Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky is an award-winning artist whose work includes murals, drawing, illustrations, sculpture, and photography. For nearly four decades she has carved out a reputation as a master of the scrimshaw, earning a place in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts 19 times.
Ochonicky graduated with a degree in art, with an emphasis on sculpture, from Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri. She finds scrimshaw to be the perfect medium to combine her love of art and history. Additional graduate studies in a variety of media, and even horticulture, enrich to her work, giving it a distinct, precise style.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, sailors etched intricate pictures in ivory as a way to pass time on long whaling voyages. Today, animal protection laws ban the importation of ivory, so Ochonicky uses recycled antique ivory piano keys, cow bone, deer antlers, fossilized mastodon ivory, and manmade polymers with the look and feel of ivory. She has earned recognition as an environmentally conscious artist.
Like the sailors, she uses no patterns, stencils, transfers, or power tools. Each piece is truly hand-done and original. Working from her tiny Stone Hollow Studio deep in the woods near Eureka, Missouri, Ochonicky’s subjects include the traditional nautical themes along with the wildlife and botanicals she loves. Her sculpture-based skills infuse her scrimshaw with a three-dimensional quality, making the images appear alive.
Ochonicky has been invited four times by the National Parks Foundation and the Missouri Governor’s office to design works for the National Christmas Tree ceremony in Washington, D. C., most recently in 2014. Her original art has been commissioned by collectors worldwide and displayed in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the White House Visitor Center, the Missouri State Capitol, and the Missouri Governor’s Mansion.
As arts editor for a St. Louis area magazine, Ochonicky writes a monthly column in which she continually promotes the arts. She works as the executive director of Missouri Citizens for the Arts, the statewide arts advocacy agency. Believing that traditional art should be shared with future generations, she encourages young artists through her active participation in the Partners in Education program.
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Colonial Pennsylvania meets 21st Century design in this historic property formerly deeded to Letitia Penn, daughter of William Penn. This 26-acre estate features an inviting farmhouse, in-ground pool, outbuilding used as a country goods store, a tenant house, and barn.. $1,375,000.