Check out this new feature about Prairie Threads, an awesome lady who loves making handmade things!
Check her out on Etsy!!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Laura, I’m married, and I have 2 teenage daughters. I live in the geographic centre of Canada in Winnipeg, Manitoba, land of big skies and wide open prairies. In 2008 when I opened my Prairie Peasant shop on Etsy, a friend asked “Will it be paper or fabric?” knowing that I love to create with both. Well, I did start with a bit of both, but quickly specialized in handbound books, handmade envelopes and other paper goods. Not being able to stay away from the fabric, I opened my Prairie Threads shop in 2010, where I sell fabric coiled mats and baskets and handknit items.
Being eco-friendly is very important to me, so all of my items use recycled or upcycled materials. I love to take a once loved thrifted cotton shirt, and upcycle it into a set of coiled mats and coasters. I can transform the “uglies” (i.e. wild or dated prints) into beautiful baskets, where you see the colours and not the prints. Obsolete computer paper with tractor feed perforations becomes the pages for my recycled map travel journals.
2. Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I have a career as an Occupational Therapist; I’m currently working part time with clients with mental illness at a community hospital. It’s a great job where I never get bored because every client and each situation is unique.
My daughters are both very artistic and creative. I love helping them develop their talents and skills while working on creative projects together. I’m an avid thrift shopper and I’m happy that my daughters are learning that it is easier on the both the wallet and the environment to shop at thrift shops and refashion clothes to suit your style.
3. What’s the most important question a customer/client should ask you when considering purchasing from you?
I would love it if they would ask if there is a story behind the item, or what the inspiration for creating it was! For me, knowing the story behind an item makes it all the more special. It is also wonderful to hear after a purchase, what the customer is using my items for.
4. What’s the most memorable custom order you’ve created?
I was asked to make a larger coiled mat in a rainbow progression of colours. That mat turned out beautifully, and was the inspiration to make many more rainbow mats and baskets. My customers have great ideas, and I’m usually up to a new challenge!
5. What would be the title of your memoir and why?
Something from Nothing. I would like to say I thought of this myself, but it is the title of one of my favourite children’s books, by Phoebe Gilman. In the story, Joseph’s grandfather makes him a wonderful baby blanket. When the blanket becomes worn and tattered, rather than throwing it away, Joseph returns it to his grandfather, who makes something new from what is left. This continues with new items being made from the previous item, until Joseph is left with a very small item. I love this story because it teaches you to look at items in new ways, and you can almost always find a way to reuse something rather than throw it away.
6. Where does your inspiration come from?
Usually I have far too many ideas, and not enough time! When I’m not sure what to make next, I’ll look through my materials and let them tell me what to make next. Very often a fabric that I’ve had for a while and passed over, will suddenly shout out to me what I should make with it! My children also have a fresh perspective and are quite free in making suggestions as to what I should make with a specific material.
7. What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means there is a person at the other end of the created item. I love knowing that an individual had an idea and was able to carry it through in a very unique way. I love that there is an endless variety of possibilities when you choose handmade (both as a buyer and as a creator).
8. Who has been the most influential person for your business?
That’s a tough question, because who I am today (and what I do) has been influenced by every person I have met throughout my lifetime! I don’t think I can name one specific person, but I will say my family, starting with my family as I grew up and now the family my husband and I have created. All of my life I have been nurtured and surrounded by people who valued creativity, handmade and doing your best.
9. How would you describe your creative process?
I am wonderfully gifted at procrastinating! I will make lists of things to do, and then get many things accomplished—but not the things on my list! These “distractions” are actually very important in getting creative details worked out in my subconscious mind; when I am ready to get creative, things usually flow fairly smoothly since I have already worked out the steps ahead of time.
10. If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
It would be a toss up between William Morris and Leonardo da Vinci. I admire William Morris for his part in the Arts and Crafts movement and in reviving traditional art forms, and Leonardo da Vinci for his boundless curiosity and imagination.
11. What handmade possession do you most cherish?
For our 25th wedding anniversary last year, my husband went to a local jewelry designer and had a family ring designed that mirrored the design of our wedding bands, but with the birthstones of each member of our family. Not only is it beautiful, but it represents our love, still growing stronger after 25 years together!
12. How do you get out of your creative ruts?
The best thing to do is something totally different: go for a walk, read a good book, cook or bake, etc.
13. Where would you like to be in ten years?
It’s hard to imagine, but in ten years I expect I will be in another stage of life. My kids will be grown, and possibly living on their own. I hope I will be retired from my day job! I know that I will still be creating in some form–whether it will still be sewing and bookbinding remains to be seen!