Arts on the Square Spotlight: Meet Sara Mika of Mock Pie Studio

Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Artist Sara Mika from Bloomsburg transforms fabric, batting and thread into whimsical works of art. Her quirky sense of humor is apparent in all of her colorful quilted creations. Meet Sara Mika of Mock Pie Studio and check out some of the quilt designs she will be showing at Arts on the Square.

Tell us about your interesting name, Mock Pie Studio, and the story behind it.  
"Mock Pie" comes from an interpretation of the quilt as an artistic medium. I am comparing quilts to pie. Like pie, quilts are comprised of two outer layers filled with so many sweet possibilities. In reality they're only fabric, batting and thread, but I put all of my creative energy into them as well. My quilts are the "Mock Pie" in Mock Pie Studio! Love me. Love my pie.

How did you discover quilting and when did you realize it was your creative medium of choice?
An exhibit at Lycoming College, my alma mater, started the fascination when in 1999 our Snowden Gallery hosted "The Lucky Tomato Pincushion Project". Incredible works by such celebrated quilt artists as Jane Burch Cochran and Susan Shie were included in the exhibit. When I saw the work for the first time, my jaw dropped. Something just clicked for me. These artists were bringing principles and elements of design into the mix. Previously, I had only considered sewing and quilting to be the things grandmothers occupied their time with, although none of mine ever had. 

Were you always an artist?  What is your artistic background.
I've always been creative and studied art all through grade school.  When it came time to go to college, I couldn't think of anything else I'd be content studying, so I majored in art at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, and also received certification in art education for grades K-12. My grandfather, Armondo Dellasanta (now deceased), was a well-known artist in the city of Binghamton, where I grew up.  He and his work were an immense inspiration to me.  They still are.  I spent a lot of time around my grandparents when I was young, watching my grandfather work in a tiny basement studio.  I always wanted to do what he did.  When I decided art quilts were my avenue of choice, I don't think my grandfather understood it as an art form because he was extremely traditional.  Paintings on stretched canvas or prints of an etched plate were art.  Still, he never discouraged me from expressing myself in whatever medium I chose. 

Do you have a favorite creation or collection?
The vagina that touts "I make people" would have to be my favorite creation.  Just after my twins were born, nearly four years ago, I told my obstetrician, "I make such beautiful people."  He laughed, but I was already inspired to make this piece that is now my favorite and remains a hallmark for my quirky sense of humor.  Everyone who sees it in my booth (as a note card or a print...the original piece has sold!) either giggles or whispers.  I love it!

Tell us about your creative process.
I always begin with an idea, and then a sketch.  I transform the sketch to fabric, drawing very lightly with a pencil.  I free-motion stitch the design with needle and thread and then hand paint the image.  I bind my pieces by hand and typically mount them to painted canvas.

For me, art quilting has provided a vehicle for expressing my inner thoughts visually, yet still silently.  Much of it is small and therefore intricate. I find striving for perfection in technique much more attainable in a small format. Creating my work is a very time consuming process, but I adore the alone time. It gives my mind time to slow and time to process my thoughts. As my hands repetitively stitch, I work out my worries and find solace in peacefulness.

What are you planning to bring to Arts on the Square?
Among others, art quilts featuring six of the seven dwarves:  Sneezy, Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sleepy, and Bashful.  Doc has very recently found a new home!  I'll be bringing some hand embroidered mushrooms, pincushions that look like pie, and babushka ornaments of which I make a new design each year.   

Where do you primarily sell your work and you do many festivals and events?
My partner, Larry Ney II, and I had a studio in the Moose Exchange building in downtown Bloomsburg that was lost to fire this past January.  I had been selling some work directly from that space, but now, I sell most of my work through ArtspaceGallery in Bloomsburg, PA.  Since the fire, we've rebuilt a home studio and very recently opened it up to students and clients.  Now that I have a reestablished studio space, I hope to get more of my work back on Etsy.  The twins are still small and so I don't do many festivals, especially those that involve traveling.  I show in exhibits and events held by the Susquehanna River Arts group (through the Columbia Montour Visitors Bureau) and also the North Mountain Art League based in Bloomsburg.

Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?

I've had work published in "1,000 Trading Cards" written by Patricia Bolton, four issues of Quilting Arts Magazine, an issue of Quilting Arts Gifts Magazine, and Cloth, Paper, Scissors Studios Magazine.  I am working on writing and illustrating a children's book.

Follow Mock Pie Studio:
Location: Bloomsburg, PA

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