Michael Johansson

Green Piece, 2009 (installation view)
Green garden equipment.
Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.6 x 0,6 m.

Artist's website


upcoming shows

SAT 12.05.09
Holiday Art Market
Deland Community Center
901 Broughton Dr, Sheboygan, WI
{hardware jewelry}

View Larger Map

FRI 12.11.09

Holiday Open House
Sweatshop Dance Studios
1229 N. Water St, Sheboygan, WI
{hardware jewelry}

SUN 12.20.09
Local Yokel Yuletide Craft Swap
Paradigm Coffee & Music
1202 N. 8th St, Sheboygan, WI
{hardware jewelry}

SUN 01.24.10
Eight Counties Opening
John Michael Kohler Arts Center
608 New York Ave, Sheboygan, WI
{Battery Cloud installation}


plastic snowflakes

Clever little snowflake made from six-pack rings. This project inspired me to create a new label, "Why didn't I think of that??" Full instructions are here.


Esme Kenney Memorial Sculpture Project

{drawing by Jessie Henson}
A project that is near and dear to my heart. Read more about the project in today's article in the Cincinnati Enquirer and be sure to check out the project blog.


vuja de

"Vuja De" is the inverse of "deja vu;" it's looking around at very familiar territory with new eyes; "like a traveler." Inspiring lecture about how to pay closer attention and observe details that are easily overlooked.


double fortune

I got a fortune cookie the other day with 2 fortunes!

"Appreciate the caring people who surround you."


"Don't give up. Your problem gets better next month."



These past few weeks have felt like a rollercoaster, extreme highs and lows. I experienced moments of intense panic and fear that I haven't felt in a long time. For some reason, I let myself go there.

I'm happy to report that it's October 29 and I have enough money to pay my rent, 3 days before it's due. And the money came through from my art sales. Wow. I am humbled, grateful, giddy, and exhausted. Panic and despair waste a lot of energy.

Once again, I got myself into a situation that seemed hopeless. And once again, a solution appeared. How many times must I fall into the safety net before I let myself trust?

I've said and typed the words 'thank you' so many times this past week that they don't feel adequate to express the gratitude I feel. But it's all the English language has to offer. Thank you to everyone that purchased my work.

Thank you.



My friend Timon Tupper brought me his damaged jacket (pictured above) and proposed that I patch it for an art trade. The wedding of my friends, Brit and Paul, was fast approaching, so I asked him to do a painting that I could give as a wedding gift. Here are the results. (P&B were thrilled!)



Name your own price for a pair of handmade hardware earrings, made by me with love and gratitude ($10 suggested donation). The Name-Your-Price-And-Pay-My-Rent sale is grab-bag style so if the pair you receive isn't quite your style, they make great gifts. The cotter pin earrings pictured are just one of many styles up for grabs. (Also, a few necklaces are available to those without pierced ears. Please specify.)

Payments are through PayPal and can be made using the Donate button at the bottom of this post. Be sure to include your current address so I know where to send your earrings!

Thank you for your support.


As promised, photos from the THIS IS ONLY A TEST opening, courtesy of Paul Andrews.



So when I'm feeling up to it, I will have an abundance of posts about my adventures this past month. I went to Boulder, CO for the Big Feed, went to Ohio for a wedding, visited a couple MFA programs, had an art show, and helped move a whole coffee shop with muscles not motors. With no coffee shop this month while the new one is being built out, my internet access has been scarce and hence a lack of posts.

I'm sitting in EBCO right now reflecting on the amazing month I've had and the subsequent lack of funds in my bank account. I've been out of a job as the coffee shop moves from one location to another. The job was yanked out from under my feet after my travelling plans and art show plans were already set in motion. Pushing fear out of my view, I went forward with these plans and continued to dare to trust that ends would meet at the end of the month. I even thought I would sell some art. I am now 10 days away from my rent being due with no idea how that will happen.

The month has been full of so many blessings; I've been able to catch up with so many old friends, make some new ones, and I was able to display my work in a well-received show. Yet today, it feels like I made a series of mistakes. Instead of travelling, making, and LIVING, I should have been working. I should have applied at the temp agency weeks ago, and foregone my visits and art. This is the message I'm receiving and I'm so confused. Why am I wired to do work that doesn't pay the bills, that doesn't allow me to support myself? Why must I choose between feeling alive and making a living? How come my gifts continue to feel like burdens?

Where do I go from here?



painting, sculpture, and installation by
Gregory Brulla, Erica Jane Huntzinger, and Michelle Ann Miller
Opening Reception
Saturday, October 17
EBCO Artworks
1201 Erie Ave, Sheboygan, WI



2006 Winner Stuart Hyatt

2007 Winner Adam Krandle

2008 Winner Kris Rusch

It's that time of year again, the time when we gather together at a bowling alley and compete for a handmade trophy in a tournament known as "Michelle Miller Week." This year's event will take place Monday, September 14 at Pine Grove Lanes in Howards Grove.

The first "Michelle Miller Week" took place at the end of my JMKAC/municipalWORKSHOP internship in Sheboygan, August 2006 and was loosely modelled after LebowskiFest. In August 2007 the tradition was kept alive to celebrate my move from Sheboygan to NYC. That year the name changed to "Elle Miller Week." In August 2008 I was in Delaware with the munici crew and another "Elle Miller Week" was observed. This year I'm not in transit (a highly unusual phenomenon) and so we will bowl.

(Oh yeah, just to make things more confusing, it's called "Michelle Miller Week" again.)



painting, sculpture, and installation by
Gregory Brulla, Erica Jane Huntzinger, and Michelle Ann Miller
Opening Reception
Friday, October 16
EBCO Artworks
1201 Erie Ave, Sheboygan, WI



Kate and I paced it out. We need 96 people to really make this work. And it will...



The transformation
of mundane materials
into works of art.



“Go on, go on, and scream and cry,
you’re miles from where anyone will find you.
This is nothing new,
no television crew,
they don’t even put on the sirens.”

from Star Witness by Neko Case



receipts//plastic bags//stained clothes



Amy spotted him in her yard and snapped a photo while we were on the phone. Just another example of my recent animal magnetism.



Recalling the snake I saw shed it’s skin, I’ve had to shed some skin myself recently. By skin, I mean half my wardrobe. I left a tube of tinted lip balm in my pocket when I did my laundry, and now a load of my clothes have pink stains all over them. The amazing part is that most of the clothes that were ruined were from my Brooklyn era and I didn’t even like them much anymore. The favorite items that I wear regularly (like my white cardigan) are completely clean.

Typically I sell or donate my old clothes, but I can’t pass on clothing with stains. So I’ve been shredding the stained garments, breaking them down as much as I can with my hands (and some blades). I’m not sure what I’ll do with the shredded material exactly, that’s still TBD. However, I did offer up one shredded garment for the birds to use for nesting material. On my way back from the beach, the day I spotted the garter snake, I hit a bird with my truck. I turned back around to see if it was OK and unfortunately, it didn’t survive the collision. I made the nesting offering in the spot where I laid it’s little body to rest.



Spend one year working fashion retail in NYC. You’ll never want to spend any time in a store ever again. Seriously.



I've been bombarded with animal imagery lately, specifically snakes. When I house-sat for Kathy and Craig last month, I had to look after Sequoia's corn snake. I actually walked into the room as it was shedding it's skin. As much as snakes creep me out, it was a cool thing to witness.

Then a couple weeks later, while gathering stones along Lake Michigan, a garter snake slithered out of the brush, we acknowledged each other, and then it disappeared.

As I was thinking about these snakes, it occurred to me that my latest knitting project, a scarf out the book Twinkle's Town and Country Knits, is called, "The Serpentine Scarf."

So I've been busy gathering as much info on animal symbolism as I can. In general, snakes symbolize entering a new phase in life, "shedding one's old skin." Garter snakes in particular encourage us to give birth to lots of new ideas and to see them through, as garter snakes give live birth to lots of little baby snakes. And the corn snake, a climbing snake, urges us to reach to the top of our potential, to set our sights a little higher.


The bicycle-powered blender was a big hit at Sheboygan's EARTHFEST this past weekend. (I got to peddle a couple slushies myself. Much harder than it looks).



I’ve been at a loss for posts recently. Instead of feeling guilty about it or forcing anything that doesn’t feel authentic, I’ve been rethinking the concept of this blog, redefining what it’s truly about. {almost} nothing new is no longer about devising cute and clever creative reuse techniques. That focus is too narrow, (although the documentation of the things I make will certainly continue to be an important component). I’ve had too many enchanting encounters these past couple weeks with no outlet to ruminate on them. It’s time to loosen the belt on “nothing new” and dwell on the spiritual side of things a bit.

I guess I haven’t posted in a while because it has felt so silly to document external things when so much has been going on internally. My blogging has always been about things/objects/matter/stuff and since the internal defines the external, it seems necessary to include the internal workings.

I’ve been thinking about “nothing new” in regards to my spiritual journey. Ideas that I have heard over and over again are finally sinking in. I used to think I needed this thing or that to make me happy, I used to think I NEEDED some THING outside myself. I’ve been moving from place to place, changing my address, my job, my love interests, even my NAME, all in hopes of finding the right combination of external circumstances that could finally make me happy. And although I had heard the truth over and over again, that "happiness begins within," I didn’t truly understand it until just recently. Everything I needed was there all along. The fact that I need nothing new to be happy is not a new concept.

So everything that I've been learning recently is nothing new. Anything I have to say/see/do has already been said/seen/done. So, if there is "nothing new under the sun," why bother doing anything at all? Why speak words that have already been spoken? Why make work that has already been made?

Because no one has said it exactly like me. Or you. Or you or you or you. We each have our own perspective to share, our own "remix" to produce. Although the content of this blog is nothing new, the specific combination and arrangement of content that I create is unique. It's {almost} nothing new.

Oh, and happy birthday Amy. Thanks for everything.



A couple recent news stories from NPR featuring my favorite medium-the plastic bag.

Seattle's Plastic Bag Debate
How Green Are Reusable Bags?

It may seem odd that as a collector and crocheter of plastic bags, I am totally 110% in favor of a fee that would help motivate buyers to bring their own bags. My relationship to plastic bags is one of divine dichotomy; I am drawn to them, inspired to experiment and play, while simultaneously I curse their existence. The Seattle article mentions the 'Great Garbage Patch' of plastic circulating in the Pacific Ocean. I first learned of the GGP from the book The World Without Us, and the idea of an island of plastic in the ocean is what keeps me coming back to the plastic bag as a medium. This stuff isn't going anywhere! We've got to figure out something to do with the bags (and other discarded plastics as well). And so I crochet...



It just occurred to me that the initials for this project, ANN, spell out my middle name. 'Almost Nothing New' is literally my middle name.

On a side note, I'm transitioning away from Elle and back to Michelle. Elle had a good run, but after 3 years of frequent use, I still feel like deep down I'm a Michelle. Sorry for all of you that knew me originally as Michelle and finally got used to calling me Elle. I change my mind a lot.



I'm getting SO CLOSE to a great bag design. These are good, but each time I finish one, I start a new one because I know how I can make it better. Off to the studio...



My apologies for the inconsistency in posts, but my fingers have been busy knitting. Every chance I get, I seem to have a pair of needles in my hands. I've been exceptionally broke lately, so I'm using up my yarn reserves on a variety of small projects. It's extremely satisfying to finish a project AND clear out some of the mess in my yarn basket.

The meditative mindset that knitting puts me in has also been the ideal place to mentally prepare for my upcoming show at EBCO Artworks (more details on that later). With my sketchbook open beside me, I find that working leads my brain to ideas which leads to more ideas which leads to more ideas. It's an exciting time.

So with approximately 5 projects in process, look for pictures of finished products coming soon...

...In the meantime, you should check out brooklyn tweed.



I'd like to take this post to pay tribute to Jennifer Beals, the Flashdance star who inspired the off-the-shoulder t-shirt alteration, henceforth making t-shirts and sweatshirts just a little sexier. My closet is still full of JB tees and I'd just like to say thanks. I would not be able to successfully sport so many second-hand tees without your contribution to fashion.



Work space made from hollow-core doors, salvaged cabinet, second-hand shelf, and two new bricks. (I scored the chair from the EBCO Rummage Sale).



My interior decorating strategy as of late has been to display the feathers, rocks, shells, sticks and so forth that I compulsively collect. As an artist, I just have to accept that nature is always going to have one up on me; it's the older sibling that will always be just a little bit better. So I keep it's remnants around me to inspire my own acts of creation.



I haven't knit in a few months and then all of a sudden, in 90 degree heat, I cranked out this hat in 3 days. The last time I attempted a hat I was following a pattern, it took several months, and the end result didn't even fit right so I ended up ripping it out and reusing the yarn. This one fits perfectly! No pattern, just divine inspiration I guess.



I can make it one more day without buying new underwear if I wear my bathing suit bottoms...



These glasses belonged to my grandma and I'm deciding whether or not to get lenses put in them. They even have her initials, which are my initials (M. Miller). Opinions?




This little box is going to save me a lot of money. Have you priced basil lately? It seems so silly to buy it when it's so easy to grow. Now accepting basil recipes...



Monday was the first official day in the garden (the day spent measuring and gridding was only a warm-up). Growing my own food has been an important part of the (almost) nothing new lifestyle and since Wisconsin only offers a brief window of opportunity, I revel in this time of year. This year I'm working in Paradigm's garden, which will supply local organic produce to the cafe all summer long. In exchange, I get a ton of produce for my own pantry. The seeds are in the ground...now we add water and wait.



"Too many people spend money they haven't earned, to buy things they don't want, to impress people they don't like" -Will Rogers

"People wish to be settled. Only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them." -Emerson

"It is preoccupation with possessions, more than anything else, that prevents us from living freely and nobly." -Bertrand Russell

"Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life." -Herbert Otto

"The truth of Zen, just a little bit of it, is what turns one's hum drum life, a life of monotonous, uninspiring commonplaceness, into one of art, full of genuine inner creativity." -D.T. Suzuki

{Gathered from Zen and the Art of Making a Living, Laurence G. Boldt}



When I found the parts to an old brass bed at the thrift store for $12 I couldn't resist, even though they were missing the connector pieces. So I designed a way to connect an exposed box spring to the pieces using nuts and bolts. After an evening of struggling to make that work, a cinder block and zip tie solution finally did the trick.



For their Monday EP, Brianna Lane and Cahalen David Morrison (together, Harbor Collective) deconstructed an old atlas to create unique, handmade CD sleeves. A customized name stamp adds the finishing touch. Get your own at CD Baby.



I'm using old suitcases as storage containers. They look better than those big, plastic totes you see at box stores and when I'm ready to move (which seems to happen pretty frequently), I can just grab the handle and go.



Stopped by the library this afternoon to pick up a couple books on tape and some fresh music for my weekend road trip to West Virginia. Amy introduced me to the magnificence of driving to books on tape when she rescued me from New York.



I recently picked up this vintage Wisconsin sweatshirt, as well as the clothing stand which I'll be utilizing for upcoming clothing alteration projects.


Local Exchange Trading Systems. Most of my graphic design services are offered on a bartering basis, so I'm very interested in LETS. Anyone have any additional info?



It's finally warming up here in Wisconsin and there's nothing like emerging from a long winter to make you appreciate the great outdoors. If I ever find myself feeling anxious, worrisome, etc, my coping mechanism is to simply spend some time outside. Photo taken atop Parnell Tower in Kettle Moraine.