Laura Ambrosio is a fiber artist from California creating textured punch needle hoops and wall hangings. She was one of the earlier punch needle artists I became aware of through Instagram, and I have loved seeing her work evolve over the past years.
One of the things I have always admired about Laura is her ability to balance the creative and the personal. She talks about balancing motherhood and creativity in her posts, and her adorable daughter is often featured in her feed. She has a podcast where she shares her own stories along with conversations with other inspiring makers. Following along with her work is an invitation into her journey as an artist, a mother, and the continued evolution of her creativity. Learning more about her work a real treat — read on for more about Laura’s background, process and inspiration!
Tell us a little bit about your creative background. How did you come to do the work you do today?
I have always been creative. When I was young I loved drawing and I also loved building. I would build intricate forts. Creativity has been a huge part of my life. I always knew that creating was my passion, but I did not think that I could actually make it into a living. My mom tells stories of my love for texture even at a young age. One time when I was four I think, I was at a birthday party and I was following around my poor neighbor trying to feel his hairy legs. I have tried making necklaces, printed framed work, sewing, painting, sculpting, but none of it resonated like fiber art / punch needle.
How did you get started with Punch Needle? What about this technique appealed to you?
I found a punch needle in 2017, I saw it and asked for it for Christmas. However, I didn’t touch the needle until I was pregnant with my daughter Luna, and I was laying around with morning sickness needing something to do. I made one small hoop and became obsessed. It was so simple and allowed me to express my creativity without being too “perfect”. With painting and sketching I was so self-critical but with a punch needle I felt free to create whatever I wanted. It also was so easy to pick up and put down once Luna was born.
We'd love to hear about your creative process. How do you come up with new ideas? What are your sources of inspiration?
Nature is definitely a huge inspiration for me. I do my best to go on one hike at least once a week. I also take walks with my daughter and she usually points out things I would usually ignore. Surprisingly, my designs often will come to me while driving, I hesitate to say a vision because that sounds dramatic to me, but honestly that’s what I would compare it to. When that happens I get home and I will grab my Ipad and quickly draw what I saw. Sometimes it is less spontaneous, I have a color pallete I want to use, and I will draw until I am happy with the result.
How has your work evolved over time?
My first pieces were messier than my current work. I was still learning a lot, but just as ambitious. I look back on those pieces with fondness because I learned so much. Now that I feel more comfortable with the basics and have learned from my many mistakes I am spreading my wings and incorporating new ways of manipulating the fiber. I am weaving, sewing, using embroidery techniques,and latch hook in addition to the punch needle.
What is your favorite part about the work that you do?
I love getting lost in my work. Just letting my creativity run free. But I have found that commissions help stretch me and my creativity. When I am given inspirational images to create a design I am forced to think outside of the box. How can I combine these elements and colors to create a cohesive and beautiful tapestry. I love figuring out how to use fiber to create a petal or a leaf in a way that is abstract but still readable. I also love learning how to use different colors together. It is a constant refining process for my eyes.
What do you hope others see / take away from your work?
I hope that I inspire others to go after what they love and chase their dreams. May that be as an artist or whatever brings them joy in life. Creativity and fiber art brings me joy, I want everyone to find that for themselves and do that. Life is too short to live it for someone else or just for a paycheck. I have found if you are in alignment with your gifts and talents your passion exudes from what you do and you are almost intoxicating. Do what you love. I also hope my art brings the viewer joy and peace.
Do you have a favorite piece, or one that has a lot of meaning to you?
I don’t have a favorite. But I love looking back at each collection because it reminds me of that time in my life. It is a snapshot for me. It brings me back to the feelings and emotions I had at that time. The first collection is one of huge change because I just had my daughter. The second collection is me diving deeper and starting to find my creative voice. The third collection is me letting go and allowing myself and my creativity free reign. I look forward to creating my next collection in April!
What punch needle materials and tools do you use? Do you have any favorite supplier recommendations for tools, material or yarn?
I use a variety of products. But the tool I would recommend for anyone is the Oxford Punch Needle. It will make your life easier when punching because it sits so well in your hand and punches with fluidity. But I also believe that you do not have to spend a lot to create beautiful art. I started off with simple supplies and as I have grown and developed my style I have begun spending more money on my tools. I have a whole FAQ page that shares all the supplies I use, https://www.lauraambrosioart.com/post/faq-all-the-supplies-i-use
What advice do you have for other artists or creatives looking to try punch needle?
Be patient. It is an easy craft, but it does take time to become proficient. Follow accounts like @punchneedle.world that help give you tips and information about how to punch. If you are really wanting to take your work a step further, purchase books about the process. Rose Pearlman and Amy Oxford both have books that give you amazing information about punch needle.
Where do you see your work going in the future?
I want to create work with more depth. I recently purchased an industrial tufting gun which allows me to create pile heights up to 2.75” and I really look forward to working with it. I will continue to punch by hand as well, but it is going to be so much fun integrating the two to create larger pieces.
How can the punch needle community support you and your work?
I think the biggest thing is to share my work and follow me. I am putting my commissions on hold after March to work on some passion projects and to let my creativity flow without deadlines. But sharing my work with friends is so helpful. The more eyes on my work the more I can create.
What is something that you are excited or curious about these days?
I love learning new ways to work with fiber. It is fun for me to explore new techniques and make a cohesive piece. I am always striving to push myself and continue to learn.
What are 3 other fun facts about yourself that you would like to share with the Punch Needle Community?
I am pregnant with my second child and I am so excited to bring this little nugget into the world.
I love to travel, I spent 2 years traveling alone after graduating college and I highly recommend it (it’s actually how I met my husband). I look forward to traveling again once COVID has calmed down.
I am learning Portuguese so I can speak with my husband's family. He is from Brazil and last time we visited he was my translator, I want Luna and I to be fluent.