One of the many pleasures of having our shop in Ballard is the times we find an opportunity to interact with our community. We have great restaurants, shops and artists working in our little neighborhood and nearly all the local businesses are owned and operated independently (ok, so we do have a Starbuck’s). We love being acquainted with so many entrepreneurs in our business community. Here’s a great example: We were seeking a resource for a simple wristlet bag for our shop, not a collection but a single item we could stock in many colors. We didn’t have to look far, right around the corner is an artist collective, Fifty Four Sixteen. Inside there is a group of spaces occupied by creative people of many disciplines. One of these creatives is Michelle Pozniak who, among other things, develops “Miishka Handbags”. She makes mostly custom and bespoke bags made from new leather, calfskin, pony hair and repurposed leather garments.
Michelle’s talents go far beyond handbags, one visit to her studio and you’ll be in awe of the eclectic talents of this artist. Pysanka eggs, soaps and blown glass surround the workspace, all of these are created by Michelle. On the walls, creative installations of some ordinary objects, arranged in a way that reflects the artist and the connection to her materials. The vintage machinery (a sewing machine from long ago, a vacuum cleaner that could have been her grandmother’s) are reminders that today’s technology just isn’t necessary.
As you might imagine, Michelle’s studio is full of stories. The space is modest but everywhere you look, there is something to explore. We asked about one installation, the wall of clear glass balls filled with scraps of paper. Michelle explained that it was a small part of a larger piece, a portrait of her father that she created for her final project in art school. The little balls have notes to the father she never knew. We asked about the Pysanky. That talent came from her Ukranian grandmother who taught Michelle the technique and now, Michelle also teaches this craft. When asked how Miishka Handbags came to be, Michelle explains how she created leather mitts for an art project in college. Soon after, a friend asked Michelle to make her a bag and before she knew it, all of her friends wanted handbags too. A happy accident that has led her to a creative enterprise. Michelle designed our simple wristlet clutch bag and you can find it here. Her studio is open to the public on Sundays during the Farmer’s Market and she also maintains an Etsy site. Maybe stop by on a Sunday and consider that custom handbag you have always wanted? We think you’ll enjoy the visit and hope you’ll find her studio to be an inspiring workspace.