If you love handmade local artisan crafts that are…
Meet Melissa of Meow Kapow, here is a bit about her and her artwork…
Melissa Stewart is a full time artist and educator. As the owner of Meow Kapow!, Melissa’s passion is making collages and creating handmade goods from vintage ephemera. A 1997 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Melissa majored in Geography and Marine Biology. After working full time as a teacher and teacher educator, she decided to turn her hobbies of sewing and paper crafting into a business. Now known as Meow Kapow! you can find a growing collection of vibrant and unique art and wares.
When did you first get into crafts, and have you always been into recycled/upcycled crafts?
I’ve always been a maker of things. I was lucky to have a stepmom who loved to sew and craft, and I even worked at selling my handiworks at a young age. I officially opened my business in 2008 making a variety of things, but it quickly became obvious to me that working with old paper was my passion.
What is the story and inspiration behind your work? What do you do when you get a creative block, how do you get inspired again?
Of all the things I make, collage art is my favorite process. I absolutely love the hands on aspect of tearing, painting, assembling, and gluing together unexpected scenes. I find that when I get stuck, one of the best ways to get inspired again is to pick up an old book and start cutting! Just make a pile of cutouts and imagine how they might fit together.
When did you first get into crafting and art? Do you typically work with the same mediums?
My business was definitely established as crafting. In 2008, I was sewing small appliqué bags, pouring resin jewelry, and making whatever I thought was fun! Eventually, I streamlined my craft business to focus on stationery and things made with old paper. Now, my shop primarily contains sketchbooks recycled books and comics, and I use the scraps left over from my art to make button items like bottle openers and coasters. While collage is my primary medium, I often incorporate painted backgrounds and small found objects to create mixed media pieces
What project are you most proud of ever making?
This is a difficult question to answer. I am ALWAYS experimenting, always trying to improve my skills. With some projects, I know immediately that I am done, and I get great delight from the results. With others, they hang around, never feeling quiet right.
What do you like to do for fun when your not making art? What is the one things people would be shocked to know about you?
I have a few other hobbies, including crochet, embroidery, and sewing. While it is taking me a lifetime, I am learning to sew clothes from vintage patterns, and alter them to fit me. Something a lot of people don’t know about me is that I actually have 3 jobs: I am a teacher, I help run a seasonal art show (this is our 39th year), and I own my business “Meow Kapow!”
Who are some artists, bloggers or designers you look up to in the Eco Friendly community?
I really admire the work of Jason Mecier, who makes mosaic portraits using trash, among other materials. I love sculptures made out of junk, especially robots. I recently discovered the company FOBOTS (Found Object Robots) while visiting a Houston art show, and I fell in love with them.
Why do you think the Eco-Friendly, Recycled, Upcycled Movment is so important? What is your one best tip for a small change anyone can make in their life to be kinder to the environment?
I love that there are people out there who have the eye to give an object one last chance to be something special. For me, it is old books and papers that are going into the trashcan because they are believed to have no collectible value. I greatly admire those who are creating installations and exciting pieces from toxic garbage.
Because I studied marine ecology in collage, I got to see first hand the devastating effects that plastics are having on aquatic ecosystems. One small change people can make is to use reusable grocery bags instead of plastic bags. It takes a little while to get into the habit, but once you do, it is easy!
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