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Meet Michelle of Silentcheesecake Designs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michelle.

Michelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in South Los Angeles. It was a tough environment to grow up in, but I found solace through creative outlets and Nature. I spent a lot of time drawing, painting, and designing fashion accessories for myself. I was raised by a single mom, so I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They were very creative people who inspired me. My grandmother was a seamstress and my grandfather was a nature lover and carpenter, who built window frames as a retiree. That made a profound impact on me as a kid.

In my late teens, I published an illustrated book, did freelance illustration work, but being an animator was my goal. During my second year in Art school, my daughter was diagnosed with ASD. She needed a lot of care, so I quit school to be with her full-time. Around then, I started making specimen sculptures for myself. I never intended to sell my sculptures but I needed to find a creative way to bring in income and be home to provide the care my daughter needed. I started selling on Etsy and at a few shops, including one I loved to visit as a kid, Necromance.

Since then I’ve worked at various cons, sold at shops domestic and abroad, and met so many amazing people. It has been quite the journey I never expected.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has definitely not been smooth. I have had support, but there have been challenges both personal and business. Lots of struggles, heartbreak, and roadblocks. Times where I felt alone and misunderstood. However, I appreciate what I’ve learned from those lessons and from my mistakes. I’ve come to accept my limits and be more mindful going forward. Personally, I don’t like to stay in a painful past. I really prefer to learn what I can, grow, and move on.

Also, If I can offer one piece of advice to any creative person, it would be to not forget your passion or what inspired you from the beginning. Focus on that during challenging times. I know it sounds cliche, but it’s what I tap into when I feel overwhelmed. My sister said that to me and it has been the best piece of advice I’ve heard.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I’m a designer and Illustrator, but I’m best known for my wax preserved specimen vials. I make specimen sculpture jewelry and displays with real flora and fauna. The work is very tedious and almost always dangerous. I’ve had many accidents and some nasty scars from it, so I don’t recommend working with wax. Resin and gel sanitizer are two safer mediums to work with.

My work has evolved a lot throughout the years and I’m always brainstorming new ways of combining my love of nature, science, and art nouveau. I’m currently incorporating electroforming into some of my vial caps and I can’t wait to experiment with organic pieces.

I work with real flora and fauna. I stay clear and open about my sources, but everyone has their opinions and I do my best to educate. But, I know my work isn’t for everyone and that’s ok, too. I think what I’m most proud of and what has stayed with me throughout this journey are the people that have come up, messaged, and told me my work reminds them of happy times in their childhoods. That curiosity and fondness for the natural world sparked again. Especially with kids. That means so much to me.

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