, landscapes and um, beautiful things with it. Then I can crochet or knit with it, like weave. I can do all those components of fiber arts and I can sculpt with it.
So it really fed all of my needs to do something different all the time and explore. But I'll tell you, it is all about exploration. So if I just, I probably would be really way better at a, a lot of things if I stuck with them, but each skill transfers onto the next thing. I really believe that even if you're right now, you're into cake decorating or floral design or oil painting, like everything you learn about color, texture, theory, composition, all that is all transferrable skills in whatever you're doing. So you can apply it to your day-to-day life. Your job, your, you, you know, it's, to me, I look at it like I'm in a giant classroom all the time, and I am striving towards something that I struggle to identify.
I don't know what that end goal is, and I'm, I'm sure there isn't one actually in existence for me, but it is to constantly push and explore and reignite my own, um, creativity and excitement towards the mediums I'm using.
[00:21:55] Marijanel: Yeah. I see that in you. I see that in the progression of your work and in how far you've pushed it, and I, I do believe that you're a master at what you do.
It. It's just there's so much diversity in with within the form you're mastering, you've, you've mastered the diversity of it, and I, what I love about what I've heard in this interview so far is that you know yourself even in the beginning where, where you said that you had to learn about yourself, that you didn't like in Florals, that someone was telling you what to do, and you found, uh, a, a field where you had more freedom, and then you also have discovered that you, that, that the texture drives it all and that you knew your attention span couldn't handle the kiln or that kind of long uh, drawn out process and that you needed to be able to, to do it within a certain context, like create within a certain context. I love that you know yourself and you've learned to work with who you are as an individual in the medium that you fell in love with. And I think that if there, I would love to encourage the artist listening no matter what your medium, your, even your skill level that you would know yourself what it is like how you work and how you wanna bring yourself into the art, and then push those boundaries in that individual way, how you have individually looked within yourself. Melissa, you said, I have ADHD, I can't handle things this way, but I could do them this way and I'm going to use this and push these limits.
I hope the picture I've, I've painted here that I've described it in a way that would inspire people to know themselves as an artist in, in how you've come to know yourself as an artist.
[00:23:44] Melissa: That was perfectly described like, and that really, I think most people, if they're honest and they're listening are, and they're an artist, are, are very much saying, Hmm. Yeah. Why is it that I won't take my paintings to sort of a, a 3D realm or something to experiment? May, maybe they're just too crippled by fear or rejection or wasting materials, or, you do have to understand what your own roadblocks are, what your own comfort and joy levels are. Like, I, I could do a lot of things but they don't bring me any joy and. Why, you know, so many people say, well, why don't you sew? You make costumes and you fabric, but it's fabrication only for me because the sewing machine, and I have a very, very, uh, tumultuous relationship. .
[00:24:37] Marijanel: I, I'm with you on that one. I'm with you. I can do it. I can do it if I need to, but me and that sewing machine, we fight.
[00:24:44] Melissa: Yeah. We're not friends. We're just not friends. So, um, I, I've discovered that about myself. Not only discovering it, accepting it, and then finding workarounds. And I think that's what growing up with ADHD did. Cuz it wasn't a thing when I was a kid. Um so I was undiagnosed and I just had to learn how to navigate w with what I've got, right? Which we all do.
[00:25:09] Marijanel: Yes.
[00:25:09] Melissa: So maybe you're extremely skilled in, in one area and that's great, but what is preventing you from discovering more, you know, unwrapping more layers of what's in you. And there is always more in you, you know, like, yes, I know you know this too, MJ, where you have just surprised yourself sometimes where you're like, wow, I actually didn't think I was gonna be able to do that.
I, I just came back from, uh, Utah in the summer and I did a live, um, sculpture on air.
[00:25:41] Marijanel: Yes you did.
[00:25:42] Melissa: Yeah. In two days. And I, at the end of it, I was flabbergasted that I achieved it because at home here, under normal circumstances, that would've taken me a week. Right. And in two...
[00:25:55] Marijanel: Well, it's all the interruptions and distractions, you know, at, at home, right?
[00:25:59] Melissa: Yes.
[00:25:59] Marijanel: Or in our own studios, and we talk about that a lot here on the show, is how to minimize the distractions and get ourselves into. . Good. Productive, focused work because we can do it. .
[00:26:11] Melissa: Oh, we can do it, yes, and we can do it in unbelievable amounts of time, which I never feel confident in with someone with ADHD, I don't feel confident in my time management skills. So the added stress and pressure of performing actually helps. Even though I wanna push it away. I don't wanna put myself under the duress, but I also know I need it. So, um, if you discover that about yourself, like, well then maybe I do need to seek some commission clients so that I have a deadline so that I have to answer to someone.
And it will almost drag you kicking and screaming, uh, towards discovery. Right? If you're not able to sort of self-motivate that way, then set yourself up to get motivated by, by force of of circumstance, right? So
[00:26:56] Marijanel: I call that outside pressure, and it's a trick that I need to use as well in my own life and creativity.
I need to give myself outside pressure to get my dreams out really, because if I have a dream just inside me floating around, I'll like, I'll do it in Marijanel time. And it could take years, like even to begin podcasting was a dream of like six year dream that I didn't move on until I had some outside pressure, which was actually part of the Bold Artist podcast coming about.
And so I know that that outside pressure of any form, whether it's a client, a commission, uh, an accountability partner, a mentor, someone who's holding you to, uh, getting your dreams or your, your creativity out, it's, it's key. It's really vital to have some outside pressure because, uh, if we just like do it in our own time, it, it doesn't always get done.
[00:27:52] Melissa: Well, fear has a way of manifesting in, in these, uh, you know, delays, right? Because I'm just like, I'm exactly, I'm being a complete hypocrite at this very moment because I have been putting off going live and doing live streaming as well, just because I'm like, well, I don't know if I'm exactly ready or my room doesn't isn't right and I need more equipment and, and I've just noticed my excuses piling up, right? And I thought, come on. You know, I have to sometimes sit myself down and have a little chat and say, okay, life's going on. You do have something to offer. Um, people who want and connect with you will want to learn and listen. And I'm sure you've, you've discovered that with your view, with your listeners.
They, they're, people... you attract the people. You know, who hear you, who get you, who want to learn from you. And um, I'm just really scared to take that step. So I'm very excited to be on this today. It's very much.
[00:28:54] Marijanel: It's a step in the right direction, for sure. So, Melissa, if we were gonna wrap up today's episode with, uh, you know, a little bit of a, a summary, I would like to ask you, what is your secret sauce?
So here's Melissa. You are so creative, so full of life and energy and boundless imagination, and you've taken something as simple as wool and turn it into just, you've brought it alive through all your characters, and it just feels like you never stop. That you just always have this, you know, flow of, of creativity coming out of you?
What's your secret sauce?
[00:29:34] Melissa: Well, you know, honestly, I, it's a great question. I don't, I don't know that it's a secret, but it's, it's very much just keep moving forward towards your, towards something. Get that creativity out of you every day whether, and stop thinking that everything you touch needs to be a, a gallery worthy art piece.
That that's not the case from any artist on the planet. It just isn't realistic. So, you know, you set yourself some realistic goals by saying, I just wanna use my hands and my creativity every day towards something because it should first and foremost bring you joy. If you're a creative being, it's just you.
It's like breathing , right? Yeah. But then real life gets on top of that. Well, it costs money. Yes, it, you know, art supplies unfortunately cost money, but there's lots of workarounds there too. You can, you can take classes where a lot of things are included that you don't have to invest in at home. You know, you can, you can do a lot or upcycle. Uh, I do a lot of upcycling in my art because again, art supplies are expensive. So remove your barriers and make messes. You have to be completely, um, as devoted to making a mess as you are to making art. And that
[00:30:54] Marijanel: Ooh, that's a good one. That's a good one.
[00:30:56] Melissa: Well, it blows a lot of people's mind because especially if you're of that personality type who's just very hyper focused on one, um, medium and one achieving a certain level, um, of skill, which is critical. We all wanna get better at our skills, but. , if you're, if you're stifling your own creativity by over focusing on just the skills. Skills are sort of something that, that develop and happen, um, as you play.
And it's right down to the science of when we are children. Play is what helps us learn our environment and learn our boundaries. Right? So when you don't allow yourself to play with your art supplies and with new mediums and discover what they do, and put it in that memory bank for that moment that you are either a, required to do a job that is a little bit above your comfort zone, and you think I'm still gonna say yes to that job because I think I can do it.
I have the knowledge. I just haven't executed yet. But had I been in my basement playing around with all this stuff, I'd at least feel like I do understand what it does and how long it takes to dry or you know, all the things that all these different mediums have within their characteristics. So you must give yourself equal opportunity to play and it feels awful.
It feels like you're spending money and not making money and it takes time and it can be frustrating. And I literally are come, am coming off of a week just like that, where I said to my husband everything I touch just turns to garbage. Like it was just a week like that.
[00:32:38] Marijanel: We've all had those weeks, Melissa. We've had all had those weeks.
[00:32:40] Melissa: And I thought, what am I doing? Oh, I had all the awful thoughts of, oh, I'm in the wrong industry and Oh, I should give it up. And I just was beating myself up over it and you know, it's, if I just sat down and took a little journal of what I actually learned from this week is invaluable. It's invaluable.
[00:32:58] Marijanel: Yeah, sure. So what I've heard you say not to do, what I've heard you say here is your secret sauce is, play. Play and experimentation. Thank you so much, Melissa.
[00:33:07] Melissa: And permission.
[00:33:08] Marijanel: And permission. Give yourself permission to play. I love that. Thank you so much. I know we actually have more to talk about and I would like to do a part two with you, but for today I'm gonna wrap up today's episode.
Thank you so much for being here on the Bold Artist Podcast and for sharing with us all about your just diverse work. And your ability to play. And I love how you just encouraged us to remove our barriers, remove our barriers, and begin to play.
[00:33:37] Melissa: Thank you so much for having me.
[00:33:40] Marijanel: Thank you for joining us on The Bold Artist Podcast.
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