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!”

 

Roman Holiday

for inspiration
Roman Inspiration-at Dusk

Many of my friends have told me that I am very disciplined as far as work is concerned and I tend to agree, but it’s not easy. Everyday I get up, get the girls off to school, clean up, do the dishes, start a load of laundry, clean the cat box and do other sundry jobs like perhaps going to the post office to send out Etsy purchases or pick craft supplies that I’ve ordered from abroad. After the little daily jobs are finished, it’s down to work for me creating art. My husband teases me as he leaves for work in the morning “I wished I could stay home everyday, don’t eat too many bon-bons!” and I ignore him and try to put myself in creative mode.

inspiration
Inspiration to create

Being serious about creating for a living means not going out for coffee with friends a lot during the day, not watching t.v. (not a problem for me) not being distracted by housework, phone calls, taking Hebrew or French lessons (which I should be doing) or other odd jobs that need being done around the house and the list goes on. Keep your eye on the ball and your nose to the grind stone as they say. I need to keep my concentration, to be in a good mood and most of all I need long periods of time and Inspiration to make art. I’ve written about this before, but it’s an on-going search. My long term goals have  a lot to do with the energy that I need to plow through the daily distractions and continue to make art for a living. It can get fairly depressing and start to feel like I’m running around in circles and what’s the point if I create things all day and no one notices or buys them. I need to feel that I’ve accomplished a task to feel good and not like I’m “staying home from school and playing” My goals and accomplishments keep me going: Etsy and local store sales, book deals, teaching jobs, my handsome website and plans for future needle felting exhibitions give me strength.

artistic inspiration
Vatican statues

Recently, I took my youngest daughter Emili on a mother-daughter trip, we went to Rome, Italy for a week! I’ve made it a tradition to take my girls on mother-daughter trips, the one on one time with my girls is priceless, the adventure is forever memorable and the photos and inspiration that I get from it is good for my soul. Emili chose to go to Rome, I think because she has been studying Rome in school and maybe because spaghetti, pizza and ice cream are three of her favorite foods! She has several Italian friends in school, so we received lists of the most interesting places to go the best places to eat, maps and valuable travel info. from them-thanks Marcello!

Rome
St. Peter's square at dusk

Our favorite time to venture out was mid-day; we shopped, walked around, ate and talked as the sun began to weaken and the best time of the day for Emili and I was seeing the sights as the sun began to set. All the touristy sights were packed with people (not my scene) in the early part of the day, it’s not easy to take great photos when there are throngs of tourists everywhere. But in the evening, St. Peter’s square in the Vatican was empty! and I was thrilled! These long walks afforded us time to talk; Emili and I talked about things that don’t come up on a regular basis at home. Walking through St. Peter’s square and around the Vatican, we talked about religion, it seemed appropriate. Emili had a lot of questions about nuns and priests, about how they dressed, what they believed in and how they were connected to The Vatican. She told me that she and her friends at school have had discussions about religion and religious differences and respecting those differences. I was impressed at this level of discussion for 9 and 10 year olds and the mention of respecting their differences made my heart sing!

Pinocchio in rome
Pinocchio wood shop in Rome

We found the small Bertolucci Shop while wandering around the tiny street of Rome; they specialize in wood carving and Pinocchio dolls. This was right up my alley of coarse, I bought I small finely carved Pinocchio for myself. I believe I will needle felt a Pinocchio doll in the future, I’ve always wanted to make one! There was a corner of the store showing the wood carving tools and pieces of wood in different stages of carving, a real artist’s workshop-you don’t see that very often.

Tiber statues
Statues along the Tiber River

After walking around the Piazza Navona area, we started to cross the wide and highly adorned Ponte’ Sant Angelo (one of the bridges with the statues) and Emili started dancing. We were listening to a very talented guitar player, his playing put a pep in our step, we dropped a few coins in his hat because we admired his talent and we continued to boogie across the Tiber River on our way back to our hotel.

crumbly walls
Roman, textured walls- LOVE

I studied in Florence, Italy when I was in university, so Italy has a special place in my heart. Italy was a place of firsts for me and it was a new world that I never knew existed! I’m hoping that our travels will inspire things in my girls. My oldest daughter asked me once why should she read “old classic literature” when she liked “the new stuff” better. The answer to this question was was so obvious to me, that I had a hard time putting my answer into words. But basically, I tried to explain to her that there are a lot of ideas, experiences, thoughts and feelings out there in books and music and foreign cities that have never crossed your young mind and once you find them in one of these places you will be “delighted” and want to seek more.

inspiration in Rome
Emili in the Colosium

Classic architecture, crumbly old buildings, ancient, chipping, ochre-colored walls, tiny narrow alleyways, beautiful, tiny shops, tall pointy trees, bumpy, black, cobblestone streets, colorful markets and teeny-tiny cars (all of which Emili had to have her picture taken with) were the sights that delighted us in Rome. It’s good to get away every now and then, away from my daily routine and surroundings, it gives me the time to realize how lucky I am and the chance to make life-long memories. Emili says her favorite part of our trip was the Colusium, because we lied down on a grassy hill outside of it, snuggled up together and took a little nap in the sun after we had roamed around the big circular stadium for a few hours.

Roman vacation
Ochre walls and shutters

After Emili and I had walked, eaten, shopped and sight-seen for the day, we went back to the Casale de Cedri (the ochre colored 19th century villa we stayed at on the outskirts of Rome-owned by an aristocratic family as their summer home). We spent the evening in the living room that over looks the manicured grounds full of vines and flowers, fountains and maze-shaped bushes that Emili described as an Alice and Wonderland type garden. Emili played games and watched Pet Shop videos on my computer, which are her passion right now and I read my book. We sat on the elegant, white sofa together, but every evening, she slowly inched toward me so that our legs touched and our elbows got in each other’s way. I looked over at her because maybe she didn’t realize that she was crowding my space, then she gave me an adoring smile and this was my favorite part of our trip, every evening on the sofa together!

architecture
Architectural flourish in Rome

 

We Love our Pets

needle felted gnome
Little needle felted gnome and his pet hedgehog

I’m thinking about pets today, how fun they are, how much they make us laugh, how much responsibility they are and how sad it is when they die. My daughter’s pet rat died today, he was 3 years old, that’s as old as rats get. He lived a very pampered life, she cared for him like a child; talking to him, feeding him, hanging out with him, caring for him when he became sick. We bought her the rat 3 years ago when she needed a friend (her best friend had just moved away). Bibbel (the rat’s name) was a sweet rat and he knew Elli, he was calmer with her and he came to her when she called him, he was sort of like a little dog (if you use your imagination). In the 3 years that she had Bibbel, I’ve watched her care for this animal and I’ve learned a lot about her loving nature and I believe that she has learned the same thing about herself. This evening has been about remembering “the good times”, about consoling her and trying to find the right things to say to her. Good-bye Bibbel.

little friend
Elli and her pet rat Bibbel
  
pet rat
We learn from our pets

Ma’Asiya=Makers

natural items
Ma'Asia shop in Jaffa is full of interesting, natural, handmade pieces

I set out for inspiration the other day; I wandered into Jaffa, my favorite place to be inspired. I was strolling around the flea market area and  I went into a shop called Ma’Asiya (Ma’Asiya in Hebrew means “makers” ). The store’s owner is Puaa Ladizinsky, she’s filled the store with beautiful, natural and handmade pieces from around the world. As I looked at all the interesting clothes, scarves, toys and curiosities in the shop, the shop keeper asked me if I wanted to hear the story of how the store came about. Oh! A friendly shop keeper-I was definitly  interested, so she proceeded to explain to me who the “makers” of the shop are. 

natural, handmade
Puaa and an artist of toy elephants

Pua works with special groups of people who make handmade, natural items; the special pieces are made by retarded adults, mentally exhausted people, refugees, single mothers, old Russian grandmothers, local artisans and others. Pua told me that “people are special” and I believe the store and the pieces inside are as well.

knitted dresses
Russian grandmothers knit wool dresses for Ma'Asiya

The shopkeeper continued with her story, in the corner is a rack of brightly colored jackets. These jackets are made from old pique blankets that were very popular here in Israel in the 1950’s. All the kindergartens used the blankets for nap time because they were cotton and light weight and most Israeli’s are familiar with the fabric; the blankets and now the jackets bring back fond memories for Israeli’s. The jackets are 2 layers thick and made in Israel.

pique jackets
Pique jackets from 1950's blankets
  
Israeli jackets
My favorite jacket!

I particularly liked that I could find unique things in the store from far away places; I love boutiques with one of a kind pieces and things I’ve never seen before. The pieces in the store are made from a wide array of natural materials such as cotton, bamboo fiber, hemp, goat’s hair, linen, felt and wool. And of course you can find treasures from the Jaffa, Shuk ha Pish Pisheem Fleamarket, in which the shop is located.

flea market tins
Antique German tins
  
notebooks
Re-purposed books-old books made into notebooks
 
flea market items
Flea market furniture add character to Ma'Asiya

 

Hemp bag to carry your veggies and groceries

 

Tiny "gnome-sized" knife from India

 

decorations
Decorations made from candy wrappers from India

 

handmade
Tibetan prayer tool, you spin the center piece with your finger to keep yourself humble before you pray.

 

masia shop in jaffa
Decorative South African pods look like smooth pine cones.

 

handmade
Intricately, knitted flowers from Turkey are used as trim. Amazing!

 

handmade
Wonderfully fragrant soaps made by artist in Neve Tzedek, Israel

 

handmade
Purchases are presented to you in a re-purposed sheet bag
 
 

Ma’Asiya: www.maasiya.co.il

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/%D7%9E%D7%A2%D7%A9%D7%99%D7%94-Maasiya/173264876057819?sk=info

Rabi Yohanan 3 St. Flea Market-Jaffa TLV 68138
maasiyafo@gmail.com
972-3-5187358

Our “Epic” Halloween Party

halloween fun for kids
Zombie Elli

My daughter Elli had an “epic” Halloween party; epic is the new in word the kids are using theses days, as the word “lame” was not too long ago-FYI. The party was for the 12 year old crowd, with a few 9 year olds thrown in for good measure (Emili’s friends). It’s hard to celebrate American holidays here in Israel for a few reasons, the main one being that since American holidays aren’t celebrated here, you don’t get the day off and Halloween for example, is just another Monday. It’s difficult to have a party on a Monday night when parents have work the next day and children have school. You can’t trick or treat because Israeli’s don’t really understand what that is or really how to do it. (The American school does organize a trick or treat night in a neighboring town to Tel Aviv, but you need to be affiliated with the school or get tickets from someone in the school). About 5 or 6 years ago, some friends who had lived in America for quite a while had a children’s Halloween party. They asked a few of their neighbors to give out candy to the children in costume that would be knocking on their doors that evening. The neighbors ended up throwing the candy and pita bread at the children (?); maybe they got the whole handing out candy idea mixed up with throwing rice at a wedding! (?) Costumes are only out at Purim time in Israel and these costumes are mostly lame and poorly made and last but not least, it’s hard to find a pumpkin around here and the ones I have seen are white! Obstacles for sure, but with a little ingenuity and determination, a very scarry Halloween party can be achieved… 

horror movies
The big kids watched a horror movie and screamed and screamed and screamed

You can’t really find Halloween decorations here,   but we did found a few skulls, bones, skelatons and spiders in a junky toy shop in Florentine. We ordered a few special things from America and had my sister send them to us; we ordered cookie molds for witch fingers and bones and a jello mold for a brain. And as usual, we made many of our decorations; I made the girls’ costumes and ratty, tattered curtains that we hung on the windows and used to cover walls. I drug home several big tree branches that I found along the side of the road and put them around the front door and we scattered leaves in the front garden around the cardboard tombstones that Elli made. I spread my needle felting wool over lights and in corners and put spiders all over them, I spread white sheets over everything, dimmed the lights and played spooky music…

We had tasty treats…

halloeen decoration
Brains, Severed Heads and eerie skulls
halloween cookies
Finger and bone cookies
children's halloween party
Ghoulish candy
Horror on Halloween
Putrid Punch
halloween treats
Crunchy rat snacks

We had Ghoulish guests…

haunted house
Ghoulish guest Michal

We had an evil hostess…

halloween party for kids
Would you like a slice of brain?

And most importantly, we had horrible ambiance…

spider decorations
Creepy, crawly spiders
Halloween ambiance
haunted living room
haunted house curtains
Haunted House Curtains
skull decorations
skull lights

The kids danced in the basement (dungeon) but adults and their cameras were banned from this part of the haunted house, thus I don’t have any dancing photos:( Don’t worry, we knew what was going on down there the whole time because the 9 year old guests tattled on the 12 year old guests every chance they got!

And in one rare moment when I wasn’t cleaning, serving or monitoring the kids, Doron and I boogied to the horror of our children, then someone broke a whole glass bottle of orange juice and I had to go back to clean up duty.

halloween fun
Doron and Laura boogie

All in all, the kids rated this party a success!