Michelle "mike" Ochonicky

Even as a child, I wanted to be an artist. In college, classical training in sculpture along with studies of ancient art history gave me a taste for precision and gave a three-dimensional approach to my work. In 1979, with my husband’s loving support, my dream of a career in art became reality in the stone basement of our old house in St. Louis. Stone Hollow Studio was launched, a name which definitely had a more artistic ring to it than Stone Basement.

My art has taken me all over the world, I was invited by the Missouri Governor’s office and the National Parks Foundation to design and create the ornaments for the National Christmas Tree display in Washington, D.C. in 2010- 2011, and 2013-2016. I was honored to be an invited guest when the President of the United States lit the National Tree. My work has been displayed in the White House Visitor Center, the Missouri Capitol Rotunda, the Missouri Governor’s Mansion, St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, a 5-city touring exhibition in Germany, and remains in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institute and the Dedalo Museum of Contemporary Art in Italy.

I love both history and art. Scrimshaw provides a prime link, finding its origins with 18th-19th century American sailors. I use environmentally-friendly materials: primarily recycled ivory piano keys and cow bone—materials that might otherwise go to waste. Yet my work is done the old way: I draw each piece by freehand, painstakingly etch each line, adding ink when finished. I strive for a purity of line, making each line important to the whole.

Perhaps more than other mediums, scrimshaw summons—demands!—close study. In a world so bombarded by supersizing, by big, loud “stuff,” it is calming to concentrate on what is small, what is so often overlooked. It requires a sensitivity. After all, art comes from the hand and the heart.

The simplicity of this traditional artform appeals to me: there is no color to distract from the actual work. The viewer sees only the lines. It’s clean and straightforward…..and I like that. No room for indecision; once a line is cut, it is permanent. I find inspiration in the details of nature.

I enjoy the challenge of presenting a three-dimensional illusion on a two-dimensional surface. I study how light falls upon a subject and use that illumination to attract the eye, asking the viewer to enter the work and “travel” around the subject. Curves and angles assist that journey.

In my photography, I try to capture a sense of place. I invite the viewer to feel as I felt when I stood in that location. I believe that sepia tones best present an air of timelessness, and convey the very essence of a place. Again, there is no distraction by color, only the quintessence of that moment.

Pen and ink drawings are my roots. I love exploring the details, paying attention to the light in a place. My drawings are usually done on-site, even though I often spend hours on a single work. It is sometimes only sunset that ends my drawing session.

I strive for my oil paintings to present a sense of place, pulling the viewer into the work itself.

Please visit www.StoneHollowStudio.com to learn more about my work.



The pieces shown here represent some of my scrimshaw work. I etch every line by hand (no power tools or patterns!) and fill the line with permanent ink. I etch into natural materials, such as the cowbone pieces covering these spheres. Working on a sphere takes incredible patience since the surface allows for only very tiny lines. I love the detailed work!


I prefer to use sepia tones in my photography to evoke a sense of place, offering the feeling of timelessness. There is no color to distract. Only the essence of the place remains.


Pen and ink allow me to explore details, to pay attention to light. I work on-site, spending hours to discover every detail of a place, stopping only when the sun sets.