If you liked playing with clay when you were a kid — or wonder how fun it would be to do so now — then you’ll want to join local artist and sculptor Laura Elmore for her free workshops Sept. 14 & 21, 5-7 p.m.

Not only will you learn some basic techniques of working with high-fire clay, but you’ll also create a small sculpture and a scraffito tile that Laura will fire to use for a community piece at the library. Not sure what a ‘scraffito tile’ is? Laura will tell you and show you how to make one!

Instead of molding clay in her studio, though, she almost ended up sitting at a desk whipping legal contracts into shape.

Recently, she told us how she went from growing up in rural Kentucky, to attending law school, to becoming part of the art community in the Lehigh Valley and supporting her favorite causes with her creative talents…

Tell us about your background. When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
I grew up in rural Kentucky with working parents and kept myself occupied reading, painting and drawing. In middle school I was obsessed with drawing album covers and remember doing those for friends. I was exposed to many industrious people growing up — quilters, knitters, woodworkers — but I think everyone I knew at that time did their craft in their free time. I don’t think it occurred to me in my youth to have a profession in the arts. Despite growing up in the country, I probably had more exposure to fine art than most, though. I had a great aunt that was a docent for most of her life at The Whitney Museum, and I’m sure visits to New York City must have had some influence on my thinking.

What education did you pursue?
My first formal education was with a well-known artist Judy Apple from Georgetown, Kentucky. I started painting in watercolors, acrylics and oils with her once a week in the summers when I was 12. She would be a mentor to me well into my twenties, and I’m sure it was through her that I was encouraged to enter my first juried show.

I continued with art classes in high school, studying watercolors for a semester at the deCordova Museum of Art, and figure painting at the Academie de Port-Royal outside of Paris, France — but when I entered college at Mount Holyoke, I did so with the intention of preparing for law school. I studied bronze casting every semester, but majored in English because I loved to read. I don’t think I even questioned my path until I was sitting in a contract class in law school in New Hampshire dreaming of all the things I would rather be making.

Shortly after leaving law school, I returned  to Kentucky for three years where I had post-graduate studies in painting and paper-making and took a job teaching at the Living Arts & Science Center in Lexington. I went on to study printmaking at the Rhode Island School of Design. Afterwards, while art was still a part of my life, it took a back seat to many relocations, work, and family.

How did you end up living in the Lehigh Valley and taking up sculpture?
My family moved to the Lehigh Valley about nine years ago. Shortly after we settled in, I realized that I had not made art in over a year. Intimidated to pick up my brushes, I enrolled  in an introductory pottery class with Renzo Faggioli at the Baum School of Art and stayed for over five years. The Baum School was a great place to reinvigorate myself, learn another medium, meet friends and start to become a part of the Lehigh Valley art community. Clay has become my medium of choice because there is always something new to learn and I can draw on my education and experience in other mediums to use with the clay.

What’s your advice for anyone who wants to explore art, but can’t seem to find the time or feels intimidated by a blank canvas?
Many people want to create but are intimidated to do so or think that they don’t have the money or the time or the experience. A class is a great way to get over your fears, but if you don’t have the time or the money for a class, just start with a dream. Visit galleries and museums, pull up a YouYube video, check out a book from the library, seek out artists that are creating work you like, and start with what you have at your disposal — a pencil, a crayon, a stick with ink — but set time aside every day to create.

You often use your creative talents to support causes you care about. Tell us about your work with Habitat for Humanity.
I’ve been involved with them for many years. Last year I made whimsical Raku houses that were auctioned off to raise money to support their work. This year, Habitat is doing the first annual ‘Raise the Roof’ auction, and I will have another collection of houses in the auction. They will be on display at Laura’s Custom Framing and Fine Art in Emmaus from Sept. 12 through the end of the auction on Nov. 12 [1328 Chestnut Street; Tues, Wed. & Fri. 10-5:30; Thurs. 10-7; Sat. 10-4).  Go here for more information or to sign up for free online event.]

The exhibit at Laura’s gallery is also tied to a birthday celebration of the Lehigh Art Alliance’s oldest active member. Her name is Edie Roeder, and she turns 100 on October 4th. I hope to have an exhibit of her work at the Emmaus library early next year. She still pumps out an incredible amount of work!

Your sculpture workshops are the last of the ART@EPL series at the library, at least for this year. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Yes, we are blessed in this valley to have a wealth of artistic knowledge that is shared by individuals and organizations.

I’ve been actively involved with the Lehigh Art Alliance, which provides opportunities for professional and amateur artists to exhibit work in the Valley. This year, we received a grant from the Lehigh Valley Arts Council to install exhibit wires in the new children’s wing at the library and conduct workshops by local artists, which has been really exciting.

I loved working on this partnership with the library — not only because it gave us a chance to introduce some of our artists to the community and make art classes available to more people, but also because this grant gives artists a great place to exhibit their work for years to come!

Laura’s workshops are free and open to anyone 16 and up, but attendance is limited. Email Lauri or call 610-965-9284 to check availability, or come be on standby to fill in for last-minute cancellations.


ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.

The last remaining ART@EPL workshop, scheduled for September, is:
Sculpture with Laura Elmore.
Click the link for info or contact Lauri Miller for availability.