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I recently had the chance to catch up with Morgan “Mo” Mitchell, a talented artist and hat pin maker in the cannabis community whose pins are amusing pieces of cultural gold, and asked her a few questions about her current works and projects. — Amber Senter
LB: How long have you been an artist?
MM: I’ve been doodling and drawing forever and I’ve worked with clay since I was 15-16 but I only got into my art seriously within the last 3 years. I started doing little paintings and clay dragons and posting them for sale on Etsy and the rest is history.
LB: What inspired you to get into hat pin art?
MM: While putting my little paintings and clay figures on my site, I would often shop on there. I kept coming across hat pins. They were incredible artwork in a form that you could wear or collect. I loved the idea. I instantly had an idea for a pin — I thought would be ultra classic. I did a little research. Then on October 18, 2013 I went to my first Phish show in Hampton, VA. Pins and there were pins as far as the eye could see! That kind of solidified it for me. I decided to save up my money from my art sales to have my first pin made and by November I had enough.
LB: When did you get into hat pin art?
MM: Ordered my first pin in November 2013.
LB: What are some other mediums and art outlets you like to work with besides hat pins?
MM: I’ve been lucky enough to get to try a lot of new mediums lately. I enjoy painting and sculpting and lately I’ve been doing a lot with resin to create my own hand crafted pins and pieces. I would love to try something with glass one day. I really hope to find my way into working with porcelain as well. My great grandmother was an artist and she worked with porcelain mostly.
LB: Your artworks and paintings are awesome, how do you find inspiration?
MM: Oh my goodness, thank you so much! My kids are the number one inspiration for me. We do everything together. My little artists, they love to help with my work. I’m a real movie dork but watching a movie with my kids — my daughter experiences every human emotion within the opening five minutes of Up. Its incredible. Also, nature. I don’t necessarily paint a bird I see but the colors and the movements I see throughout the walk inspire me. The power of the river along a path I’m walking or the lights twinkling across the city, we have some very nice parks and trails here in VA. Music!! Music is a big inspiration for me. For instance, I do some concert paintings but it’s not so much about the concert as the people in the crowd that inspire me. The way the music moves them moves me. I’m a people watcher. Food. Oh man, does food inspire me, so I guess I’m inspired by the basics: love, music, food and cannabis.
LB: What was the first pin you acquired?
MM: The first pin I ever acquired was a little frog with a purple bow. I went to a catholic school when I was little, and we were allowed to wear flair on special days. My mom bought it in Hecht’s. But the first pin I bought after getting into pins was a phish mummy nono for their Atlantic City Halloween show in 2013.
LB: What was the first pin you had made?
MM: My Ballin jar. I love that pin. Soft enamel simple colors. It’s 1 inch double posted. 1/100 the pin that started it all.
LB: How is it being a woman in a male-dominated hobby circuit?
MM: I’d be lying if I said there’s no difference at all but there’s actually more here in VA. For the most part, everyone within the cannabis community has been very welcoming and friendly and beyond helpful. My hope is to get more women into the game. When I see guys joking about how their wife is gonna leave them over pinning, I always think, “Well did you get her something?” I want pinning to bring people together, not tear them apart.
LB: What is the cannabis scene like in VA?
MM: Don’t ask, don’t tell. No seriously, it’s not something people really talk about. Before I got into pinning and more into the cannabis community, I had no idea they had made these kinds of strides towards legalization. The advances they’ve made with cannabis for medicinal purposes in other states, people don’t talk about it. It’s sad that when talking to people that actually smoke cannabis here — even they think Virginia will be the last state, at least 5-10 years off. We have glass shops and whatnot but you have to call it a water pipe or get out. And you can’t mention cannabis or get out. Don’t get me wrong, everybody does it.