Whimsical, witty, and one of a kind. That’s how we would describe our debut artists for December 2-4. L&R Studio is run by Lisa and Rob and is based out of Southern Manitoba. Together they produce a beautiful array of jewelry and housewares. Everything that they make is hand-crafted by Lisa, giving each piece its own unique personality.
After seeing the playful ceramic “pot heads” and colourful, braided rugs, we just had to know more about the process and inspiration behind L&R studio’s delightful pieces.
I started the studio the summer after I graduated from Art School in 2014. After working on my thesis, which centred around a heavy topic for me, I wanted a bit of a breather to focus on something different. Since I had been using primarily traditional methods of craft in my sculptural work, making the move to functional housewares was a really natural step. The textiles began as conceptual sculptures while I was in school, then when I started the studio I was making functional rugs and a few tiny wallhangings.
Then I had a small show here in Winnipeg at the Manitoba Craft Council which required everything to hang on the wall. I liked them so much that way, I made the switch to only wallhangings, but larger. The ‘pot heads’ and beads were something I made while in art school, sort of as a ‘stress reliever side project’ with the extra bits of clay I had. My process with ceramics hasn’t really had time to evolve yet. I feel like I’ve just gotten my studio set up in a way where I feel familiar enough with all the equipment that I can start to try some new things.
Honestly, the projects I'm doing with each medium are pretty unrelated. The mediums themselves have a lot of similarities but the projects I make do not currently intersect. I’m actually very careful to keep them separate for practical reasons. Clay dust and fabric don’t make a good match.
I think my favourite quality about each medium is the same; it's that they’re so tactile. With clay it's that it's so malleable. With textiles, it's the textures that each fabric comes with.
‘The mark of the hand’ isn’t something I really consider when I plan out or make my work, I guess because it’s one of those qualities that I can’t remove from the final product even if I wanted to. It’s just part of the nature of a handmade object, for better or for worse. My job is to make that handmade quality always for the better. I can’t make the wallhangings in a factory, or even do the sewing with a sewing machine because the braids are too thick. I don't use moulds in my ceramic practice because I don't feel they lend themselves to the heart of the projects I'm doing. I like irregular shapes. I like things being unique. So I embrace my own aesthetic and I work hard, I learn new techniques, source new materials, and I make handmade objects that no machine could make. Being able to recognize the time, effort, skill and patience that went into an object causes pause and reflection. It’s a good thing.
I think there are many reasons why more and more people are considering the handmade option. Handmade goods are usually better quality, sold in an environment that provides more of an 'event' type atmosphere which is fun, are ethically made and transparent about any environmental impact, benefit the local economy, and are just plain something different than what you get from mass production. People like having or collecting things that are special and different. Same same same gets boring.
I find a lot of inspiration in the limitations of my craft. Finding ways of pushing the methods I work with to do things they normally don’t is interesting and fun. Because I use second hand material, there’s limits as to what type, colour, and amount of each fabric I can actually get. It’s like a treasure hunt, and while the selection can be at times strange, it’s always changing and it forces me to work with fabrics I wouldn’t have thought of using before. Another mainstay inspiration is the landscape I’ve grown up in. The shapes made between land and sky are pretty dramatic in the prairies and I really like infusing those shapes and colours into my work. The changing seasons right now are especially inspiring.
One of the biggest challenges for me was figuring out what to charge for my work. I had a hard time keeping track of my costs and valuing my time. I ended up selling some things where I didn’t actually get paid. My material cost was covered, but I wasn’t getting compensated for my time. I started making progress when I stopped thinking about my prices as ‘can I personally buy this?’ because the reality is that I’m a recent graduate and of course I can’t go and buy a high quality wallhanging for my home right now. Have a sensible calculation to accurately price your art. Guessing doesn’t cut it. Neither does comparing your work to things you see in the mall. I would encourage anyone who is starting out to contact an experienced maker and ask questions. Consider your costs and value your time. Don’t let insecurities make their way into your prices.
My website and Instagram account are some of the best places to get info about my work:
www.landrstudio.com or @landrstudio
Or, feel free to e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org