Arts Business Institute Artist Profile: Laura Burch

Arts Business Institute | Artist Profile: Laura Burch

June 3, 2016

Fiber artist Laura Burch presents her delightful portfolio. We spoke with her about building a business, and her advice for others.

 

Needle felted Louie and stick by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

ABI:  How did your move to Israel change your life and your art business?

LB:  Moving to Israel changed my life completely; I had to adapt to things like the metric system, using Celsius instead of Fahrenheit, using a different currency, a different language and make peace with living as a foreigner.

 

Rose hat by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

When we lived in Chicago we bought a lot of Disney costumes because the girls loved to play dress-up and wear pink, sparkly things and those types of beautiful, quality items didn’t exist in Israel. I started making the girls’ costumes as well as classic style dresses for birthday parties and special occasions.

 

Elf hat by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

Other parents noticed the costumes and beautiful clothes and asked me if I would make these things for them too; this is how my store, Burch and Daughterscame to be and my entrepreneurial life started. We created a magical store filled with handmade treasures for children. I also wrote two craft books (with patterns) showing how to make some of my most popular toys: Sew Magical for Baby and Sew Magical for Kids.

 

Needle felted Smiling Isaboo by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

ABI:  You have a new studio and a new direction. Tell us about that.

LB:  We bought and historically restored a home in Jaffa, Israel. The building is at least 150 years old, its architecture is Ottoman and it used to be a barn. I have my studio in our home, it has stone vaulted ceilings, stone walls and arches divide the large spaces and serve as the shape for the windows. I am in the process of “fixing” my studio; it is an overwhelmingly ancient looking space balanced out with very modern elements such as the cement floors, modern furniture and modern decorative pieces.

 

Needle felted Pig by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

As the girls have grown up my interests have changed; I still make some of the things I used to but now they are more geared for adults. I base my artwork on the dry-felting, textile technique of needle felting. I’d like for my work to make a difference; I’ve recently become somewhat of an animal rights advocate so I’d like to make a body of work to promote awareness about animal rights and I’d like to show it in galleries.

 

Needle felted pit bull and kitty by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

There are many needle felted dogs and animals on my studio shelves, I’ve been needle felting these miniature sculptures, selling them and taking custom orders on my Etsy and Artizan Made sites. I donate proceeds from specifically designated sales of the dogs to my favorite animal rescue organizations.

 

Needle felted "Pedro" by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

ABI:  Given your extensive background as an entrepreneur selling her art and other products, what advice would you have for new artists who want to follow their dreams?

LB:  When I was in university, business of art classes weren’t offered. I would highly recommend learning the ins and outs of business pertaining to art. I’ve found that Etsy has many helpful postings on all business related issues for artists. Business skills are not only knowing what to sell, how to sell, negotiation, how to price your work, where to find the best sources, how to deal with business loans, what the difference between a C corp or an LLC is.  It’s also knowing what your rights are as an artist and how to protect yourself.

 

Petey the Pitbull Circled Eye by fiber artist Laura Burch. See her artist profile at www.ArtsBusinessInstitute.org

 

Copyright your work, negotiate royalties and make contracts at the beginning of business ventures. Also layout your goals and course of action in writing. The more experiences you have, the smarter you’ll be (art contests, art shows, classes, seminars and lectures on your chosen subject, attending and/or participating in craft trade shows and jobs).

Learn everything you can about your chosen medium! Most importantly: participate in everything you can because you will become recognized and doors will open because “one thing leads to another!”

 

Needle Felted Winter Scene (using new felting techniques!)

For the holidays, I’ve designed a needle felted winter scene and several needle felted ornaments that utilize NEW FELTING TECHNIQUES!!! The first needle felted project is a winter scene…..

Needle Felting with Angelina fiber 

Winter scene using Angelina fiber
Winter scene using Angelina fiber

This beautiful winter scene of three pines trees and two snow covered deer use Angelina fiber in the creation of the needle felted trees.

angelina fiber
shredded green Angelina fiber

Angelina Fiber: This fiber comes in all different colors and can be blended with many types of textiles; when heated it bonds with the fibers creating a beautiful shiny, sparkly effect. You can find this Angelina fiber here or here. These shiny fibers are the perfect extra little something to make your felted creations festive!

Materials list: 25g. green wool, 4  felting needles, sponge (felting surface), .05 oz. green, .05 oz. white, heat bondable Angelina fiber, felting handle, 100g.  poly fiber-fill stuffing (pillow stuffing), thread, iron, glue, paint brush, white glitter.

bind tree shapes with thread e

1. With sewing thread, bind poly fiber-fill stuffing into a cone shape.

Approximate Poly fiber-fill/wool breakdown:
Large Tree: 45g of poly fiber-fill/ 9g green wool
Medium Tree: 30g of poly fiber-fill/7g green wool
Small Tree: 17g.of poly fiber-fill/5g green wool

base shape of trees e

2. Cone ready to felt with green wool.

felt base shape green e

3. Felted cone (tree). Needle felting is the art of sculpting raw wool with special needles. The needles mesh the wool fibers together, creating a firm and durable form. This craft is surprisingly simple and fun!

felt angelina fiber into trees e

4. Felt (poke continuously ) the wool covered cone with the Angelina fiber; it takes patience to felt the Angelina into the cone because it’s a little unruly.

felt white angelina fiber last e

5. Felt the white Angelina fiber (snow) on last.

iron the tree e

6. After the Angelina has been felted into the pine trees set your iron to the silk setting and use an ironing cloth while ironing the Angelina fibers. Iron for only a few seconds.

ironed tree e

7. Felted, ironed Angelina tree; the fiber changes color once it’s ironed. The finish is stiff and a little “crispy”.

Three needle felted pine trees with Angelina fiber.
Three needle felted pine trees with Angelina fiber.

Felt the trees in different shades of green for a more interesting look.

Snow covered deer
Snow covered deer

8. Paint a little glue onto the deer; sprinkle with white glitter.

Winter Scene banner e

Add white or silver glitter to a few deer, rabbits or other foresty friends to make the winter scene come alive 🙂 Put them on a silver platter and use them as a holiday center-piece.

Happy winter crafting!

Laura

Ryijy Textile Rugs-Vintage and Modern Styles

rag rugs
1m x 1m textile knotted rag rug by Laura Lee Burch

I made several hand knotted rugs and wall hangings about 9 years ago; they were useful but seemed to be more artful than utilitarian. In my sewing studio I had accumulated many fabric scraps, organized in bags by color.  When I looked at the pallet of colors and textured textiles they seemed like pots of color ready to be woven together to create something beautiful! I was never able to accurately calculate the number of hours it took me to make one  1m. x 1m carpet but I’d guesstimate around 20 hours to cut strips of fabric, knot them onto a plastic grid and trim the fabric.

blue rag rug
1m x 1m blue knotted textile rug by Laura Lee Burch
rag rug style wall hanging
38cm x 38cm knotted pink Heart Wall Hanging by Laura Lee Burch

Because of my earlier foray into textile carpets, the Ryijy (rough and shaggy pile) Rug Exhibit in Budapest last summer interested me. The early Ryijy carpets (as early as the 9th century) weave alternates a knotted pile with a tapestry weave; these carpets are the most famous Finnish textile. Ryijy carpets started as black, gray and white, later plant dyes were used to add color and it was only in modern invention of synthetic dyes that the carpet colors became brightly colored. Ryijys carpets were originally made for a brides trousseau, as coverlets, bedding, prayer carpets and pieces for special occasions that were later hung inside the house. As the carpet evolved it’s beauty and artistry brought it into the realm of home decor. The carpets are works of art, detailed, tactile and colorful!

Ryijy Rug Exhibit Budapest
Ryijy Rug Exhibit Budapest
Ryijy carpet
Early Ryijy carpet-geometric motif

Early Ryijy carpet

Early Ryijy carpet

Ryijy Rug-geometric
Ryijy Rug-geometric motif and muted colors

The folk art and Geometric patterned  themes of Ryijy carpets of the 1920’s and 30’s was changed by several innovative artists.  Eva Brummer was originally a painter, she made water color paintings as preliminary designs for her carpets, she chose the threads and closely monitored the carpet weaving by professional weavers. Ms. Brummer wanted to show feelings and sensitivity, she used soft forms and colors in her carpets. Long and rough piles helped to give the carpet surfaces softness. Her favorite subjects were hour glasses and crosses.  Another style changing artist was Uhra Simberg-Ehrstrom, in her artistic infancy her carpets evoked dreamlike feelings, later she wove large strips of rich color, she used many shades of a hue which made the weaving difficult. The artist Ritva Puotila also changed the look of Ryijy carpets by using new materials in her weaving such as paper string, silk and metal. Ms. Puotila often used Finnish folk designs as a motif but made them look very modern, she designed for the Finnrya company who used machines to weave Ryijy carpets. My favorite fact about the Ryijs carpets stated that the longest of the carpets were often hung on the wall, overlapped onto a sofa and continued onto the floor; an interesting look!

Ryijy Rug-black and white
Ryijy Rug-early style of black and white
Ryijy Rug-geometric and colorful
Ryijy Rug-geometric and colorful
Ryijy Rug-geometric and muted colors
Ryijy Rug-geometric and muted colors
Ryijy Rug-geometric and blue and grey
Ryijy Rug-geometric, hour glass motif
Ryijy Rug-geometric and green
Ryijy Rug-geometric and green
Ryijy Rug-geometric and red dot
Ryijy Rug-geometric and red dot
Ryijy Rug-geometric and purple
Ryijy Rug-geometric and purple
Ryijy rug-modern
Ryijy rug-modern colors
Ryijy Rug-geometric and patterned
Ryijy Rug-floral pattern
Ryijy Rug-long pile
Ryijy Rug-long pile and revolutionary materials
Long pile
Long pile and revolutionary materials
long pile
long pile

Summer, Vacation and Crafting

artistic life
Summertime beverages

It is once again summer, the girls are out of school and we’re getting ready to go to the United States for awhile. I never get excited about these trips until I’m actually there and I see my family and friends. There’s so much to do to prepare and in my mind, my work continues even if I’m not sitting here doing it. When I’m traveling, I’m always thinking about what great photos I can capture and how to use them and what cool things or people might inspire me and what’s new out there in the crafting and art world. I’m planning on packing some special crafting supplies I’ve collected and some felting supplies so I can work in my “down time”. Yeah, I know that vacation is supposed to be all about down time, but our trips to the United States seam anything but. We travel to several states to visit various family and friends and we seem to be constantly on the go-5 weeks of that is tiring. This year will be my 30th high school reunion in Indiana, so I’m especially looking forward to that.

laura lee burch
Summer flowers in bloom

It seems that eating is one of our main activities when we go home (which I hate) but Doron and I plan to eat every meal possible at a Mexican restaurant, and we plan on washing all that Mexican food down with salty Margaritas (Mexican food is one food that is sorely missing here in Israel and it’s my favorite!) We’ll be meeting my oldest and best friends in Michigan again this trip, we’ve rented a giant house that we’ll all stay in for a week and hang out on Lake Michigan. The big house is called the asylum because it used to be a mental institution many years ago; I believe we’ll get a few spooky adventures from this as all the kids (5 teenagers and 5 little kids) have watched way too many scary movies and they’re planning some sort of spook-fest!

crafting
So much to do in the summer

The last two years since I closed my store here (A.S.-after store) have been a time of finding my artistic self and deciding exactly what I want to do. Without the employees and the big space, I didn’t want to try to recreate what I made at the store by myself but I kept making toys (by needle felting) because I just never stopped doing this. My needle felting work keeps evolving, I developed more techniques and taught more classes and I continue to sell my toys and costume accessories on my Etsy site. I’ve also been planning some large, needle felted work and will I’m veering towards exhibiting my work and all that that entails.

crafting
Summer stroll

BUT, when I was in Rome a month ago, my crafting buddy Tiffany called me and suggested we start a new company. WHAM (I’m visualizing a cartoony, Roy Lichtenstein image here!)  Her idea was to start a subscription DIY craft kit company, based on our combined love of crafts, my designs and artistic skills and her business and marketing skills. Finally, the like minded partner that I always knew that I needed had come up with a GREAT idea. And so it began, phone calls and umpteen e-mails back and forth from New York to Tel Aviv and vice a versa. Ideas have been racing across the world and have been evolving and materializing on my computer screen. It’s pretty hard to believe what we’ve put together in the last month and I’m looking forward to the development in the upcoming months! You’ll still find needle felting based posts here on my Laura Lee Burch site, but you can see my craft inspired posts on the lullubee blog: here. The site will officially launch in the fall, so I’m very pleased to announce to you dear readers, my new site:

http://www.lullubee.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Lullubee

http://pinterest.com/lullubee/

crafting

lullubee is a crafting company, we sell monthly craft kit subscriptions, craft kits for adults and kids are always available for purchase. The kits come with great, easy to follow tutorials and links to video tutorials by Moi! We offer kits for birthday parties, patterns and tutorials in case you have your own materials and one of a kind artist pieces. What makes lullubee different from other craft sites is that you can choose your kits (no surprises) and we offer more than just assembly in a box. Our kits offer high quality and sometimes hard to find materials and you’ll never find a store bought pom-pom included in a kit box but you will find yarn and instructions for how to make your own big, fluffy pom-pom. We offer a diverse range of kits, from beautiful and elegant, beaded crowns for birthdays, bat mitzvahs, weddings and other special occasions to classic sock monkeys. So, Craft to it!

lullubee
Beaded crown on lullubee

 

Sock Monkey Kit on lullubee

I want to let you know about another beautiful and crafty site that I like: Silver White Winters by Caroline Froberg. I’ve been following her for awhile and especially like her “wooly” articles. I think our two environments are exact opposites because I’m in hot, sandy Israel and Caroline is in cold, snowy and friendly Denmark (the friendliest country I’ve EVER visited!) She’s having a give-away, a chance to win some crafting supplies, please take a look! http://silverwhitewinters.com/2012/06/16/competitiongive-away-20/

 

Painting with Wool

wool art
Needle felted yellow guy

My youngest daughter’s school, l’école Marc Chagall in Tel Aviv hosted an art fair and I was one of the guest artists to come in and teach several classes with the students. Parent and community artists came to the school to teach students their specialty medium;  sculpture, oil painting, life drawing, photography, the art of video, intro. to classic movies, sculpting with clay, collage, painting with wool, pastel drawing, oil pastel drawing, fruit and veggie scultpures and drawing with words and music were all taught.  All the student work was displayed at the end of the “studio period” in a wonderful art exhibit, hosted by the principal Phillipe Zarka.

painting with wool
Wool painting of a religious Jew

The students were not familiar with working with wool, needle felting or painting with wool, so they were introduced to a new art medium and had the opportunity to practice their English all at the same time! I had the students “paint with wool” because I thought this technique would be easier than 3-D needle felting more suitable for a larger age-range of students. Painting with wool involves a piece of flat wool as a canvas, a felting needle and colored, coarse wool, such as shetland or New Zealand fast felting batts. I ordered my materials from this website (where I found great wool, a large variety of needles and great prices: http://www.esse.co.il/en

painting with wool
Making a flat felted "wool canvas"

The first step to painting with wool was making wool canvases that the children would “paint” on. I laid out white, wool, tufts all in one direction, then a second layer on top of the first layer with the tufts of wool laid out in the opposite direction (laid out as you would in wet felting). I then needle felted the wool flat with a large handle with 10 needles. I turned the large wool canvas over and needle felted the other side, I did this several times. I applied a third layer of wool tufts and needle felted again. (You can also wet-felt a large wool canvas if you prefer) When the wool canvas was strong and “fabric-like”, I cut it into many squares for the children to “paint on”.

needle felting with kids
"Painting" on the wool canvas

Once the wool is cut into squares, it is ready for the children to apply colored pieces of wool, felted into the wool with a felting needle. I taught the older grades (4th, 5th and 6th grades) as I felt they could deal with the sharp needles the best. I explained how to handle the needles and how not to break them. In all 3 classes only 2 people stuck themselves with needles, one of which was a teacher and only 1 needle was broken out of 50 students! Everyone enjoyed this craft and I look forward to teaching more students and a larger variety of grades at next years art fair.

By the way, for you needle felters out there, this is a great activity to do with your own children with your wool scraps.

painting with wool
The children's artwork

 

children painting with wool
Painting with wool at Le Ecole Marc Chagall

Each child was supplied by a sponge (felting surface), a wool canvas, a felting needle and handfuls of many colors of wool. I showed the children how to outline with a strip of wool and I pointed out the graphic paintings compared to the watercolor looking paintings.

painting with wool
Emili's class paints with wool