stories about stuff

Tools & Talsimans #81 — Laura Stoddart

Years ago I was given a book called Up the Garden Path by Laura Stoddart, and I can honestly say it changed the direction my life was going in. At the time, I was working full-time as an in-house designer with a gift publisher and had drifted away from my brushes and my pencils and creating off of a screen.

Something about her style, something about her whimsy, her point of view and her focus and attention to the details totally captured my attention. As I paged through the book, I was remembering the feel of a brush in my hand, and how the paint moves with and against the bristles and how a pencil feels as it scratches across the surface of paper, and how much at home they make me feel. And so with a quick trip to the art store I was sketching again. Awkwardly, but I was sketching, and haven't stopped. Here's Laura:

My objects are my tools rather than talismans. Even though I love that sort of connection to an object and I collect many things I don’t carry them with me or invest more in them at this point in my life.

My tools are my box of watercolours given to me by my Mother, who is also an illustrator, for my 21st Birthday. It is Windsor and Newton and I never clean it, the colour underneath add to the new colours mixed on top; although red has always been in the same spot. My brushes are a mixed bag, not especially expensive but always better when old and down to fewer hairs. This is also why I use a rotering pencil because the leads can be really fine and draw as small as I need them to. My rubbers (erasers) always end up in tiny pieces from being cut down to form clean sharp edges, I always have a few at the bottom of my handbag.

My watch was given to me by my Father for my 40th Birthday; it still feels very grown up. My glasses are a new addition and I keep forgetting to wear them. Cologne no.4711 is the perfect smell and I love the pocket-sized bottle. It makes me want to draw all these things too!

Laura Stoddart, illustrator


Tools & Talismans is a personal painting project where I document {in watercolor} the tools and talismans of 100 different women — creators and healers, thinkers and makers, wordsmiths and visionaries. Join me — I'll be sharing a new painting with you every Wednesday.

Would you like to have your very own Tools & Talismans painting to inspire, support and remind you of all the things that make you “you”, as you go about your days, grow your business and create your life? Get in touch so we can talk, I'd love to hear from you!

Tools & Talismans #80 — Katie Hess

Pecha: Made of golden silk brocade, my pecha holds my Tibetan meditation texts, wrapped tightly inside with an orange ribbon. Every morning I sit down to do my meditation practice, which include visualizations, mantras, prayers and silent meditation. In Tibetan Buddhism, in order to do these types of practices, one must get a lung (oral transmission) and wang (empowerment), so each of the practices I do remind me of certain teachers I hold really dear and precious. In the last fifteen years, my meditation practice has been my refuge - the place I go when my mind is wild and crazy, where I face myself, wake myself up, unearth new insights and re-connect to an ancient wisdom.

Mala: My mala was strung together and given to me by my teacher with gorgeous chunks of turquoise. It recently broke, so I just strung it back together myself — the long strings are waiting for another bead to be placed inside the shell, perhaps a ruby. Malas are used to count mantras, so it keeps me on track during my meditation practice.

Jade: The carved jade bead was also given to me by my teacher — it was hand-carved centuries ago in China by someone very special to me. I hold this in my other hand when I am doing my meditation.

Incense: My favorite incense is made out of Piñon sap, which is divine. . . the scent is so lovely and sacred and it’s wonderful for making smoke offerings. Piñon is one of those botanicals that seems to be from another realm; it slows everything down in your body and helps you be more aware.

Peony: A fresh flower, which represents the magic of flowers that I am constantly tapping into and infusing into elixirs and other remedies to help us all remember and realize our full potential.

Inspired Action: One of my favorite flower elixir remedies made by our company, it is a blend of flower elixirs like Fire Star Orchid and Red Bird of Paradise that help me stay on a creative edge, be super productive and think outside the box. It also has aromatherapy with oils like cardamom, bay rum, lime and my favorite: pink pepper oil. I keep it on my desk and mist it around myself constantly throughout the day to sharpen my focus, because life is short!

Felt Notebook: I love having a small notebook for jotting down brilliant ideas on the go. If I’m in a creative mode, I prefer to write by hand with markers. My current notebook has a soft felt cover and is made by hand by a local artist in Phoenix, AZ.

Markers: Instead of writing with pens and pencils, I prefer to write with markers. I feel like it opens up and loosens my mind, so bigger ideas can come in — and out. My favorite markers are made by Pentel — 36 luscious colors!

Phone: I hesitated to include my phone, because they can be such a source of distraction and busyness, but it’s one of my most important business tools. I can take beautiful photos of flowers, post on social media, share files, manage teams and projects, and video chat with partners internationally. Technology is amazing, and I’ve used it to expand my positive impact in the world. To inspire a little self-awareness during my busy bee phone time, every few weeks I upload a new digital floral wallpaper from the collection that we make and give away. It has a gorgeous color, flower and insightful saying on it that I see each time I turn on my phone. 

Katie Hess, Flower Alchemist & Founder of LOTUSWEI