Say hello to Ashley Mae and get ready to be blown away.
|Miniature handcut metal and beaded shoes|
Tell us a little about who you are and where you come from.
I'm originally from Northern California. We (Mom and my brother, Arthur) moved from there to Southern California when I was three, and then to Arizona where I live currently. I'm self-taught and self-motivated. Most of the patterns I use are Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, and so on, so I really have no idea what any of the text says. I can only work with the pictures to create things from them and so have adapted to working without written instructions for crafts. When it comes to text-based patterns, I find myself absurdly lost for even the most simplistic items. Of the four custom pattern I've created now they're almost entirely drawings with little arrows and stars rather than descriptive instructions because of this.
What's your craft and how did you get to do it in the first place?
My current craft that has most of my attention is beading! I started in about fifth grade doing the basic things kids do, like the lizards that hang off keychains or backpacks. Around eleventh grade I did some basic jewelry and in 2009 I created my very first mini beaded dress.
|Beaded Halloween dress|
I think this is one of the most asked questions - where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from the desire to create miniatures. Since I can't afford to buy a dollhouse and fill it with perfectly crafted to-scale goodies covered in crystal or handstitched cushions, I decided to start doing it myself. I've been addicted to miniatures since before we left Northern California, so you could say I'm doing exactly what I've always wanted to do. I also enjoy staring at dresses from the 1800s and early 1900s for inspiration, especially all the bustles and bows they covered everything back then.
Tell us a fun thing about yourself.
A fun thing about myself ... hmm ... well, I do consider myself to be a Trekkie! I started with the 2009 movie, then proceeded to watch every single series starting with the original all the way to Enterprise, including the cartoons and the movies, in order. Yes! From the original pilot to the newest Into Darkness movie I've seen it all. I have an original series communicator that says "He's dead, Jim." (I'm not a Trekkie myself, but that IS fun!!)
Do you do other crafts, if yes, what?
The other main craft I do is cross-stich. I run the "stitchingpirates" group on deviantART which as far as I'm aware is the largest cross-stitch community there is. It's much more time consuming than beading is normally, but it also provides me with a lot of relaxation. I have more patterns than I'd ever be able to stitch in a lifetime of stitching every day nonstop. Sometimes it makes me happy just to stare at my pattern collection rather than do any actual stitchwork with it.
|Nine lives kitties (this is NOT a painting, it's stitched, so click through to see it in full!)|
Which one of your pieces is your absolute favorite? Which one was the hardest to make and why?
My favorite piece is my most recent Christmas dress. I was really reluctant to put her up for sale since I adore her so much, but even when I was planning out her color placement, I knew she would be for someone else to love. Christmas is my very favorite day of the year. In the past I would start creating gifts in June for my friends and still barely make it in time. Glitter comes out of boxes from people who say they hate glitter, ribbons are everywhere, wrapping paper is perfectly layered to keep secrets ... it's just the perfect day every time.
|Merry Christmas bead dress|
The most difficult piece for me is a dress that hasn't had her final photoshoot yet. Her name is Eumelia and she's based off a drawing from a guy I met on deviantART. The original artwork can be found over here (please have a look, I don't want to post the picture here without his permission) He provided some additional sketches of her from the back and sides, so I could be as accurate as possible. I created the pattern from near scratch, and by that I mean I took several other dress patterns and started to mash them together while recreating entire sections of colorwork. I want to say that the most difficult part was the gradient in the skirt, but in truth it was creating those puff sleeves! The sleeves are an entirely custom pattern that I reverse-engineered, starting with the shoulder-armpit length, then the armwidth, then curving back up, then filling that in ... in the end the puffs are surprisingly stiff and durable, so nobody can walk by and crush them! All in all, from puffy sleeves to frilly skirt, I have over thirty hours of pattern creation clocked and about thirty-four hours of actual beading time. I'm super proud of her and intend to do lots of recolors.
Is there someone whom you admire and who inspires you?
Oh, surprisingly, yes! There's actually quite a few people that I admire who admire me back. You, for example, are one of them, Cat! (Aww, thank you! :-D) Of course any of my friends from deviantART I count among the people who admire me that I admire back. There's a handful of other people that I've met by bouncing around Facebook that are featured in magazines and everything with their beadwork, the kind of people that have beading for longer than I was even a thought in my Mom's mind! They say really kind things about my artwork and it encourages me to continue doing my best.
|Miniature cowgirl boots|
If you had free choice of just one supply you can use for your craft, what would you be dreaming of, no matter how expensive?
If I could pick any supply for my craft it would be the addition of Swarovski crystals! I dream of it already, without a doubt. You might think it silly, but it has less to do with the crystal sparkling amazingness that they are and more to do with the fact they come in 3 mm sizes. I've been unable to find 3 mm beads in glass, but I'll share my tips with you guys, fishing lure shops (of all things!!) do carry 3 mm plastic beads that I've been using. They come in all sorts of colors. Swarovski crystals would be absolutely perfect, they're just too expensive for me to buy the hundreds I'd need for dresses.
Do you sell online, if yes, where can we find you?
I have just started selling online this month! I was waiting to graduate college to begin since I didn't want to be distracted from schoolwork. That being said, I haven't made any sales yet, and there's only a few things listed right now while I get all my customization mock-ups finished and sample pieces done.
I can be found here through Etsy.
And announcements for it are found on my Facebook page.
|Beaded Western cowboy hat|
Curious? You should be. And don't forget to go by Ashley Mae's deviantART page as well!
Thank you for this interview. I discovered pieces in your gallery I hadn't even know yet!!