On her way
By Marilyn Smulders - January 28, 2009
Michelle SaintOnge lives by the do-it-yourself mantra. The Halifax self-described “starving artist” has built up her own business from scratch, selling handmade, hand-printed handbags and custom portraits.
And now she’s been invited to meet the ultimate do-it-yourselfer Martha Stewart.
“I’m ridiculously excited,” says Ms. SaintOnge, who’ll appear on the Martha Stewart Show on February 11. “It’s almost surreal. It’s been a big goal of mine and I feel like I worked really hard to get here.”
While on the show, Ms. SaintOnge will demonstrate how to make easy, fuss-free silk-screen prints using materials including an old picture frame, sheer curtain fabric and a squeegee. One of Ms. SaintOnge’s designs will be available to viewers as a stencil that viewers can download online and cut out to use with the frame.
The design is modified from a print featured at Ms. SaintOnge’s art exhibition, The Private Lives of Cats and Dogs, at Fred on Agricola Street. The original print featured an adorable pug puppy unraveling a roll of toilet paper; the new version stars a French bulldog, the kind of dog that Martha has.
In fact, a lot of Ms. SaintOnge’s work features animals, including the mischievous panty-stealer Chichi who appears on her weekender bags and gets a stern finger-wagging on her tote bags. It’s her way of parlaying her university education—she studied animal behavior psychology while at Dalhousie—into her career. Her new handbag line, now in development, features more exotic creatures—a monkey, jaguar and elephant—and bright, zesty purples, oranges and greens.
After getting her degree, she studied textile design at Sheridan College’s School of Craft and Design in Toronto and then worked as a textile designer for the Hudson Bay Company in Toronto and as a freelance artist for a studio in New York City. Four years ago, she moved her business back to the east coast.
She’s hoping her Martha Stewart appearance will give her the boost she needs by driving do-it-yourselfers to her blog, printcutsew.com, and her online shop, michellesaintonge.com.
“Right now, a big part of the business is the blog, where I teach people how to do silk screen printing inexpensively and do it well,” she says. “It should appeal to the home crafter, which is definitely Martha’s audience.”
In the meantime, her friends are pitching in to help get her to New York’s NBC Studios for her appearance; they’re holding a raffle, with prizes that include Michelle SaintOnge original portraits, prints and handbags. Interested? Tickets are available from Doreen SaintOnge, Communications and Marketing, Room 218, Henry Hicks A&A Building.