We are big fans of Laura Lee here at Honey Rose Crafts! We first discovered her at the Country Living show when we chatted to her dad about her gorgeous designs. A while ago we (virtually) sat down with Laura for tea and asked her a few questions about what it’s like to be a creative and work for yourself.
1: Mug or cup?
Ohh… now that’s a hard one, being a ceramic artist I use an assortment of beverage holders! A cats teacup and saucer at my studio, a flamingo mug for breakfast tea, a Retro Flowers teacup and saucer when friends are around and one of my pint mugs in the sheep design when there’s serious work to be done!
2: Assam? Darjeeling? Or any other blend?
English breakfast tea is very special to me, it reminds me of lazy mornings with my husband, Matt, of which there are very few! I also love a blackberry or peppermint tea, it really awakens the senses!
3: How do you take your tea?
Strong but with a good amount of milk unless it’s a fruit or peppermint tea, in which case I like it just on it’s own.
4: Cake or biscuit? (Or whatever else you prefer to eat with tea, if anything)
Ohhh…I love a tunnocks tea cake or anything that reminds me of parties really! Something fun!
5: What have you been up to today?
Today I’ve been painting a new range of mugs for the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth, it’s been very exciting! I’m also trying to work my way through a big “spring clean” at my workshop which seems to be an everlasting task. We have some new insulation going in for the winter. We also dragged my old sofa up there so I’m looking forward to a very cosy winter of painting with my feet up!
6: What’s a normal day like in your life/line of work?
Long! I don’t start very early, but I do work until 3 or 4am during busy times. The morning starts with breakfast, I have three children aged 6, 10 and 14 so I usually spend the early hours with them, getting them ready for and seeing them off to school. Then it’s off to my workshop with a pack of biscuits, a bag of sketches, an ipad, my order book and anything else I’ll need for the day ahead.
My workshop is at my parents smallholding on the top of a hill which helps me to keep my work out of the house. We don’t have internet in the workshop, but I’m allowed to sneak over to the main house and use theirs to keep up with the days messages and orders (it’s also the perfect time to nab a cuppa and have a natter with Mum) Most of my day is spent painting my china pieces but I do stop for regular breaks to feed custard creams to my neighbouring geese and to enjoy the fantastic views I have over the reservoir and hills.
Sometimes after school the children will join me in the workshop and we’ll all watch a little film on my ipad whilst I finish the days painting, The Sound of Music is proving to be a firm favourite at the moment and we can probably be heard by the neighbouring farms singing along to all the songs!
7: How do you stay inspired and keep on top of your work?
The inspiration for my work comes from life so it’s all around me, constantly. I have hundreds of scraps of paper covered in sketches, phrases and ideas and as I have a large range of designs already, I’m learning to leave them for the future, rather than developing all into finished pieces straight away. Having said that, I do have a range of new hand painted vases being released one at a time, each one is a one-off piece allowing me to bring a few of my archived designs to life! Keeping on top of my work is becoming an increasing problem as my popularity grows. At the moment it’s managed by long hours, but we have recently released a few printed pieces which are proving to be very popular and are helping to spread the workload.
8: Do you work/craft with friends or alone?
I’m very lucky to have my husband a few days a week to help with the general running of the business such as packing parcels and answering the phone, but I will have to look to the future soon and consider a larger premises and some staff!
9: What are you working on at the moment?
The Christmas catalogue is under way at the moment. I do all my own product photography so I’ve been carting china around to different locations and snapping away, hoping for something amazing! It’s all trial and error as I have no real training in what I do, I tend to leap into to it and think later, I’m a natural risk taker, but I often find it pays off!
10: Do you feel inspired or supported by your community and how does that manifest itself in your craft?
I have a wealth of Cornish collectors who seek me out at local shows and exhibitions. They are always filled with excitement about my work and let all their friends know about me. They are of constant inspiration as I often undertake commissioned work and listen to ideas of what they’d like to see next! I am also captain of the Cornish Artists on Etsy Team which brings together over 75 Cornwall based artists in a forum where they can interact and share ideas and useful contacts, I have made some wonderful friends there.
11: How do you interact with your fans?
My main contact with fans is through social media. Facebook is my favourite as it allows me to talk to groups of fans or to message an individual about a specific order. I have made so many personal friends who started as customers but have become much much more. I try to get to know each of my customers personally to make their “Laura Lee” piece as personal to them as possible, many families order a piece for each baby born into their family which is just lovely. We’ve had great fun on facebook this year with our 13th birthday celebrations. At the moment there’s a Laura Lee Designs themed cake bake and a treasure hunt on our website! www.lauraleedesigns.co.uk When the treasure hunt started there were so many thousands of fans rushing to our site that it crashed the server! Which was both terrifying and fantastic at the same time!
12: Who is your biggest craft hero?
I’m quite in love with the work of Abigail Brown, I’m sure you’ve heard of her, she makes the most beautiful fabric birds and papier mache animals, I believe her work was in the windows of Libertys recently. I am lucky enough to own a few pieces proudly displayed in my home. I also adore the work of Cornwall based artist Wendy Fyers, she paints the most beautifully detailed animals, I played swapsies with her last Christmas which was great fun! She is hard working with a wonderful sense of humour. I admire how individual both these artists are, it’s very difficult to create a unique and recognisable style, and to stay true to it.
13: What blogs are you currently following?
I don’t really have time to look through blogs but my fellow artist and friend Pipany has a lovely little blog that I like to read, it’s a lovely look at family life as an artist in Cornwall.
14: What exciting things are happening on the craft scene for you right now?
I’ve just been accepted at the Christmas Crackers exhibition at Sheffield Museum for the second year running which I’m looking forward to. The staff there are lovely and it’s always a joy to be part of the event. I’m also looking at having an open studio day on the run up to Christmas, which I know will be well attended if I can get it tidy enough!
15: What do you hope to explore in the future?
I stock galleries throughout the UK and in L.A. with my hand painted china which is wonderful. I would like to stock more galleries and shops but as my work is limited by how many pieces I can produce. I am hoping to look into expanding my new printed ranges so that my business can continue to grow. Keeping my products British with a personal touch is very important to me, so I will never stop producing hand painted pieces, I wouldn’t know how.
Thank you for chatting with us, Laura, it was lovely to sit down and have a cuppa with you! Do check out Laura’s amazing designs on her website.