Meet the Maker - Liz Pope

Thursday, July 11, 2013
Today's Meet the Maker interview comes from the lovely Liz Pope. Liz's laser cut wooden jewellery is inspired by literature... over to Liz to find out more...

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work? 
My name is Liz, I’m a laser technician and illustrator living in Bristol. I make laser-cut wooden jewellery from my own illustrations, which I sell on Etsy as The Flying Teapot Shop. I’ve always had a love of art, though my main interest is in illustration; I’ve worked on commissions for book covers, album art and other projects. My day job is as a laser technician, making things to other peoples’ designs, but in my spare time I use my laser know-how to cut my own designs; in this way I can combine my job and my interest in art. It is always so exciting seeing my drawings being cut on the lasers. I think it’s really interesting combining the hand-drawn with the computer-manufactured, and there are just so many possibilities. 

Where does your inspiration come from? 
I get my inspiration from all sorts of places. Sometimes just from objects that have character, bringing them to life in a simple print or etched wooden brooch, such as my typewriter and accordion designs. I’m also hugely inspired by literature and fine art – these were always my two passions. I studied English Literature at University, but have since returned to more art-based pursuits. I designed a set of brooches with three Romantic poets - Shelley, Byron and Keats (Keats being my favourite - I have loved his poetry since school). My hummingbird brooches were inspired by the work of Frida Kahlo, who’s paintings I’ve been revisiting since reading a book of poems by Pascale Petit which are responses to her work. 

Describe your studio or workspace? 
I do most of my Flying Teapot Shop work from home; my work space is just my dining room table at the moment. I’d love to have a whole room as a creative studio, but it’s not really possible in the small house I’m in. I think it’s just important to make the best of whatever space you have available by keeping things organised. 

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
I’d love to see where Tove Jansson did her work; she’s one of my favourite writers, but was also an artist. She’s most famous for the Moomin books which she wrote and illustrated, but she was also a brilliant painter and writer of adult fiction (and sort of autobiographical fiction). She was such a fascinating person, I would have loved to have known her. She travelled a lot, and lived for a time on a tiny island. Work was very important to her; she writes about it in Fair Play which is about two artists who live at opposite ends of an apartment building in Helsinki. The way they interact and create, together and separately, is a beautiful portrait of the companionship of two creative people. 

What is a typical work day for you? 
I usually spend the days I’m not lasering coming up with new designs and sketches, as well as working on other art projects. When I have a design I’m happy with, I need to make it ready for converting to a cutting file. This means re-drawing everything neatly in fine black pen, copying onto tracing paper, then scanning and editing the design in the design programme. Only then is it ready for cutting. It can be quite a time consuming process, especially for pieces with a lot of etched detail, and with different depths of etching. But it’s definitely worth spending the time to perfect it; any errors in the design will only cause problems later on! With some designs I pre-paint the wood, others I paint after cutting which is quite a delicate process. I think the hand painting of the wood brings a more personal and individual touch to something that has been laser-cut. They all turn out a little differently, which I think is where there charm lies. 

Apart from creating things what else do you enjoy doing? 
Aside from creative pursuits, I’m interested in literature, and I read all sorts of books. I also love cooking interesting vegetarian things, and gardening in my little patch of garden (especially growing herbs and tomatoes that can then go in my cooking!) As I spend most days either at a computer working on designs, or on my days off drawing at my desk, I find it important to get out and do active things as often as I can. It certainly helps to come back to ideas with fresh eyes. I like to go out running along the river, and through the local parks, and I have also been practising karate for the last two years. I’m also a bit of a tea-enthusiast, so I have a lot of tea breaks – a different kind of tea each time! I have a large collection housed in my home-made willow pattern tea shelves.

Tell us your current loves: 
In Bristol there are a lot of great places for buying beautiful handmade gifts and artwork. There are often little craft and vintage markets on, such as at the Full Moon in Stokes Croft. I also love the Harbourside market for jewellery (and the samosas), and the Watershed and Arnolfini bookshop have some great cards by local artists. Canteen in Stokes Croft is one of my favourite places to eat in Bristol, there’s lots of delicious seasonal food and good music, and all in a lovely atmosphere. And Cafe Kino is great, also for the life drawing classes they run every week. That’s what I like so much about living in Bristol; that a great cafe might also sell handmade gifts by local artists, or a pub display some fantastic local artwork, or run art classes, or be a good spot for seeing music. There’s a lot of creativity out there! 

If you were stranded somewhere in the wilds, what item would you need with you the most? 
If I was stranded in the wilderness somewhere, I’d definitely need to have a good book with me. Something dense, and gripping, maybe by Margaret Atwood or A.S. Byatt. I’d also need a little drawing book and a nice fine pen. And a small tin tea kettle, a good supply of tea leaves, and maybe a tin of biscuits to go with it!

Thank you Liz!  Yes a good book and an endless supply of tea, would be great when stranded in the wilds or in the garden for that matter!  You can find Liz's laser cut jewellery in our Paper Scissors Stone shop.

Paper Scissors Stone
Quakers Friars
Cabot Circus

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