Artist Profile: Jeanie Mossa of Planet Calamari
Jeanie Mossa of Planet Calamari remembers drawing on the wall with jumbo Crayola crayons when she was about 4 years old. The vision in her head was clear, but the result turned out to be just a jumble of crayon marks...definitely not a happy moment for her parents. She says, "I guess that’s the difference between being an artist and doing art: one you are, one you have to learn." She credits her Italian grandmother with teaching her to sew, crochet, embroider, and create and give her skills that blessed her as a future artist.
In addition to her art and creations, Jeanie publishes an e-zine, Bohemian Soul, a fusion of art and healing for people and their pets. You can sign up to receive it right in your own inbox on the Planet Calamari site. Darn Good Yarn's own Nicole Snow was the featured interview in the last issue! Jeanie is also working on a book that started as a children's book and has transformed into a book of illustrations and affirmations to heal the child with in all of us.
Jeanie's inspiration comes from a myriad of places. It comes in happy moments when she is dancing in the kitchen, playing the banjo, or watching a fun movie. It can come in the shower or while eating Mexican food. She lives close to Washington, D.C. and it comes through her visits to the Smithsonian Art Museum, the United States Botanical Gardens, and the National Museum of the American Indian. It also comes through the nature preserve that is close to her home where she takes a walk with her husband every Sunday. She loves strolling among the trees and flowers, seeing stunning blue heron, hawks, geese, dragonflies, and an occasional deer.
On those walks, when she sees a stick or branch, Jeanie's mind races trying to think of what it could be. If her brain comes up with an image, she picks it up and takes it home to work with it. Usually the image and the finished product look nothing alike, but she finds that if she stays in the flow, she can make her muse happy. If her muse seems to have run off to Paris, she says her secret fall back method is to watch marathon Ugly Betty reruns. Jeanie says, "Herbubbly personality, colorful ill-matched clothing and caterpillar eyebrows sing to me, and some of my more whimsical pieces have been created thanks to her! I think of Betty Suarez as my substitute muse." Once she has a process going, she likes to experiment with different mediums: things like clay, paint, found objects, wire, and glass, anything that can be molded.
With those mediums, Jeanie creates number of amazing items including vibrant jewelry, whimsical mixed media art, and enchanting Nature Spirit Beings. Nature Spirit Beings are a special creation of Jeanie's. She says they are, "tiny shamans, medicine women, and mystical deities inspired by tree sprites, fairies, ancient Goddesses and fairytales." She has enjoyed making odd and delightful creatures, stuffed animals, and sculptures since childhood and when the National Museum of the American Indian had an exhibit last year, Much More than a Doll, she was amazed by the detail, color and symbolism. Around the same time, she experienced a health crisis that eventually required surgery and she made a Nature Spirit Being for herself as a way to deal with what was happening to her. Each doll has an intention. Her first doll was bravery and since then she has sewn a small note with a message or prayer inside, very similar to the Latin American Worry Doll. As she takes daily walks, she comes home with a pile of sticks and is always for searching for items to upcycle for her creations. She is currently working on creating online classes, videos, and live workshops that will teach others how to make Nature Spirit Beings and will include aspects of healing along with instructions on how to make the dolls.
Jeanie is in love with Darn Good Yarn's sari ribbon! She is worried that she may need a twelve-step program soon to deal with her addiction. She found Darn Good Yarn when looking for earthy alternatives for jewelry to hang her paper clay pendants. She had ordered some silk ribbon from a different source and was unhappy with the quality, so she went searching again and found Darn Good Yarn. When she called to inquire about DGY's silk ribbons and a real person answered the phone and guided her through our products, she was hooked! She also loves buying from Darn Good Yarn because of their dedication to Fair Trade. Her favorite product is the At the Bahamas Sari Silk Ribbon withits vibrant purple, magenta, and blue hues. She has been known to use sari silk ribbon for all sorts of things from wrapping packages, to crocheting scarves, to decorating a set of crutches and the big black boot that came along with it when she fractured her ankle.
And we can't forget to mention Jeanie's crocheting pup, Quan Yin Kali Wu. She's a rescue dog from the Tennessee floods in 2010. She also goes by just Wu or Quan Yin and Jeanie had this to say about the meaning of her name: "Quan Yin is best known as the Chinese Deity of Compassion. Wu is the last name of the martial arts teacher that informally adopted my husband into his family. And she picked up the middle name Kali, the Hindu Goddess of destruction, after she devoured (literally) an expensive Frida Kahlo book I had checked out from the library." Despite her appetite for books (she's destroyed others as well), she is just about the perfect dog and the Pawsitive Relations Director of Planet Calamari, as well as Four Paws Acupuncture, Jeanie's acupuncture veterinary clinic that she ran when she lived in Salem, MA. Jeanie no longer treats patients, but she write books and articles, and teach a distance learning class on holistic medicine to acupuncturists and
veterinarians. Oh, and we can forget to add that Jeanie's two black cats who would feel left out if we didn't mention them, Nubi Wan Kenobi and Luna Miso Poosie.
Thank you Jeanie for sharing your art and process with us! We are ecstatic to have you as part of the Darn Good Yarn family and can't wait to see what else you create.
Find Jeanie in all of these places:
- Nicole Snow