So we're cutting it a little close, but this month's featured crafter is Laura Fisher of Prayer Monkey! Laura is a masterful tamer of wire -bending, twisting, and turning it every which way into beautiful jewelry and home decor. Many a customer stares in awe at her work, wondering how she coaxes the tiny, delicate wire into such intricate patterns. All decide she must be a patient woman. Patient she is, and wonderfully kind too. It comes as no surprise that Laura is also a skilled gardener, with a degree in landscape design. She's doing some pretty awesome things with her green thumb, but we won't give it away. If you'd like to learn more about this intriguing woman, read on, friends, read on...
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Laura and my company is called PrayerMonkey. I live on the south side of Richmond with my husband, two dogs, and four cats. In addition to having my own crafty business, we have an urban farm called Citygarden on the reclaimed vacant lots situated next to our house. Most of what we grow is for our own consumption but we do provide hard to find veggies and herbs for a few Richmond restaurants. Generally, we barter our goods for such things as delicious loaves of bread. I also recently joined the Richmond Craft Mafia. I’m pretty excited about that.
How did you get started?
I started crocheting with yarn when I was 8 and had broken my arm right before summer break. They needed a way to keep me occupied, so a babysitter taught me how to crochet. Much later on, after suffering a knee injury that pretty much ended my horticultural career, I decided to start crocheting with wire to see if I could make a living that way.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in many places. I like fiddling with traditional crochet patterns and seeing how they translate into wire crochet. I think my degree in landscape design helps me with symmetry and color. Planning a layout for a garden bed isn’t too different for me than planning a layout for a necklace.
What's your studio playlist?
Hmmm…My musical taste is all over the place and so is my playlist. Gary Numan, Sparks, Thee Oh Sees, Grinderman, Baxter Dury, Dan Deacon, Magazine, Buke and Gase…
Where is your studio?
I work out of my home. I usually do my crocheting in the living room. I have a good seat with lots of light in there. It also allows me to watch old movies while I am crocheting. I do have a studio proper in a spare bedroom where I put my pieces together and handle all the other aspects of the business. My dining room table is my photography studio.
How do you get yourself out of a creative rut?
If I’m in a creative rut, I try to take my mind off it by going to the gym and just blanking out or taking a nap which is sort of my way of meditating. Having the garden outside is great because I can pull weeds or plant a plant. Anything to divert my attention from the task at hand, even for a little while, makes all the difference.
You have a time machine. What place in time would you choose?
Europe during the world wars would be kind of cool. Seeing how people lived during that type of war time. How they coped with it. Also, maybe 1970’s NYC during the advent of punk rock.
What artists influence your work - who are your creative idols?
Is there a story behind your blog/shop name?
Why, yes there is! When I was a gardener for the city of Richmond, I found a statue of a monkey in a fez, reading a book, in a tree in one of the parks I took care of. I took it back to the shop with me and one of the guys asked me if the statue was one of those prayer monkeys. I wasn’t quite sure what a prayer monkey was supposed to be but I liked the name.
What's your favorite local haunt?
I’m not sure I really have a favorite haunt. There is a dive bar down the street from me called The Forest that my friend and I meet at once in a while for “Tots and Bloodys”. We eat tater tots and drink big girl Bloody Marys and blow off steam. The waitresses call you “Hon” there.
What advice to do you have for other crafty businessfolk?
I could offer so many different nuggets…I guess one of the important things is to be serious about your business if it is a business. If you are being crafty as a hobby, that is one thing but remember, once you take it into the professional realm, many things change. You really do have to step up your game in every way possible; a good product, clean pictures, and a tight image.