|Laura Rodgers of Gourdshine|
My name is Laura Rodgers. I grew up in the Chicago-land area and currently reside on a lovely woodland hill in Northern Illinois, just minutes away from the Illinois-Wisconsin border. My timber-frame home was built from an 1851 barn and lends itself beautifully as a place to create. I have filled it with antiques and surrounded it with gardens. Gardening and antiquing are two of my hobbies along with my art. When people ask me if I have a home studio I reply, “My entire home is my studio.”
While I enjoy painting, I consider myself a collage artist of sorts. Having an eclectic art education including an art scholarship, my jewelry, mosaics and gourds are the mainstay of my art. Beads, stones and metals presented in my work help me to obtain the expressions I want to convey. I work on pieces of different mediums concurrently.
I find inspiration in so many things: nature, people, travel, trends, fashion, books, television and the web are all daily sources. Since I was a child I enjoy transforming the ordinary by looking beyond the obvious and creating something original and more pleasing to my eye.
Sometimes I work hard on coming up with new ideas and other times they seem to be right in front of me. Usually if I have an exciting new idea I try my best to create it as soon as possible while it’s fresh in my mind. I also carry a notebook to sketch and jot down ideas as they arise.
In elementary school one of my most memorable art moments happened in the second grade. It was the day we made cut and paste jack-o-lanterns. I gave mine eyelashes, cut and fringed with black construction paper. Soon I noticed almost the whole class cutting and pasting eyelashes on their jack-o-lanterns! I wasn’t too happy about it, but later learned that imitation is the best flattery!
I started making and selling jewelry designs in 1995. Remember angel pins? Through the years I have changed my designs countless times to stay fresh and interesting. Currently I am working on steampunk styles, silverware jewelry and plan a collection of lacy white filigree pieces for spring. I feel quite lucky to create something I really enjoy making and I can advertise it by wearing it and adorn myself too!
My mosaics are mostly made with stained glass. While I have done pieces with tiles and pottery, stained glass offers a wonderful palette of colors and I like to think of the glass as my “paint.” Incorporating beads, stones, and metals offers interesting and pleasing textures to the piece. A bar top, a backsplash, mirrors, and my own bathroom vanity top are among the many home decorating pieces I have done. I really like the permanence mosaic art gives.
Gourd art intrigues me. Gourds are nature’s canvas. Their unusual and curvy shapes present a challenge. They lend themselves to so many artistic options. In addition to carving, painting and wood burning designs on them, I make gourd jewelry using small pieces. There is a common saying among gourd artists that “They speak to you.” Many of the gourds that I had intended for a certain project became something quite different once I started!
Art is a daily part of my life. Working on different projects at the same time is refreshing for me as many times, I will move from one piece to another. Upon returning to the projects I self-critique my work and usually finish quite satisfied.
Currently I have items in the College of Lake County’s Artcetera Gallery in Grayslake IL , The Cottage Shoppe in Milburn IL and Harvest Moon Gallery in Green Lake Wisconsin. Creating, holding a full time job and having a family leaves little time to be active in Art leagues and organizations. I would like to be active in them, as being involved is a great way to promote yourself and share ideas with other artists. If you have the time, I strongly encourage joining one.
I am considering teaching gourd classes this summer. Someday, when I retire my plan is to teach classes in my home studio.
My advice for someone just starting out is to go for it, however, take baby steps at first to test the waters. Stay current, have a variety of items, and try and find your niche out there.
I sometimes sell my work at local art shows. Commissions, jewelry parties and a few home shows seem to be better ways for me to sell. I haven’t done many internet sales, but certainly would consider it. I have a blog I use mostly to showcase my work. I tell people that my blog is mostly to take a lookie-see. You can find me at http://gourdshine.blogspot.com. or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was asked by CCC what would I do if I won a million dollars? I definitely would travel more. Publishing an art project book might be on my horizon and I also would like to open an art boutique, donating proceeds to a local charity.