Michelle Sepanski, Moderne Kumihimo Artist
In my first blog, I promised you some interviews with Kumihimo experts! So, let me introduce you to Michelle Sepanski. If you know anything about this talented artist, you may also know her brand name, Michelle Moderne. If you haven’t seen her work before, then I think you’re in for a real treat.
I am really grateful to Michelle for agreeing to do this interview. She has shared her own background, and also gives you some brilliant tips. So, whether you’re a Kumihimo beginner (like me), or more experienced, I think you’re going to love this!
Meet Michelle Sepanski…
How did you get started with Kumihimo, Michelle?
By chance, I walked into my LBS and inquired about the prices of the necklaces on display. I was disheartened to learn that they were not for sale but that I could make them myself and they offered a free ‘learn a stitch’ every Wednesday.
Now intrigued, I went back the next Wednesday and immediately became hooked. After taking months of classes, I came across some youtube videos for kumihimo and thus started my journey with kumihimo. I mainly focus on beaded kumihimo but hope to expand my horizons in the coming year.
Do you enjoy other forms of beading too?
Absolutely, I have taken many masterclasses on a variety of techniques (beadweaving, loom, bead embroidery, etc) and I’m excited to learn anything related to beading. I feel as an artist, it’s important to understand what other elements you might be able to bring into your design. For instance, I created a kumihimo lariat and needed a slider in between. So, I designed an odd count peyote tube to fit over both ropes.
Is beading now your full-time career, or is it still a hobby?
Currently it is my full-time career since I left the world of marketing as it became too stressful. But I’m currently looking for something part-time to supplement my income.
How would you describe your style?
Many would say it is “classy”, however I also like to switch it up and add in some colourful and playful designs. I also like trying to find new creative techniques in kumihimo to set me apart from other designers.
Who, or what, inspires your work?
I‘m so grateful for my beading friends who are constantly inspiring me. They are all supportive of my love for kumihimo and often suggest designs. Then it’s up to me to figure out how to translate that to kumihimo.
Do you have a favourite piece (or pieces) of work?
The design I’m most proud of was my very first “published” piece, Copper Canyon. I won a contest on the Kumihimo with Beads FB group. My design was chosen as one of five on the header and it’s still there. Now if I could just remember how I created the beaded tassel portion, then I could write it up!
(Copper Canyon, Michelle Sepanski’s favourite piece. And her beautiful workspace).
What is your beading space like?
I’m very blessed to have a dedicated space to work in with a large writing desk and a view of the pool. I love watching the birds when I need a break.
Do you teach beadwork at all?
I love teaching kumihimo most of all, since it is so gratifying to see the joy everyone has learning a new design.
I first started in my LBS and then progressed to other local stores. And from there I’ve now taught at the Tucson Gem Show and am slated to teach at Bead & Button and BeadFest. I also plan to expand my teaching nationwide with the first stop on the West Coast of Florida early next year.
Has your work been published anywhere?
Yes, my work has been published in Bead & Button and Beadwork Magazine. And I’ve just started to work on a book which looks like will take longer than I thought.
Do you sell your work?
At first, I tried craft fairs, but found it too time consuming and often disappointing. So now I only sell in a local Art Gallery and to friends.
Do you do other forms of craft as well?
I used to do a bit of scrapbooking but that has gone by the wayside.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start learning Kumihimo?
Start with some basic supplies and give it a whirl. There are many more resources such as Youtube videos and books out there now than in the past. So, these will help you along the way. And yes, you will make a mistake or two, but that is how you will truly learn. Just have fun and experiment with all the techniques and bead variations.
For anyone who already knows some basic Kumihimo braids, what would you recommend they try next? What will help them improve their skills and become more advanced?
There is so much to learn in kumihimo. You can expand your horizons to the MANY braid structures (Edo Yatsu, Kusari Tsunagi, Kara Yatsu, etc). Or to working with more cords. Maybe you try working on a Marudai. Or learn how to incorporate unconventional beads. Frankly, the sky is the limit.
Can you give any tips about the best tools and materials to use for Kumihimo?
I created a slide presentation of some helpful tools as part of the intro to kumihimo in the Seed Beads and More FB group that I’ll share with you. I recommend a 6” disk with a 35mm hole, 45 gram gatorweight, weighted (or unweighted if you prefer) bobbins, and a big eye collapsible needle.
(Note: if you want a little more information about Kumihimo tools, check out this blog).
Where can people find your Kumihimo patterns?
You can find my patterns in my Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MichelleModerne
(‘Decadent Silver’ Kumihimo jewelry set by Michelle Sepanski)
…very much to Michelle Sepanski!
Now, I hope that has left you wanting to find out more. As Michelle just said, you can find her patterns on Etsy.
She also has an inspiring Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/michellemoderne/
And, I particularly love her Facebook page, with Michelle’s ‘Tip of the Day’, as well as plenty of ‘eye candy’. So, you can check that out here: https://www.facebook.com/michellemodernejewelry/