Lisa Waring is a spun cotton artist. Lisa sells her work in her shop, Full Moon Wares on Etsy. She purchases cotton from us to make her gorgeous spun cotton sculptures and when we saw photos of her work we knew we had to share it with you!
Spun cotton is an art form that originated in19th century Germany. Early spun cotton pieces were typically holiday ornaments made by hand wrapping cotton batting around a wire frame and painting it. Later more refined objects and shapes were created with the use of a lathe and molds. At the turn of the 20th century the craft gained popularity in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Japan. Today these charming antique ornaments and figures are a very rare, and sought after collectable.
So, Lisa, tell us your spun cotton life story. How did you get started with this craft?
I think for me it makes sense that I was drawn to this craft. I have always loved miniatures and old things and that probably started as a kid going to flea markets with my grandma. We had a place called “The Bazaar (of all Nations)” in Philadelphia, which was basically a large indoor flea market and collection of shops that sold anything from tobacco to Tiffany Lamps. This place was downright magical, also super weird, and I loved it! The entrance was flanked with two GIANT (to me at the time anyway, I was a small child but I’d love to see them now) suits of armor so that was already impressive. There was one shop that specialized in Christmas décor which is probably where I saw my first piece of spun cotton, an old German made ornament. I had no idea what it was, I just knew that I liked it! I never stopped liking them and eventually decided to try to make my own given that the antiques are so rare and quite expensive.
My first attempts were pretty comical because I didn’t know how to go about it, I was unrolling cotton balls and cutting paper towels into strips to make reindeer! There’s not much “how to” info about the craft out there so it was a lot or trial and (mostly) error, and researching materials. I’m still working on techniques and learning today!
Do you partake in any other fiber arts?
I have dabbled in embroidery, knitting, crochet, and needle felting, but not nearly as deeply as I’d like to. Crochet is of particular interest to me, as my great grandmother was a master at it! She made fine pieces of lace that were so intricate she must have used nearly microscopic hooks to create them. They are pretty mind blowing. I am lucky enough to have inherited a few of these treasured family heirlooms, a table cloth, a lace collar, and some glass Christmas balls that she crocheted around (my favorite!). Most of her work was lost in a house fire, so I kind of feel like it’s my duty to learn this art form and attempt to recreate some of what was lost.
What is your favorite subject material to create in cotton?
Animals! Any, and all animals. Also fruit and vegetables, as I am also a (vegan) chef.
Obviously you’re an expert, but do you think spun cotton can be accessible to beginners?
Yes! This is why I created the carrot kit and tutorial that I now sell on my Etsy page, I want to show people that it can be done and give them a better start than I had unrolling cotton balls! Nowadays, so much of everything is manufactured junk, and that scares me! Handcrafts are so important, not only are they beautiful beyond compare to look at, but the act of creating them can be almost meditative and certainly gratifying. Slowing down and creating something by hand is a lesson in respect, and appreciation; connecting you to the materials and what the process of creation can offer, as well as providing opportunity to connect with community.
Thanks so much for taking the time to share your beautiful work with us, Lisa! We hope you're all inspired to try out spun cotton for yourselves. Lisa even recently demonstrated her Spun Cotton Carrot Kit on Instagram Live so you can watch her in action. We can't wait to see future spun cotton creations!
Find Lisa Waring and Full Moon Wares here: