My story

Michaela Stephens

Hi, my name is Michaela. I live in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland (Queensland, Australia) and this is my story …

the road not taken

I have tinkered with ‘making stuff’ my whole life. Until recently, I didn’t seriously entertain the idea of turning my passion for arts & crafts into more than a hobby. I believed I should always hold down a ‘real job’ and enjoy ‘creating’ only in my spare time.

Years ago, I grew sick and tired of working in the corporate world (the six-figure salary just wasn’t worth all the stress and bother). Still holding onto the notion that I needed a ‘real job’, I decided to try my hand at freelancing. I have since become more and more disillusioned with that as well – it seems to be just another form of ‘working for the man’ rather than actually working for myself.

I have always delighted in the process of designing my artistic ‘creations’, so …

I recently made up my mind to follow my personal ‘road not taken’ – and I am hoping that will make all the difference!

my background

I was born in 1969 and grew up on a sizeable sheep farm in the Northern Tablelands of NSW. Mum was a professional potter so I had an early introduction to the wonderfully chaotic world of arts & crafts.

During school I enjoyed the more scholarly subjects (e.g. maths and science) which (looking back) was more to do with the quality of teachers (in a school of about 500 students) than anything else. And, back then, ‘art’ was definitely not promoted as a career path. As a result, in 1987 and straight out of high school, my first significant life-choice was to pursue an ‘intellectual career’. I headed off to uni for a double-major in physics! Mind you, I continued to experiment with art & craft – especially when I was procrastinating about study ;-)

I earned my honours degree in astrophysics from the University of Wollongong and, in 1991, moved back home and started some serious job hunting. Well … according to my potential employers I was either too qualified (e.g. “too intelligent for a lab assistant”) or not qualified enough (e.g. “sorry, you need to hold a PhD for this position”).

During the years I spent chasing my tail, I filled some of my spare time at a local TAFE. I attended classes in ‘Fine Arts’ and ‘Design Methods and Principles’ (in a small country town you make do with what is available).

My adventure at TAFE led me to apply to the Queensland College of Art for entry to a Diploma of Art. In 1994 I was accepted (to my surprise) and I chose to focus on the field of commercial art. This was my gateway to a full-time position as a graphic designer with the Queensland Government.

In 1998 – just four years after the World Wide Web was first introduced to the public – my role as a graphic designer expanded to include the creation of websites. I spent countless hours teaching myself web design and database programming. Then, in 2004, my manager encouraged me to return to formal study to facilitate a promotion. In 2006 I graduated from the Queensland University of Technology with a Graduate Diploma in IT and became a systems administrator/senior analyst.

I started to pick up some freelance work in my spare time and, by the end of 2007, I had enough regular clients to quit ‘working’ and start full-time freelancing. But … I was spending less and less time on my personal interests.

Then 2008 saw an epic ‘tree-change’ unfold – I moved back to the country and gave birth to my amazing son! I continued to freelance remotely but most of my time was spent being a full-time mum.

In mid-2014, my son was diagnosed as ‘high functioning autistic’ (a topic worthy of a blog post or two, stay tuned). The following year he started prep/yr1 at a local state school with under 100 students. I became heavily involved with the local school community and I was promptly convinced to join the P&C association (as secretary, then as treasurer). I also managed to gain a little part-time work as a teacher aide.

Over the next couple of years, my son’s anxiety worsened and he was no longer coping with the school environment. In May 2018 I decided to educate him from home – and we haven’t looked back since.

Late last year (2019) I decided to give up freelancing entirely and move on with the next stage of my life – focusing on my arts & crafts.

current situation

So here I am in 2020: a single mum living in a small bungalow on my parent’s 40-acre property. My parents are semi-retired, they run a few head of cattle and are attempting to build a market garden. We also have a small studio gallery on the property, but visitors are few and far between. I help them out daily, and I’m home-schooling my remarkably ausome 11-yr-old. We’re trying to save $$ to build my soon-to-be teen his own bedroom! We have numerous pets from dogs, cats to ducks – even a few ant colonies.

Arts & crafts are my escape – my ‘me time’ – which I try to find time for in between everything else. Some of my favourite materials and mediums include clay, glass, timber, beads, found items, resin, copper, paper, yarn, canvas, acrylic paints, inks, watercolours, pencils, pens, fabric, thread and photography.

I am looking forward to all the fabulous things I will be able to create and share with the world.

next steps

I am currently enjoying the process of working on this website. I have recently listed a bunch of items completed over the last few years (by myself and other family members) including fused glass pendants, magnets and bookmarks.

I will continue adding some of my own recently completed work, including needlework, mono-prints, mixed media items and wire-wrapped jewellery. I am also working on a series of photographs that I am converting into images suitable for adult colouring – this is new and very exciting – so please keep an eye out for these.