Photographs of Michele Bango creating in her studio, which can be found in Warren County.
“I start with a blank piece of fabric and turn it into art.”
Michele Bango has been creating things with her hands for most of her life. When she was about 9 years old, she first learned to make clothes for her dolls, using her Grandma's treadle sewing machine (which she still has).
A self-taught textile artist and sewist, Bango has a background in floral design.
Her original artisan bears and animals are created using mohair, alpaca or synthetic fabrics, along with real repurposed fur or synthetic coats and clothing, often found at local thrift stores.
Bango sews larger pieces on a machine but primarily sews together the materials by hand.
"It is a passion for me. I love how they come to life as the process goes on," she said.
From miniatures to nearly life size, her projects range in scale, and she treats the material based on each project, using inks to paint the creatures when needed.
Bango makes each piece in her home studio. Two large windows flood the room with natural light. A microscope rests on the work table, alongside magnifying devices. A vice clenches her latest project – allowing her to work with both hands.
“My passion and love for creating is woven into each unique piece,” she said.
These images were captured by Karen Heltzel as part of the 2018 Creative Makers Exhibit, a traveling showcase of creative makers working in the PA Wilds.
More about the show here. Proceeds from the sales of the Creative Makers Exhibit photographic tiles & posters will go back into the work of the Wilds Cooperative and the extension of this project as we will continue photographing the creative makers living and working in the PA Wilds.
Each tile measures 8 in x 8 in and is mounted on foam core that is approximately 3/4 in thick and comes with adhesive attached for wall mounting.
Please note: Orders for photographic tiles are placed in a batch at the end of each month with the vendor, and then take an additional 2 weeks for delivery. Please be prepared that your order could take 4-6 weeks for delivery.
Meet the Maker
Over 10 years ago, a groundbreaking effort began to brand a quarter of the Commonwealth as the "Pennsylvania Wilds" and invest in it to create a premier nature, heritage and cultural destination that would fuel local economies and inspire stewardship among the people who live, work, play and visit the region. Engaging the region's artists and craftspeople in the work is key to building a meaningful regional brand and infusing pride into economically-distressed communities. The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, our membership program that supports artisans and entrepreneurs through such regional branding, was born out of this belief. Today, nearly 200 local artists and craftspeople participate in this juried arts and business development program. "Creative Makers" reflects the splendor and uniqueness of the Pennsylvania Wilds landscape and rural lifestyle, and the resourcefulness and talent of the artists who live and work here. PA Wilds Juried photographers captured the images, and our goal with the exhibit is to help tell the story of the creative individuals living and working in the PA Wilds.
This project is made possible through grants from the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts.