When I initially started researching into Papercutting, LBC Paper was one of the first places I began with. I knew the person behind these creations had to be fun and creative! Her name is Leah Copplestone and I was completely right about this when I connected with her. I knew her Q&A would be fun and resourceful but I did not begin to imagine how admirable her background story would be. She had found this art form through a hard time in her life. She was a star athlete and because of a severe injury, she then had to take a leave from school and field hockey. A lot of times, when we focus all our efforts into one passion and we hit tribulations, we sometimes think it is the end because we cannot see the reason for this and we did not think about ever doing anything else. However, this was not the case with Leah. She understood the struggle she was faced and still found a way to focus her creativity into positivity. She did this through placing the energy she still had in Papercutting and finding a community on her online store through Etsy. Not only is it admirable but it goes to show you that sometimes things do happen in life and you might have to go another angle but you will always come out for the better.
Name: Leah Copplestone
Location: Roanoke, VA.
What led you to this?
I went to the University of Mary Washington to play field hockey. By the end of my sophomore season at UMW I had developed an athletic overuse injury so advanced it was becoming difficult for me to walk. A couple months later it was necessary for me to put school on hold in order to save my limbs, which have indeed been saved, but the overuse injury (Compartment Syndrome) caused extreme nerve damage throughout both my legs and I now have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, which is a chronic neurological pain disease. As soon as my health stabilizes I will be transferring to Boston Architectural College. My Etsy shop (LBCpaper) is how I keep myself busy while finding a long-term treatment for CRPS.
How would you describe your style?
I like simple things, geometry, bright and strong colors. I like straight lines and squiggly lines, but straight ones are my favorite! Sometimes I get close to retro but most of the time it consists of anything geometric, but it is still dependent upon my mood.
Do you ever feel “artist’s block”, and if so how do you overcome it?
I get artist’s block all the time. When that happens I browse through my favorite Etsy shops looking for inspiration. I doodle all over everything with my colorful fine-point Sharpies. I make lists of ideas. In extreme cases I force myself to spend an entire day away from paper and Etsy so that I can refresh my mind and restart with completely new thoughts.
What makes you unique?
I am unique because I am in a really weird place in my life right now. The only reason I ever started playing with paper was that I was physically unable to do anything other than sit all day long (which was boring). There is no cure for the nerve disease I have so I’ve gone through a lot of different surgeries and treatments in the two years I’ve been away from school. Paper has kept me sane. Very quickly I went from running faster than the average cheetah to being unable to walk. My extra energy goes into paper. I love the creativity that is now a part of my life but I hope very much that one day I’ll be able to lay down the scissors and go for a run.
Who are some of your favorite artists and sites?
Favorite Etsy shops (long list but I visit all of these pretty much daily): JennSki, the merriweather council, artquirk, inaluxe, paintsquare, cottonmonster, lamarquisedesanges, EightSeasons, focuslineart, thebigharumph, lauraamiss, blancucha, littlehouses, ArtMind.
What sites do you contribute to?
I am a regular contributor for The Handmade Gift Guide, which is an amazing blog run by an amazing lady who has an amazing taste for handmade goods.
Any small ideas you can include to help others create something small and from the heart?
It will only be from the heart if you’re excited about it. If your excitement is your motivation you will love the outcome. It’s okay to make things for other reasons, like for work or school or for profit, but you’ll never love those items as much as you love the straight-from-excitement items. My most favorite pieces are things I make as a gift with a specific person in mind. You don’t need to know what the piece will look like in the end but if you know what you’re going to do with it all the pieces, it will fall into place.
Leah also include a few little extra goodies on how to try this for yourself!
How to Play Like Leah Copplestone:
Pick a simple and recognizable image. Raindrops, apple, fork, tree, house, arrow. Anything that can be recognized two-dimensionally. OR pick a shape. You can make up a shape. It can just be a blob. Pick your color scheme. Pick your background color. Take your image or shape and cut it out from several differently colored pieces of paper (I usually make a tracer out of a piece of scrap paper and just trace that many times). Arrange all your cut-outs into a pattern. It doesn’t have to be anything exact, things can just be placed randomly. For the piece above I randomly arranged forks, knives and spoons.
Creating a Simple Greeting Card:
This is how I make some of my favorite simple greeting cards: pick a piece of paper for the card itself. Cut it to measure 8” by 5.5”. Fold it in half so that you have a card measuring 4” wide by 5.5” tall (that’s my favorite size for a card). Pick out several pieces of paper that are all different colors. Cut a few strips from each piece of paper, maybe four or five. Make the strips long enough to cover the width of the cover of your card (so about 4”) and about ¼” wide, but you do not need to be exact and you don’t even have to cut in perfectly straight lines. Glue each strip horizontally to the cover of your card, leaving just a tiny bit of space between each one. Place the different colors randomly or in a pattern (I like placing them randomly). Use as little glue as possible. If your strips are longer than the width of the card you can snip the edges to fit. The outcome will be like this:
To see more of Leah’s Work:
The Handmade Gift Guide: http://www.thehandmadegiftguide.com/