A few years ago, a young lady knit an incredible life-sized Ferrari. Do you remember that? Anyway, I looked her up, and thought I’d dig into her brain a little bit.
Introducing Lauren Porter to the Pop Shop America Blog…
Please tell us a little about yourself and your artistic background. Where are you from? Where are you now?
I have always made things and love figuring out how things are made. I studied fine art at university in Bath, UK and then moved to London. A few years ago I went back school to study and am now a qualified and practicing art therapist. I am passionate about sharing creativity in a way to help people communicate. I am currently working with teenagers with special needs, but also have experience working in adult mental health. For many years, I have also worked in horticulture and find being with plants a very inspiring. I like to have a varied week!
Did you always know you wanted to be a creator and an artist? Was there ever any doubt?
I remember drawing a picture of a horse when I was six years old and my mum telling me that there were schools you can go to where you just draw pictures and make things. There was no doubt in my mind that that was what I wanted to do.
I have always loved working with and being around other people. I have never wanted to just be a studio artist. The combination of making my own work alongside being an art therapist suits me and they, no doubt, inform one and other.
When you start a new project, do you like to sketch and plan or just wing it?
I have never been one to use a sketchbook. I like to observe and work from photographs. I enjoy the process of figuring out how to make something as I go along and learning from each project.
Obviously, for the larger scale projects, such as the knitted Ferrari, it did take some planning. I used a toy car to get the scale right but made patterns for the knitting as I went along. The frame was the real challenge for me, I loved the challenge of making something which could be taken apart.
Your creations have such precise stitching and so many details. May you walk us through a general start-to-finish process?
With the birds I will spend a lot of time thinking and observing. Sometimes sub-consciously. The real interest for me lies in the challenge to capture the characters, shapes and balance of the subject from a sculptural perspective, by simplifying the form down. I am always thinking about how I can say more with less.
I start by making a wire amateur to reflect the anatomy of the bird, this helps me balance it without making big clumsy feet. I then use a variety of materials to shape it, including wadding, which is light weight. The fabric is shaped and stitched directly onto the piece, making each on unique.
What’s your work-space like?
I work from home, surrounded by plants. I like to be around my tools and materials so have decided not to hire a studio.
What turned you on to textile art?
I like to construct things and work in 3D. I also like to play with the social and historical connotations of what traditional craft might represent. By using craft in a fine art context I am able to play with peoples’ perceptions. I also like the portability of using stitching and knitting, not being restricted to a studio appeals to me.
What are your favorite art supplies?
I tend to find what I need for a particular piece. I am not a ‘collector’ of art materials or fabrics (although I do have quite a collection!) but use them as a tool to convey what I need to. I think my favorite tools are good quality scissors and threads, and bits and pieces my mum has given me over the years.
What makes you happiest in life?
Apart from the people in my life… I think, having the opportunity to use my creativity to inspire and help people, through my own making and helping others to make.