When Laura Martin’s 10-year-old grandson Rivers asked her what homeless people in Atlanta do when it’s really cold, their conversation led to a month-long project where together they designed and made blankets from her Buckhead home craft room. Together they built a better blanket based on dialogue with Outreach and Advocacy Center of Atlanta. They put their heads together to come up with a waterproof, warm, light and easy-to-tote blanket made from fleece and a vinyl tablecloth, tied into a bag that doubled as a hoodie. The kids found sponsors, tucked in a $5 McDonald’s gift card and delivered their creations to the OAC for distribution.
All sorts of magic happens in Laura’s studio, built above the garage of her Peachtree Hills home, where her garden provides a backdrop and inspiration. “I love my house and love my garden but I am shout-out-loud-Halleluja and down-on-my-knees grateful for my studio,” says Laura. “ I have been an artist/writer all my life but it wasn’t until I married my husband, Jack Burch, and moved into his home in Buckhead 15 years ago, that I had a designated space for my art and crafts.”
Having a separate space to make art has made a huge difference for the philanthropic entrepreneur. She can leave her tools and material out, picking up her projects whenever she can get back to the studio.
Nine years ago she founded Ties That Matter, teaching Haitian women how to sew and make bags and dolls out of recycled neckties. “At one point I had 10,000 neckties in my studio. I shuttered Ties That Matter two years ago to focus on my own art, music and grandchildren.”
She doesn’t confine her creativity to any one medium. “I was loaned a weaving loom two years ago and have fallen in love with weaving so I always have something on the loom. I am also a natural history artist, illustrator and writer so I generally have some sort of project going on for children. The last big project I volunteered for was to write and draw a Wildflower Coloring book for children. I am primarily a textile artist, though, so I’m always dyeing cloth and yarn, sewing and quilting.”
Two of her grandchildren come to the studio twice a week for art lessons. “Lucky me!” says Laura. She also gave her time and talent to pen a tribute to the neighborhood duck pond, “Nature Guide to the Duck Pond.”
She is constantly exploring new crafts. This month, she’s experimenting with bojagi, Korean quilting and piecework with a unique style and rich history. “The piece I’m working on is all brightly colored silks. I am actually writing a book on this subject.”
She and her husband, Jack, are Atlanta natives and live with their dog, Sadie.
“A creative space is not necessarily one for contemplation or quiet meditation. A space like this should be energized, so you can let ideas bounce off the walls and give life to plans and schemes. Joseph Conrad said that ‘all creative art is magic’ and I couldn’t agree more. But it is ultimately easier for this magic to happen if you have a great space in which to do it.”