Friday, March 11, 2011

Sponsor Interview: Marsha Neal

Marsha Neal Studio, LLC is the name of my company (Marsha Neal technically does not exist anymore - she got married...). I have been working with clay since 1997 when I took an elective ceramics class while going for my undergraduate degree in Entomology (bugs). I loved working with clay so much that I went on to receive my MA in ceramics in 2001.

I started concentrating on making porcelain pendants & beads around 2002 and quit my job in 2004 to pursue making beads and traveling around the country to sell them. By 2006 I was really feeling burnt out from traveling and making beads, and my husband Dave and I were at a point of wanting to try to start a family. So I gave up traveling. It was a good decision too because in January of 2007 my mom was diagnosed with a very rare form of Leukemia, which she fought as long as she could, but passed away in September 2007. I had my daughter Chloe in December 2007 and my son Riley in December 2009.

Right now my life is undergoing a major restructuring physically and mentally. Things are not the same as they were when I left them 4-5 years ago. Outside of family responsibilities (I love being a mom), Etsy and Blogging have become a huge focus in my life. Marsha Neal Studio, LLC is involved in a number of ongoing copyright infringement lawsuits with my porcelain pendants (copies are being made in China and distributed through online websites as well as brick and mortar establishments - ugh!).

How do drawing and gardening work their way into your designs?

I applied and was accepted to the 2011 Master Gardener program here in New Castle Co. Delaware where I hope to be able to enhance my foundation in gardening and nature & wildlife conservation. I cannot take myself away from the concept of Ecological Gardening & all that it encompasses - and spreading the word about it in ways that people can apply simple things to everyday life to make things a tad better for the environment immediately around them. I have a feeling a lot of this will be coming out in my blog over this next growing season.

This year I am also taking an online drawing lab course to learn some basics of drawing (another thing I wanted to do, but never had the chance formally). So with this drawing and gardening, I hope to see a lot of new imagery appearing in my clay work. Maybe in the form of new textures, maybe just new designs that I can use with my line of decal drawings.

How do you balance production work, creative time and being a mom?

My kids go to school (preschool) full time and they thrive there. They are both very socially friendly kids & have lots of friends & great teachers. When they are at home with us, we spend as much time as possible with them doing stuff that helps them grow as kind, caring, fun individuals. We laugh a lot! And I am not afraid to let them know when I make a mistake or when I need a time out. We take time to learn from mistakes, accidents, to think how our actions make other people feel and to make better decisions. Everything is a learning experience at this age (1 and 3 years old). I found that I function better as a person when I have time to get things done for myself - which is mainly for "Marsha Neal Studio". Being an artist means that I live my life with my art in mind constantly. I get very cranky and irritable if I don't have my "alone" time in the studio. So the kids going to school allows me to focus on me. I love being a mom - but without school - I would be completely miserable and I think it would show through them.

What is the best mistake you've ever made?

I think that it is important as a bead maker to understand how the pieces you are going to make are going to be used. Even if my attempts at jewelry making are feeble and really bad sometimes, I continue on. I love sitting to make jewelry with a bunch of inexpensive wire so I can try out designs and then cut them apart if I feel it is a failure. Sometimes I keep the failures as a reminder of a turning point. I embrace mistakes and look for "cool" things to happen as I am experimenting. I laugh a lot at some things I've tried and imagine someone wearing. Oh, and I realize too - I need a mirror in the area I am creating jewelry. Nothing like having to constantly run up & down the basement steps to see how something is looking (or attempt to take a picture with the phone camera and actually see what the piece looks like).

If you were stranded on a tropical island and could create all day, what would you spend that time making?

With all the flurry of constant activity, if I actually had a moment to myself to sit on a tropical beach and take along a beading project - it would have to be some sort of bead and macramé project. All of the beads would have to be pre-strung on the string, inside a baggie so I could pick it up or put it down whenever I wanted. Something very hands on without a lot of excess supplies to get sand in. My sketch book with black ink gel pen & iPhone would also be in my beach bag, easily accessible so I could absorb all the warmth that a new environment would offer and sketch out ideas and take photos of cool textures and color inspirations (as well as photos of memories of hanging out with a bunch of other beady friends... I love my beady friends!). Maybe Chloe and I will get to go on a bead cruise in a few years when she is a little older...
Find Marsha online:

Photos by Marsha Neal Minutella


  1. Great interview with Marsha. Thank you for being a bead cruise sponsor!

  2. I enjoyed learning a little bit more about Marsha. Great interview. Thanks.

  3. I've met you once at the B and B, it must have been the last year you were there! Always loved your work. I am a big fan of your. Thanks for being a Cruise sponsor, its a good thing. Enjoy your family as much as possible, a good life will follow.