Amy Handy

Amy is a former PYOP Studio owner who loves to create using Magic Metallics. Her resume and love for experimentation has helped shape her style of work today.

Interview with Amy Handy

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My first career was in costume design in New York City, working as a production manager for a big costume company on projects that included Broadway, The Ringling Bros. Circus, and Las Vegas shows. It was exciting but also very stressful, and I decided I wanted something more intellectual. So, I became a book editor, working on a variety of subjects and hoping to use my degree in British Studies and my interest in the intersection of history, literature, and art history. I decided to go freelance so I could have the flexibility to raise a family while working from home full time. We moved from NYC to the Portland, Maine, area to raise our two daughters.

After these two careers I hit a midlife crisis and decided it was time for another change. At a networking event, I overheard the owner of a PYOP studio say that her studio was for sale, and owning a studio became my next career for about 12 years. I enjoyed being able to share the art-making process with the community.

Once our daughters were done with high school, it felt like time for another change, so I closed my studio, moved back to NYC, and resumed my book editing career. Working freelance is well suited to my lifestyle: I can make my own schedule and try to leave time for art and for travel. My husband is a flight attendant, so I get to travel a lot, especially to visit our daughter and son-in-law and their new baby in London.


What drew you towards working with ceramics and acrylics?

As is probably evident from my different careers and moves, I get bored easily and love to try new things. When I had my PYOP studio, I really enjoyed doing custom work on ceramic platters such as house portraits and pet portraits, but once I no longer had a kiln I looked for other mediums.

I’ve always loved creating and was constantly experimenting (painting, mosaics, sewing, jewelry making, among others), which meant I was surrounded by a lot of unfinished projects! Then I discovered mixed media assemblage, which lets me combine several things I love: collage, found objects, interesting papers, old photographs, and painting, either on canvas or ceramic. I generally finish the piece with a coat of resin to secure the objects and to suggest the idea of being caught in time, kind of like fossils in amber.


How do Mayco glazes and products fit into your work?

When I had my studio I loved working with Mayco products and was sorry to stop using them when the studio closed, so I was thrilled to discover the Magic Metallics to keep working with Mayco. Magic Metallics are a wonderful complement to my mixed media work. They make great backgrounds for collage, and for accents and highlights on found objects, especially to make plastic items look like aged metal. Also, I’m fascinated with the elements of the periodic table and the proto-scientific idea of alchemy—transforming base metals into gold—so using Magic Metallics lets me play around with this idea symbolically.


How do you come up with your design ideas?

I go to museums whenever I can. I also take lots of snapshots when I’m out and about in the hopes that looking through them will spark some ideas. And back when online shopping was brand new, I was one of Amazon’s professional book reviewers in the crafts category—writing about other people’s creative efforts and wanting to do my own—so I’ve got a great collection of books for visual inspiration.


We noticed you like to incorporate a vintage/steampunk look into your designs. What draws you toward that style?

Victorian art and fashion have always been my favorite, so the alternative 19th-century vision of steampunk is a natural fit. I also love the strange and eerie, so the macabre overtones of steampunk really appeal to me. And of course it fits in with my fascination with alchemy, which is also reflected in what I’ve named my art business and Etsy shop: The Alchemist’s Lair.