The Magical Craft of Collage

In the art world, it can be a challenge to strike a fine balance between expressing warmth without being saccha¬rine, or love without seeming schmaltzy. Laurie Craft, 54, not only pulls it off, but excels at it through her multihued collages, which convey her affection for her family and friends. Perhaps it’s because she isn’t trying to send a message and doesn’t consider herself to be an artist that her pieces have such a joyous effect on the viewer. “I’ve never thought of myself as an artist,” says Craft, who lives in Colville with her husband and three sons (five other children are grown and on their own). “I just do it because it relaxes me, and because I like to do it for the people in my life.” Magazine clippings, flowers, discarded bits of cloth, and even candy wrappers find their way into Craft’s pictures, whether it’s a collage of a beautiful girl that looks like she belongs in a children’s book illustration, or a profile Craft constructed of one of her sons out of tiny photos of hats (“He’s a hat man,” she says. “He always looks stylish.”). “I’ve always tried to instill in my children an appreciation for the beauty of God’s creation,” says Craft. “When they were little, we would do projects like leaf rubbings and collecting interesting rocks, twigs and bits of this and that we would find on walks together. I think it’s important that they see the beauty around them.”Don’t hold back A small table in she and her husband’s bedroom serves as her studio, where she formulates her designs and visions. In the portrait of her son, she used an old sewing pattern for a background, crinkling the thin paper into a ball before smoothing it back out and painting it. It’s this resourcefulness to use whatever materials she has on hand that gives her art an inimitability all it’s own. “I was always into projects, even as a child,” Craft recalls. “I remember as a pre-teen I wall-papered my entire bedroom with collage. It was never anything where people would say, “Wow, you are so artistic!” I was just always making messes!” Others might disagree when looking at Craft’s work, some of which is available for purchase at The Loft in Colville in the form of nominally priced prints (ranging around $9 to $10). If people feel inspired by her artwork, she encourages them to run with the reaction. “I would encourage people not to hold back, enjoy it for what it is,” says Craft. “If you’ve got kids, take them outside, have fun, be moved by what you see.” To see more of Craft’s work, stop in at 130 S. Main Street in Colville from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.