8 Jun 2008

Artisan of the Week, Lauren of LaBEANA

So Sunday dawns again and it's time to share with you another amazing artisan. Today we have the work of Lauren of LaBEANA on showcase. This interview shows you the journey Lauren has taken to get to the point, where she now makes and sells beautiful Jewellery and purse handles and embellishments. In addition to her own website Lauren also sells through an Esty shop. I strongly advise you to visit both and marvel at her gorgeous work.

1.Could you please introduce us to who you are and what you do?
I've been doing art of one form or another for over thirty five years....I started out doing graphic art and illustration (way back in the day before computers, when it was done by hand on a drawing board), then did faux finishes and painted trompe l'oeil furniture for years (burned out on that finally) and also tried many other mediums and techniques. I enjoyed all of them, and learned that each time I stepped out of the box, I gained skills that applied to other areas of my artistic life. So I finally stopped feeling bad about not sticking with one thing and perfecting it...

2.What led you to take up your craft?
Looking back through my stack of sketchbooks, I can trace my evolution to the point where I am today. The one thing I keep seeing is my recurring attempt to become a "painter" only.... to dedicate myself to "fine art" and become a "real artist"..... LOL.... sorry, I can laugh at this now, but during those soul tossed times at four am when you just know you could set the world on fire if only you could figure out what it was you wanted to say in art, it's very real... I even went back to art school five years ago to try to get myself some good mojo.... and discovered, after a mind expanding year at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, that although I loved painting... it just doesn't do it for me.
So I allowed things to settle, and soothed my angst by doing some pottery, playing with some polymer clay, and started dreaming about purses. I don't know why, but it became an obsession.... I filled sketchbooks with drawings, did intense research into purses of the past, and even collaborated with a pattern maker to do some prototypes. But it all came down to this.... I did not sew, or do leather, or knit or crochet. So now what?.... as I was designing purses on paper I remembered seeing some wonderful faux scrimshaw jewelry I had seen at wholesale shows I used to do with the trompe l'oeil furniture.... it looked just like real ivory but was a form of plastic called resin. I never forgot how that looked and now my mind started seeing it as purse handle forms.....
I learned how to make molds of my original designs(which are made with polymer clay) and pour resin, how to dye it and add metal powders....my focus tightened down to the point where the only important thing was doing the handles...I hated how most bag handles looked like they were just sort of thrown on as an afterthought....I wanted them to be the most important design element...and I eventually came up with enough to fill a website...

3.Which part of your work do you most enjoy?
I love the sketching stage... especially if I'm on a roll.... but I think the part where I unmold the original and pour the first resin and see what it really will look like is my favorite part.

4.Which part do you find hardest?
The hardest part is having to fill orders... although I love getting them, they are repetitive and can get mind numbing... which is when I stop and play with polymer clay then, to keep my creative mind entertained.

5.Where do you hope to be in 1 year’s time?
Now, after a year or so of selling them on my website and from my Etsy store, I realize that a lot of people love the handles, but just don't know what to do with them.... so I've begun another collaboration with a knitting designer and together we are designing custom purse patterns for knitters, and eventually other fiber people. It's very exciting. and maybe in a year, I'll be selling my kits in all the local yarn stores in the world!!!

6.What is the best advice you have ever been given?

7.Name other artisans sites/shops would you recommend are worth a visit?
I don't let a day go by without checking out these links
Polymer Clay Daily
Polymer Clay Notes
Kathleen Dustin

8.What is your favourite sandwich filling?
Tuna on wheat with tomato and American cheese.....mmmmmmm

Thank you Lauren for sharing with us your fabulous work and for giving us a small insight into what lead you on the path you have taken with your artistic talents. As an avid knitter/ crocheter I look forward to seeing your future collaborations and the patterns that arise from those. I'm not a big pattern user but I'm loving your purse handles so much I could have a go, or maybe I'll just free form a purse to match some of your wonderful handles and combine them.


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