inside the artist's studio: made by swirly girl

Who is Made by Swirly Girl?

Made by SwirlyGirl is the name of the business I started about 4 years ago after much prodding from my husband and friends to sell my cards instead of just giving them away. The name was created after my husband made a remark about the doodling I would do while I was on the telephone. I added the "made by" because there was an existing business with the name of Swirly Girl. If by "who is Made by SwirlyGirl?" you mean "who is Laurie LeBlanc-Rickaby?", that is a little bit longer and more complicated answer, but in a nutshell, I would have to say: I am a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, former professional ballet dancer, choreographer, and presently a ballet teacher, who feels closest to my higher power when I am expressing myself through creating.

made by swirly girl
What inspires you?

Color, texture, movement, music, lighting, nature, art in any form inspires me...I'm a very visual person and nearly all of my inspiration comes from something I see, but if it is coupled with music, there is nothing better than that! I've always had the need to create as far back as I can remember. As a small child, I painted sea shells and made pot holders and sold them door-to-door. At least I TRIED to sell them. (In all honesty, I think I sold 2 shells and one of them was to my father!) I've crocheted, knit, embroidered, sewed, needlepointed and cross stitched, learned some Native American beadwork, learned basket weaving, floral design, wreath making, faux finishes, covered photo albums and frames, made boxes and books, tried scrapbooking, jewelry making, quilting, and a few other arts and crafts. This is the first one that has kept my attention long enough to actually think about starting a business around it. (Actually, that isn't true. In the 80s, I did some consignment sales and a couple of craft shows with a couple of other things, but I did get bored with them fairly quickly!) What I love about making cards and photo art is that I can change it anytime I want to. I can create a new line, drop a line, change the direction of a line...I can't run out of things to photograph and there are so many things I can do with each photo that I feel I can keep this up indefinitely! (Plus, it satisfies my need for immediate gratification, being a quick process from photographing to packaging the finished card!)

made by swirly girl
When did you start designing cards?

The first cards that I designed were about 9 years ago, I think, when there wasn't much disposable income and I refused to spend $4 or $5 on a card to send someone that they were just going to throw out after a few days, most likely. I thought:"For $5, I can buy the supplies to make many cards and those that receive them will actually want to keep them, too!" They were made from torn and cut handmade papers on cardstock with some beads, buttons, or ephemera added for texture. I then began working with gorgeous fabric remnants that a close friend would give me. When I got my first digital camera and began to experiment with a couple of photo programs, another door opened for me and the world was suddenly a new and exciting place to discover! My first cards came out of a happy mistake that became the direction I have continued to expand, my Made-U-Look line. Some time later, I discovered other photo software programs and began developing my Kaleidoscope line, followed by En Pointe, Whirly Girl, and Plein Air, in that order.

Where did you get your training?

Training? That makes me smile...I've taught myself how to use my photo programs and camera and how to use my computer and the internet. Other than that, it's all just a big happy experiment. I'm moved to create; I create; I like it or I don't like it; I do it again and take what I learned with me into the next attempt;'s just about trusting myself and believing that if I like the way something has come out, there will probably be others who like it, too. But, even if there aren't, the process is not motivated by pleasing anyone besides myself when I create, anyway. The process is worthwhile just because I'm moved to begin it. If others like it, too, that is icing on the cake!

How does one acquire your cards?

At the moment I can be found at all of the following:



Theresa said...

That's a great post on Laurie, who is one of my favorite artists. I love that ballet dancer design - looks like an impressionist painting. Her professional ballet training is so interesting.

Made by SwirlyGirl said...

Kristina, thank you so much for featuring me on your blog! You have done a wonderful job putting it together and I am flattered and humbled to think that you thought of me as your subject this week. Theresa, thank you for your kind words.

Judy said...

Laurie looks so much at home there in her studio! I love her cards and am tickled to see her work space.

Made by SwirlyGirl said...

My "studio" is actually our bedroom! The photo was taken so that you can't tell that the table I am working at is sitting at the end of our bed! I had my own space up until last winter when it was time to give it up so that my daughters could each have their own room. I do miss it, though!

Mee a Bee said...

Great article Laurie! I love seeing you, your work space and all of your cool equipment! thanks Kristina for bringing us Made By Swirly Girl

Made by SwirlyGirl said...

Thanks, Jacqui! I appreciate your commenting!

Mary Anne Gruen said...

What a creative mind and eye! And a dancer too! Thank you both so much for sharing this with us!

ldeandyment said...

What a great interview. Thanks for the letting us into your studio. You are very creative and I've enjoyed seeing the work you've done over the past year. I'm still inspired to do a video after seeing yours.

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