Interview with artisan mellisea

15 min read

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ArtisanCraft's avatar
In the depths of The Netherlands lives Melanie Ansems, an artist of different mediums, she creates dog-handbags, mini-crochet & polymer figurines as a Deviantart artist :devimellisea:

Madame with her dog - close up by mellisea

When was it, approximately, that you began crafting & was there any training involved?

I always loved the crafts-lessons at school – especially when there was clay involved.  I got my first packets of Fimo-clay when I was about 9 years old, from my aunt who used to make name-plates for doors.
I got a little booklet with gnomes and I started to enjoy working with Fimo more and more I (well, my mum – at that time) bought me some spatulas, some more Fimo and booklets to get inspired. Going to doll and bear fairs got me totally inspired to start making trolls and other figures. I have never had any training, I just learned by doing it and trying again if I was not satisfied.

Muffin playing with leaves 2 by mellisea

Can you give us a descriptive process of creating a piece?

What are the mediums used?

Because most of my polymer pieces are not so big I usually don’t need a wire frame. I always use aluminum foil as a base and than work the polymer clay over the foil. Sometimes I use cocktail-sticks for thin, long parts – or wire.

Home Sweet Home 2 by mellisea

What are your preferred materials that can be used & how does it affect your pieces?

I use needles, spatulas, dental-tools, a toothbrush, cocktail-sticks and a knife. I probably use anything that is near lying on the table to me when I am working.
There are 2 spatulas who are my first, which I have for almost 20 years now but I still use them on every piece!

Old Woman collecting wood by mellisea

Owing to the fact that some of your sculptures are
Crochet & some are made using polymer, are your crafts pre designed before you make them?

No, I don’t make pre sketches or scales. I have an idea in my head, while I am working on a piece, I think about it and turn this imaginary scale to have a good view from every side. :)

WIP 1 Little Girl by mellisea

You use a lot of colours with your polymer sculptures, does the colour combination comes naturally or does having to work with polymer proves the task to be difficult?

I love natural, dark shades. Most of the polymer colours are too bright for me. I mix them with brown or another polymer. I love brown, blue, green and purple shades. I use them a lot.

Old Woman collect. mushrooms by mellisea

Approximately how long does it take to create an individual piece?

I get asked that a lot. It is always so difficult to say because I usually don’t have the time to work whole days on it. Sometime it will take weeks or even months, but if you would count it in hours… I guess a crochet piece takes about 8 till 10 hours and a polymer piece would take about 20 to 24 hours.

Old Grannies by mellisea

Most of your sculptures are just about bigger than a coin but in the mass creation of Bedtime Story by mellisea was the difficulty greater?

I love the small details! In the piece above are more figures than I usually make but still I  wanted to add some details like the bat scarf, hair, the spider, laces on the shoes and buttons,. In the book I sculptured the story of Little Red Riding Hood. You don’t see that on those pictures.

Are you influenced by any other artist?

There are many sculpting artists which work I love. As I was a kid I loved the dolls from a Dutch sculpturing artist called Ria Odijk.
I have always admired the work of Michelle Bradshaw - knows as :devipixiwillow: on DA, I already knew her work years before I got in touch with DA. I love the baby dolls from the Dutch doll artist called Kim van de Wetering.
For my work I get more inspiration from Children’s books or movies. I love the work of the French illustrator called Jean Baptist Monge or the Rien Poortvliet’s Gnomes.  Looking trough their books gets me really inspired.

Dragon closeup by mellisea

Apart from creating sculptures, you also paint- does this require a different skill & is the creation process any different?

Yes, it is really different. For me it is more difficult to convert an idea in my head into 2D on paper than in 3D with clay. Sometimes I feel like painting because my boyfriend paints and I get inspired but in the end I like sculpting more. Sculpting gives me more satisfaction.

'Le Chef' by mellisea

Admiring your gallery I couldn't help but notice that a few of your pieces the concept would repeat in a different form such as Baby Girl 2 by mellisea to Small baby by mellisea or Little Bear by mellisea to Teddybear - close up by mellisea
was it just coincidence or is there a significance?

Hehe, a coincidence I guess. Between the two babies for example were 2 years. I made the sculpture baby as a gift and the crochet baby because I wondered if I would be able to crochet a baby.

Would you share with us your favorite piece & what it means to you?

I guess I have 2:
The Madame and Together Alone.  
I have made the Madame in 2003/2004. I still love her expression. When you have made a piece, after a while you always think you could do better now but with this piece I always smile when I see it and I still feel satisfied.
On the other piece, which I have made 2 years ago, is a personal story attached. I started it after seeing the movie ‘La Vieille dame et les pigeons’ from the director Sylvain Chomet. In this period a very close person of mine was very ill and in terminal phase of cancer. While working on the dog I locked it away because I did not have time for it at that moment. Normally when I work on something and lock it away I don’t finish it anymore. Months after that person died I took it out of the closet and somehow I still felt like finishing it. Seeing this piece still makes me feel good.

Madame by mellisea Together Alone by mellisea

Is there a particular piece that is most famous amongst your fans & supporters, if so do you have any suspicion as to why?

Hehe, I guess it will be my version of ‘Gollum’ and my crochet ‘Wall-E’ because everybody knows Gollum and Wall-E. But I also hope they like it because of my skills. :smile:

Wall- E  in my hand by mellisea 'Gollum' by mellisea

Have you ever participated in shows or exhibitions?

No, as a teenager I made stuff for fairs. But I always wanted to participate in shows and exhibitions. I plan to and I hope to do that soon. I would love to exhibit on the Doll Fair in Rotterdam (NL) but I would have to work hard for it.

Swinging Monster by mellisea

Would you please share with us some of your accomplishments you've earned through creating your crafts & where you see it taking you in the future?

I always loved sculpturing, doing it for almost 20 years now. About 2 ½ years ago I started to get a disease on my fingers which doctors can not really diagnose. Having sore spots and swollen, infected fingers made it hard for me to sculpt because I could not ‘feel’ the clay as I usually did. Not being able to sculpt was a hell for me but I still wanted to do ‘something’. So I started to try to make mini crochet figures. I love to crochet too but I can’t get the details I would like on it, as on my sculptures (and the yarn does not ‘glide’ comfortable about the sore spots). I tried something bigger – my first dog handbag.   
With the dog handbag I can work bigger, sew small details on it and spare my fingers a little. Having many people supporting me on Deviant Art and liking my work, made me realize I can do something with my talents. I want to participate in shows and exhibitions and I hope to start something in the near future to sell my dog bags. Maybe someday I can make a living out of it…
I guess my personal accomplishment is that I realized I can do something with my talents and not to focus only on one thing but explore other crafts too.
Rufus handbag 1 by mellisea

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cl2007's avatar
excellent interview!