05 March 2012

The Nurturing of the Creative Spirit Leads to a Life Spent Designing

Inspiration traverses across generations for artist Leslie Walker of Leslie Marie by Design. While once inspired by her grandparents to embark upon a creative journey, the inspiration was again ignited by her eight-year-old daughter.

“My grandparents bought me my first set of markers when I was about four years old,” artist Leslie Walker said. She quickly graduated to oils, brushes and canvases as she tried her hand at new mediums. “I taught myself to draw when I was six from a She Ra coloring book”.

This was the beginning of a career in art spanning over 20 years.

“My grandparents thought everything I came up with was wonderful, no matter what it was,” says Leslie Walker. She attributes their love and nurturing to allowing her to explore her gift of art.

As with most creative people, she has had many different interests over the years as she worked on trying different creative voices. Along the way, thanks to her daughter, she has discovered the timeless art of jewelry creation. Not content simply to purchase commercial products, her creativity demanded she explore arts such as lampworking and the versatile medium of polymer clay to add her own touch to the jewelry.

Six years into her voyage of jewelry design and creations, Leslie Walker settled into the world of online studios and selling her creations to the world. Her daughter is currently involved with her own jewelry design, which she sells to her friends. There may come a time when we see this creative team both displaying their designs online.

Leslie Walker says that her favorite material to work with is polymer clay and has not found a thing she does not like about this medium. However, her next love is the art of lampworking and blowing glass. “I am fascinated by the patience it takes to make a beautiful bead. The glow of the molten glass is almost hypnotizing as you move the mandrel to design the bead. The finished product can either make my heart soar or it can break my heart. If I don’t have enough patience, a bead design can break. This is a challenging medium. I am always up for a challenge!”

Most of her designs create themselves and do not come from a set project unless she is doing a challenge that has been set forth by a contest, such as the guild challenges from the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild on Artfire. She lets the clay take the lead, just as she does when working with molten glass. “I can have something in mind and end up with a completely different, more wonderful object that I started out to make,” Leslie said. “Often times I feel that I have completely messed up just to pull a bead from the flame and love the new design. There is magic in the chaos”.

Currently, this is Leslie Walker’s favorite piece in her studio because it links her love of jewelry design and the beauty of the polymer clay focal bead.

One of her more recent sales consisted of some yellow and orange blended polymer clay flowers that were sold to a fellow Artfire artist, which were put on a guitar strap and sold within a week. “The flowers were beautiful and her addition to the guitar strap just gave them a stunning home. I am always humbled and honored when a fellow artist loves work I have done,” Leslie Walker said.

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Since her grandparents were the nucleus of her creativity, it is no wonder that she still reaches for inspiration from them although they are no longer with her. “I wish I could call my Gran and tell her about a new piece. She would have especially loved my owl necklace. She had a collection of owls,” said Leslie Walker.

Leslie took over two years to find the right beads to settle her little owl on and who would not love the whimsy in this tiny owl?

Charming and quizzical, the wide black beaded eyes seem to blink with curiosity as this fellow observes the observer. Wisdom and brass make up this jointed owl who will rest on your chest as he travels about the world with you. He is accented with pearlescent glass beads of earthtones reminiscent of the forest from which he was plucked. Feathers fly along the length of the necklace.

He is finished with a copper lobster clasp and is a princess length which perfectly perches him within view on either a high-neck sweater or a low slung scoop neck blouse. He is dressy enough for going out to dinner and casual enough for a play day with girlfriends.

Inspiration also comes from Leslie Walker’s children and large family. “My children inspire some of my greatest creations because they are so enthusiastic about life. Their giggles are infectious,” she said. Color is another inspiration for Leslie, even in the dry climate of Phoenix; there is color for her to draw upon. “We have some of the most beautiful sunsets”.

Leslie Walker’s art is greatly affected by living in the desert area outside of Phoenix in San Tan Valley, Arizona. She draws from the sunsets, mountains and the wild flowers, especially during the monsoon season when wild flowers pop up everywhere. This area of Arizona is also home to a large art community, which means that she is among residents who truly appreciate the time, effort and love that goes into a handmade piece of art.

Color is expressed in this lampwork glass bracelet featuring Leslie’s own lampwork beads.

“This beautiful Spring Flower bracelet is a show stopper! I have had many compliments at a recent craft fair. The flowers on this bracelet were handmade in my studio. There is not another bracelet quite like this one. I am very proud of this piece. I studied for hours and hours on how to do the lampwork flowers. These four flowers mark my very first successes with glass flame work”. Leslie Walker said.

As a regular attendee of the Arizona Ren Faire every year, she has had the opportunity to become enamored by the artisans who display their glass blowing techniques and wares. “I would love to do full on glass blowing. I am mesmerized any time I see artisans practicing this craft,” said Leslie Walker. In addition, she would love to learn to sew or quilt and has a lot of respect for those who are able to as her sewing machine appears to be possessed by the tangled up fairy.

When Leslie is not creating, she is reading, letting her imagination free to create in a completely different way and finds bookstores as wonderful as the smell of a new box of crayons. Her perfect day is creating and spending time with her family and her dog.

Leslie Walker is a member of two Artfire guilds.

Polymer Clay Smooshers

Checked In Today

She can be found at LeslieMariebyDesign on Artfire

Leslie Walker's Facebook Link

Leslie Walker's Twitter

A little bead she would love to find a loving home for can be seen here:

Leslie Walker does a little blogging on her Artfire blog and you can read about her escapade into HSN or her discussion regarding the color red for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild challenge by going to her Arfire blog.

Leslie Marie by Design is scheduled to attend the Fountain Hills Art Festival in Fountain Hills, Arizona from November 9-11 starting at 10:00 a.m. and going until 5:00 p.m. This is a juried artfair with over 500 artists participating. Fountain Hills is located outside of Scottsdale, Arizona. If you are in the area, take a moment to stop by and see Leslie and view her lovely jewelry and lampwork beads in person. 

For those who are unable to wait until November to purchase a piece from Leslie’s collection of artisan jewelry, her Artfire studio is open 24/7.  

9 comments:

  1. Great feature! I loved learning about Leslie, her support and inspiration. I only wish I were closer to AZ so I could visit her and see her works in person at the Fountain Hills Art Festival!

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  2. It's so interesting to get to know a fellow Guild member and Artisan in such depth. The necklace and earrings shown here are a favourite of mine too from this Studio.

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  3. What a great feature on a very talented artist! =)
    -Michelle of CreativeCritters

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  4. Oh wow... this actually brought tears to my eyes. You have no idea what this means to me! Thank you so much!

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  5. Congratulations! It was interesting to read about Leslie's creativity..... her designs are awesome!!! Love the Spring Flower bracelet:)

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  6. Leslie Walker's story has convinced me that the world without Artists would be a very dark place! Thank you, Leslie, for you contribution to lighting up the world.

    Thank you, Julie for your insightful story telling. Inspiration is overflowing in this place.

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  7. What an interesting and well written article! Leslie's work is so lovely, and it was great to find out about her creative journey, talent, and inspiration. Thanks and best wishes! Best wishes to Leslie too!

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  8. Wonderful, very interesting and inspiring interview of a very talented artist! It's always fascinating to get a "behind the scenes" look. Thank you for sharing Leslie's artistic story!

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  9. You are a very creative soul!!!! Keep it up girly

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