We are very excited to share our first Featured Community Artist: Laura Kuhlmann! Laura is a member of our Walnut Hollow Influencers Program and has created several stunning projects right here on the Walnut Hollow Blog. We sat down with her to get a better idea of how she creates. Here is her story:
WH: Tell us a little about yourself:
LK: I’m a craft blogger and an artist. I could also say I’m a budding gardener (pun intended). I’m a creative spirit and love to make things and create handmade gifts, decor and do furniture makeovers for our home. I have a passion for handmade and can appreciate the time and effort that goes into creating a project, where it is a 7-year old girl painting her first canvas, a mom trying her hand at decoupage, or a fellow artist stepping out of her comfort zone.
My blog is where I share craft tutorials, home and garden projects, and occasional cat stories. I can never have enough pretty craft paints to work with, and I love to make things look time-worn with distressing and aging — especially wood projects both large and small.
My husband and I live along the coast of southern New Jersey, which has been quite a change for us after living in Boston and Philadelphia for so many years. Although we miss certain aspects of city life, we are also fully enjoying the more relaxed pace that living in a small town brings. We’re currently owned by two cats. Lulu is our 15-year old Ragdoll, who still thinks she is a kitten, and Otto is a 5-year old Ragdoll we just rescued last month.
WH: What inspires your work?
LK: As much as I love creating new handmade things, my inspiration primarily comes from vintage and antique finds. I love making a new item – for example an unfinished wood piece – look time-worn and well-loved. Even the pet sympathy greeting cards I used to make featured vintage pet images and graphics.
With gardening, I love learning about heirloom plants, whether flowers or vegetables. Even with clothing, I love wearing lace and tulle along with a sweatshirt and leggings, or a pair of lace-up shoes that have a Victorian flair – like the ivory ones I wore for my wedding 9 years ago.
WH: How did you get started making art?
LK: I can’t ever remember a time when I wasn’t making something, even as a little girl. My mother often bought me coloring books and I still remember one of my favorite Christmas gifts was the Crayola Big Box of crayons!
My first greeting card of note was one I made for my mother (when I was a wee one) for Mother’s Day. She saved it. The back says “Whole Made Cards” written in crayon. I obviously knew the importance of handmade way back then…just got the words wrong!
I also got my love of gardening from my parents, who still to this day – at 84 years of age – continue to garden together. Seeing their landscaping and gardens they’ve worked on for over 50+ years in their home is so inspiring!
In my past life, I was a trained classical flautist, cancer survivor, lover of big 80s hair, city dweller in Boston then Philly, and had an amazing career at a music college in Boston for 16 years.Through all of that, I loved making things. Even when I lived in a tiny studio apartment, I’d paint thrift store furniture or unfinished wood from the craft store. It was another creative outlet for me.
When the recession hit years ago, and sadly most of the independent pet boutiques that carried my cards began to close up, I decided to start blogging. I made stuff for me, and taught myself new techniques with the help of YouTube videos, other craft blogs and books. Lots of books. I began to get to know many crafty people via social media and through that networking I started to get hired for freelance craft projects for different craft companies.
Fast forward to today, and I’m so proud to say that in addition to my own projects for Pet Scribbles (my blog), I create craft tutorials for DecoArt (as mentioned above) and this year began working for Walnut Hollow through their Blogger and Influencer program, where I also create craft tutorials. For me, working for American companies, which produce their products here in America, is the best! The icing on the cake is that I get to use products that I’ve loved for years and am already familiar with!
WH: What is your favorite way to use wood in your art?
LK: I love painting wood, and applying different faux finishes to make something look old, whether it’s a small wood box or a large piece of furniture. Two of my favorite ways to create a distressed finish on wood are by using a candle as a wax resist for the paint, or using petroleum jelly which also serves as a resist for the paint. The finishes are different in each case but always beautiful.
My newest way to use wood – or more specifically to create with wood – is wood burning. And I have Walnut Hollow to thank for that – specifically those fantastic tutorials by Chris Wallace on YouTube! I’ve only done a handful of wood burning projects so far that I’ve shared publicly, but I’m continuing to practice and learn how to improve. I have found wood burning to be so relaxing!
WH: What’s your favorite Walnut Hollow product to work with?
LK: I have two main categories of product faves that Walnut Hollow produces: I love their Rustic Palettes line, because not only is having a pre-made palette shape easier for crafting, but the quality of these palettes is top-notch. If an unfinished wood piece looks beautiful before you do anything to it such as staining, painting, etc., then you know you have a quality piece of wood. That’s how I feel about Walnut Hollow’s rustic palettes.
The other product line I love is their Basswood line. Their unfinished basswood boxes, in particular, are stunning by themselves. And basswood is the best wood for wood burning, so now I have another reason to love this line! Right now I’m working on a project using their basswood Wood Slices and again – the quality is wonderful!
WH: What do you do for “fun”, besides creating fabulous DIY projects and art?
LK: I love to read, I love to garden, I love music. I love to go vintage browsing too. I can’t call it shopping because it can get a bit expensive, but I love a good browse in a vintage or antique store. There’s a wonderful one about 30 minutes south of us that is fantastic!
WH: What’s the next step for your business and art?
LK: I often say that I’m a work in progress, and I like it that way. Otherwise I would stop being curious and stop wanting to learn.
I’m flying out to Colorado this month to attend a weekend retreat with 12 other creative souls, and I can’t wait! I love learning from others, whether it’s from an artist leading a workshop, or it’s a fellow artist sitting next to me in the same workshop.
As 2015 begins to wind down, I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given and am looking forward to an even more creative and fulfilling 2016!
WH: Where can we see more of your work?
LK: You can visit my blog Pet Scribbles to see all of my tutorials and projects, and you can follow me on Instagram too, where you’ll see a mix of projects in process as well as cat pictures!
I’m also an artist with DecoArt, creating projects and tutorials for their website.
Every day, thousands of artists across the globe use Walnut Hollow products and share them on the internet. We’ve seen incredible pyrography paintings, beautiful chalk painted home decor, adorable clay figures, and more created with our products and tools and now, we’d like to share the story behind those artists with you. Want be to featured? Share your work on our Facebook Page.
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