Vintage Inspired Hand Made Decor by Laura Kennedy
This month I am excited to showcase Vintage Inspired Hand Made Decor by Laura Kennedy; AKA Esther and Irene. Laura and I first met when our sons were in kindergarten together some 15 years ago. Little did I know how many things we had in common! We both are graphic designers and now have had long careers in design. Also, we have both held on to a long-standing love for handmade arts since childhood. Learn how Laura is now creating a business around her passion.
Laura Kennedy’s Vintage Style
Welcome, Laura! Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I’m a native Minnesotan who grew up in the country but loves living in the city of St. Paul. We live near Lake Phalen in our 95-year craftsman style home. My husband and I raised our two sons here. The oldest is in college and the youngest is in high school.
I attended the School of the Associated Arts in St. Paul and earned a degree in Graphic Design. My first job was at WCCO TV creating computer graphics for the news. After that, I worked at various post-production facilities in Minneapolis designing and animating for commercials, corporate videos, and films.
When were you first drawn to this style of art?
I’ve always been interested in vintage designs and materials. I am particularly fond of vintage postcards and have been collecting them for over 30 years. My favorite subjects on vintage postcards are anthropomorphic animals. I love vintage papers, ornaments, and decor. My style is a combination of vintage materials and styles with a more contemporary feel.
Esther and Irene; The Seed is Planted
What inspires you and your work?
I love to make pieces or decorations for the holidays. All of the holidays were special when I was a kid, with traditions and great memories. Both of my grandmothers would make the holidays seem magical. My maternal grandmother encouraged my artistic, whimsical side while my paternal grandmother had a florist business with my grandfather and instilled a love of flowers, nature, and hard work. When I decided to sell my artwork online I chose their names, Esther and Irene, because of how beautifully vintage they sound and how happy they would make everyone around them feel, especially during the holidays.
How do you decide on the direction of a piece?
For the snowmen, my dad makes the basic shape on his lathe from a block of wood. Based on the shape I decide on colors and a theme. Usually, I sketch out the ideas on paper. Then I will gather materials that I think would work for a particular piece and lay them out, adding and subtracting until I get a combination that I feel works. Sometimes I reference the vintage images I have to recreate a particular look.
Creating the Vintage Aesthetic
What materials do you need to do it?
Right now I’m using vintage millinery flowers, ribbons, trims, glass glitter (which is actual crushed glass that is imported from Germany, not the craft store glitter most people think of), tinsel, mica flakes, acrylic paints, glass beads, polymer clay, and paper mache boxes.
Where do you find your materials?
I find some of my materials on Etsy and eBay. Rose Mille in Stillwater, Minnesota is a great source for German Glass Glitter, the Dresden foil trims, ribbons, millinery flowers, and tinsel. They have a fabulous website. Estate sales can also be a good resource for vintage items. I get basic craft supplies like glue and acrylic paint at Michaels.
What kind of tools or patterns do you use?
I have a wide variety of glues, scissors, paper punches, wire cutters, paintbrushes, etc. I use a drill to set the eyes. When I see something I like such as a pattern, colors, or a design I take a picture and I use these references constantly.
How long does it take to do a typical project?
I usually work on multiple pieces at a time. I might paint a bunch of bases and then work on details such as sculpting noses and arms. I completed 5 snowmen in 3 days working this way. While waiting for the glue to dry on one piece I might figure out what to add to another. When I get stuck, setting it aside and looking at it with fresh eyes the next day usually helps to solve design problems.
What is your favorite item to make?
Right now, along with the snowmen, I’m enjoying making decorative treat boxes. I love containers, especially vintage candy containers that were made out of paper mache. I start with a paper mache base and I decorate them with the supplies I have been collecting for decades!
What are the biggest things you’ve learned so far?
To stop thinking so much and just do it! It’s O.K. to use materials that were meant for one purpose and apply them to your project in an unconventional way.
What advice would you give others who want to make vintage style art?
Create what makes you happy. The more you work at something the better you will be.
Where to Buy Esther and Irene’s Vintage Decor
How can people get in touch with you to purchase your art?
Thanks, Laura for sharing your story. Your work is beautiful! I love the fine details, the warmth of the glass glitter, and the whimsical touches.
I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing Laura’s artful journey and discovering how she creates her vintage decor and gift boxes. Do you have a creative dream or goal you want to accomplish? Be brave, follow your dreams, and live in the vibrancy of who you are created to be. BLOOM! The world is waiting!
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