My name is Laura Frisk and I currently live near the mountains by Salt Lake City, Utah. I’m a creator by nature and love anything that is hands-on, especially painting, printmaking and sculpting. I put most of my time and energy into making woodblock printed pillows inspired by animals, nature and my childhood.
I start with a doodle in my notebook, usually inspired by a hike in the mountains. When one of my scribbles stands out, I make a loose sketch of it on a piece of salvaged wood. From there, I carve out all of the wood that isn’t part of the drawing, adding detail as I go. It’s a very organic and rhythmic process – I always have music on so I can carve to the beat. I like to work in the early morning, after my husband has gone to school and I have the day to myself. I take breaks and go on walks with a cup of coffee, play with my cat, and browse Etsy. When the carving is done, I roll a brayer with eco-friendly, water-based ink over the block and hand press the image into a piece of natural fabric with a burnisher. From there, I take the print, sew it into a pillow and stuff it.
I started making my prints into pillows because I received a large bolt of fabric as a gift a few years ago and had no idea what to do with it. Sewing machines scared me; I had never really worked on anything besides paper. I browsed the web for inspiration and learned that woodblock prints (my favorite medium) were originally printed on fabric to create patterned textiles. I filled my sketchbook with ideas, and decided to try my hand at pillow making.
My fear of sewing machines subsided, and after tweaking my process and materials until they were just right, I realized I was spending more time making pillows than anything else. It was so much fun! I love how much work goes into them, and all the different processes (drawing, carving, printing, cutting, sewing and stuffing) that are needed to make each one. It’s always exciting to see them transform and come to life with my own hands.
I make art with a child’s heart and an adult’s mind. I always make things that make me happy. I try to keep my drawings ageless, so they bring color and playfulness to a room without being overwhelming. I love that my pillows have been put in nurseries, dorm rooms, living rooms and office buildings by people of all ages. The same pillow printed in a different color can have a completely different personality, which is why I let my customers pick out any ink and fabric color they like. I love that this lets them be creative in their selections – it always makes me smile to hear they had fun with their order.
I see Etsy as an opportunity for both buyers and sellers. In a world that is primarily focused on mass production, quick results and big business, there aren’t many outlets for small artisans and creative people to offer their creations to the public, especially on a large scale. Etsy is that outlet. It’s so cool that I can purchase items directly from creators all over the world on one website. It also gives the public the chance to get better quality and unique products that they will love, rather than just live with. You can always tell when an item has been made with heart and care versus when it’s assembled by a machine.
My creative business has made me dedicated to my craft, but first and foremost it has given me freedom and confidence in my work. I quit my day job (telemarketing, blah!) right after college so I could invest all my time and energy in my creations, and crossed my fingers that someone, somewhere would love them. As my shop here on Etsy slowly began to pick up, my dreams became a reality. Being fully responsible for my future and dependent on myself is scary but exhilarating. It keeps me honest, diligent, and active in my creative process. Above all, it makes me a much happier person.
All photographs by Laura Frisk.