Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Artists Answer: LeAnn Weih

For this week's Artist Answer, I begged Ms. LeAnn Weih to talk a little about the inspiration behind her gorgeous clay pieces.
She's one of the first clay artists that I started following and her work is still some of the most gorgeous I've ever seen.
I hope you enjoy learning  a little more about her creative process!

What inspires you?

This is a tough question! People have often described my designs as nature inspired and I suppose if I look at my beads, pendants and metal work, there is often an element of the environment in them. I think this must be part of my subconscious thought process as I rarely start out thinking about that type of image.

I especially love textile designs from Asia and India and frequently use these sources as a spring board for creating a new design. I’ve also got a fondness for Victorian architecture and William Morris textile patterns. And just as often my designs start from a visual memory. Rarely, does the final product look anything like the starting point and often a textile design will get combined with a visual memory.

But mostly, I am inspired by the life around me and simple childhood memories, like my grandmother’s sewing room, dandelions, and butterflies.

Do you sketch?

Sketching is a far too grand term for what I do before I start a design. But I do draw (doodle) as a starting point for most of my designs. It’s easier to show you an example of how I work than describe it.

One of the butterfly pendants I make started out by abstracting different elements from a book I have of Japanese kimono fabrics. It started out with layering different pieces of the pattern on paper and then I added and subtracted parts until I liked it. This is the first rendition of the design elements.

I started this in January and set it aside. By the time I’d finished, it was spring. I was starting to think about those small white butterflies that hover over my spring garden. I took out all but one of the butterflies and three of the pinks because that seemed to capture my memory of those common garden butterflies. This is what the first pressings from my mold looked like.

One of the things I enjoy about working this way is that the design evolves. Many times the design takes several weeks, even months before I see the finished product.

How do you find inspiration ?

There are many times when I find my well of inspiration completely dry. I find that if I do something routine, even monotonous, it empties my mind enough to get ideas flowing again. I’ve always been something of a day dreamer and routine tasks are a great day dream stimulator. For me anyway, the important thing is to just get my hands busy. Then when an idea happens I put the routine tasks away for a bit and start drawing. Of course this can be a problem if the routine task happens to be something like laundry or house work. I find it way too easy to day dream when I am cleaning.

Can you give us an example of a piece of work that was inspired by day dreaming?

Last year I was sorting through some of my grown up sons things, getting them ready to pack away until he was ready to take them to his own home. I started thinking about when he was a toddler and the time we lived on a rural property. We had barn owls that lived in an old machine shed. One of the things my son and I would do together is go out on the porch in the early evening and wait for the owls to come out and hunt. Barn owls are quite magnificent birds of prey, very large and very powerful. My owl beads look nothing like a barn owl and I’m pretty certain that you will not find an owl of any sort with a blue or aqua tummy. But the inspiration for my owl beads came from the memory of pleasant summer evenings watching those beautiful birds swoop for their dinner.

I hope you enjoyed seeing a little more behind the scenes of LeAnn's work.
Thanks so much LeAnn for sharing!  If you want to keep following LeAnn, here are the links to find where she is...
Bead shop:   
(You should go check out the cute little hearts she has in there for Valentine's Day!)


  1. Oh, thank you for that! I love LeAnn's work and have some of it for my very own. I need to start creating something worthy of her beads. Thanks for that peek into her inspiration!
    Enjoy the day!

  2. Ohhh, I have seen that gorgeous little owl I know where he comes from! I really enjoyed reading about Leann's creative process. Her work is stunning! And we share a love of William Morris too ;-)