Laura Fortune


All the Lights

Art, Roadtrip, U.S. TravelLaura FortuneComment

August 6

This morning I woke up in a Wal-Mart parking lot for my last time on this trip. 



Today I drove to Las Vegas.

I’ve never had much of a desire to experience Vegas, but there has always been one spot I have been interested to see. 

I reserved myself a ticket to the Neon Museum.  It is an outdoor museum that houses old hand-painted and handmade neon signs from the old Las Vegas stripe.  It was everything I imagined.   

Seeing all of these national parks and natural beauty has been epic and inspiring, but as my inspiration for my artwork, I am drawn to grime and grit of man-made objects.  To color and humor and shapes and decay, and boy, did this place have it. 

I chose a guided tour that had the sun setting mid-tour, and it was perfect to see the signs in the daylight, twilight, and dark, as the lights came on the signs.



By 8:30pm, I had done all that I wanted to do in Vegas, so it left the evening open to however it rolled out.  I wanted to find some old dives and crusty ladies glued to the slot machines and some kitschy Americana and a nasty buffet.  I can say I made the most of it.  I found a BINGO hall and a rooftop view.  The crusty old ladies and kitsch Americana were part of simply existing in Vegas.     


The Stop and Go

Art, Roadtrip, Studio, U.S. TravelLaura Fortune1 Comment

I lazily left Glacier and headed toward Helena.  These areas of Montana reminded me of the long stretches of road in Texas.  80 MPH and no one around.  The little towns are filled with western kitsch and saloons and small museums showcasing dinosaur fossils and western lore.  I badly wanted to stop and document this type of Americana, but I am starting to feel myself stopping a little too much, and this drags out my time on the road.

But as I passed this particular field, stopping for a long stretch was absolutely forgiven.


I continued on to go and visit an old and dear college friend from my early days at Alfred University.  She is an artist-in-resident at Archie Bray Foundation, a ceramic art residency in Helena.  She was one of my first friends in college.  She, a funny and honest Puerto Rican/Dominican girl from Queens, New York who took on a friendship with me, a sheltered duck-out-of-water girl from Tallahassee, Florida.  It was a strange and perfect match. 

Our six hours visit felt like we could have used three more days to talk and talk and laugh and laugh.  But it was a special trip to find her in Montana and to be able to see what she is working on at the residency and with life.

Detail of a piece by April Felipe

Detail of a piece by April Felipe


Art, Jewelry, Craft ShowLaura Fortune1 Comment

July 23

This is it!  Last day of my summer tour!

It was one of my best days.  I met some wonderful people and it was an excellent experience.  I heard affirmations from so many and the main consensus was:

“I have never seen anything like this.”…it was a positive reaction.

It’s flattering and seems on topic.  Sometimes I feel different, but I get along with a lot of different people for that reason.   

That show was a great ending to a series of learning curves, such as learning there is a Labrador Bassett Hound mix.  I have never seen such a dog with the distinct characteristics of the breed split in half. 


Art, Craft Show, Jewelry, FamilyLaura FortuneComment


July 22

I showed up to Hangar 30 of Magnusen Park in Seattle pretty early.  I have found going about this alone, I am generally one of the first vendors there and last to leave.  My set-up and break down just take me longer than seasoned show vendors.

I enjoyed the community of friends I had made throughout each show.  Other people had signed-up to do all of these shows and we began to recognize each other each weekend and have a certain camaraderie.  

And then I overheard someone describe this life as being a 'Carnie' and I was stopped dead in my tracks. Dreams do come true!


That evening I returned to my cousins house and he gave me a tour of the new home they would be moving to the following day.  I understand big moves and choices, and I’m happy for them. 

San Francisco Show

Art, Jewelry, Craft ShowLaura FortuneComment

July 15

I left Sacramento a little after 5am and drove over to San Francisco for the Renegade Show that would be at Fort Mason that weekend.  I felt more relaxed, as I had the LA show under my belt.  I set-up and the day began.  It was incredibly busy with people and one of my favorite people I met at that show was a man who came by on both days to visit me.  We spoke of his time as an Original Hippie from the Summer of Love, and he asked details about my travels and living in Portugal.  He decided we missed out since I wasn’t around for the Summer of Love, but I had him model the Tie-Dye T-Shirt Pin, and he left me with a big smile. 

How did the show go?  Everyone asks that question.  I have certain people that stop by and I have great conversations with them, and those feel like highlights to me.

July 2nd and Day Two

Studio, Family, ArtLaura FortuneComment

I woke up at my Uncle and Aunt's house.  They are some of the most incredible people I know.  Crazy smart and super fun.  Basically the best combination.  They love to sail on their sailboat, bird watch, create beautifully crafted woodwork, cook amazing pizzas, and spend time with their friends and family.  Plus they have a parakeet that has an extensive vocabulary and says things like, "Wanna Kiss?  Wanna drink? Wanna coffee? Wanna take a picture? I'm so cute."

I asked my Uncle if he would help me build my display for the shows and to travel with.  He obliged and we got to work.  

It was a special experience to work with him in his woodshop.  He has built boats and architecturally complicated woodwork for multi-million dollar homes.  He is a wealth of knowledge and similarly shared stories with me of following my grandfather around (his dad) and learning woodworking and building from him.  I loved this time to spend with him and his generosity to help me out on my journey.  There's just something about being with family.




Art, Jewelry, StudioLaura FortuneComment

Working at Studio 209 was perfect for me.  I worked really hard and manage to make it up to Thomasville to be in that studio 28 out of the 30 days in June.  I squeezed as much work as I could out of that time, working 10-12 hours days for the majority.  It was also a time were I was faced with a lot of questions about how I would navigate the trip to the west coast.  Would driving my old Jeep be possible?  Should I just fly out?  Do I have enough inventory to appear at four shows?   How should my display look and how can I transport it best?

These answers eventually floated to the surface, and I made decisions.  

My daily drive

My daily drive

Down South, and kinda like it.

Art, Family, Jewelry, Life Learning, Moving, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I returned to the US in a whirlwind.  A visit with a friend in New York City outside of JFK airport, a quick stay with an old friend in Jacksonville, Florida, a sweet wedding in Asheville, North Carolina, a visit to my sister in a cabin in Elijay, Georgia....and that was the first 5 days back.

And after all of that, I needed to boogie down to Florida to set-up a studio and get to work.  I decided that in July, I would travel the west coast to participate in a series of Renegade Craft Shows, so I needed to stock up.  A series of events led me to Studio 209 in Thomasville, Georgia.

It's a perfect place for me, and this is a total surprise.  I'm growing fonder of being in an area I never thought I would return to.  I love my family and friends here, and the idea would come to my mind over the years, but then I would go for a visit and as fast as the idea came to me, it flew out the window and I retreated back to Brooklyn and back to the drawing board.  

The opportunity to have extended traveling time has changed me.  I don't feel trapped by places, because I can see that I can go away, experience new people and places, and return and quiet back down, work in my studio.  That is the life I want.  A studio life/travel life/gardening life/old truck with a dog life.  

And someday I will have that.  But in less than a month, I will pack up my 1999 Jeep Cherokee and drive west for a whole new adventure. 

PANDO People

Moving, Art, Portugal, Studio, Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

So here I am presently, living in Lisbon, Portugal.  The women I met back in October, that set such an impression in my mind, are exactly the kind, smart, funny, talented and real type of people that I suspected I had found.  The type of group that made me want to pack up my life and move to another country.  They make up the studio called PANDO, and now I am a part of it as well...

The women of PANDO have welcomed me with wide-open arms and I couldn’t imagine experiencing moving to Portugal without having this little community. 

I have found sisters.

I lived in NYC for over 13 years and moving there out of college, I had never lived anywhere else as an adult.  I had a wonderful full-time job and good friends, but for a few years I was on a rollercoaster ride in my mind, of when to leave and where to go.  New York City isn’t an easy place to be, but cutting the cord and leaving it is a hard decision, too.

Check out Joan Didion's 1967 essay, "Goodbye To All of That"  A timeless and relevant piece on the topic of leaving NYC.

I wanted to step-out on my own as an artist and designer, and finding an inspiring location, an energetic and welcoming artist community and low-cost of living, was a difficult criteria for me to pinpoint in America.  I just didn’t feel strong enough about any place.  And then I found Lisbon, but more over, I found PANDO.

My idea was to come here for the trial period of what an EU tourist visa would allow, to see how it felt to be in the Portuguese culture, around the language and get to know people, to work in an art studio here and to attempt a life as an expat.  I wanted to do some traveling on the side to feel that solo-travel inspiration again. 

Fortunately and amazingly it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life with no end in sight.

Let's Rewind (to October 2016)

Moving, Art, International Travel, Life Learning, Portugal, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I had always wanted to travel more.  I think at some points of my life I thought I would have someone to travel with, so I waited.  And waited.

One weekend in June 2016, two of my best friends became engaged, and I saw wedding RSVPs on the horizon.  I had waited long enough and it was time for me to book the ticket.

I was to spend 18 days traveling around Spain by myself.  My first true vacation that was over two weeks long, and my first time truly traveling alone internationally.

I began spreading the news, “I am going to Spain in October!” and soon I recognized a pattern.  The response I received over and over, “oh cool, you should also go to Portugal.”  I was all, No, I said I am going to Spain.

Eventually I planned a trip where I would split my time between Spain and Portugal. That trip for me felt like a rebirth.  I had found a pleasure that I have never known and it was solo travel.  Lisbon was my final destination, and the feeling was immediate for me upon arrival.  The tiled and painted buildings, the parks, the stone sidewalks, the lookouts, the river, the light, and I had a sinking feeling.  Like a love feeling.  I haven’t been in love in a long time, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was finding something I wanted to be a part of….and then I met a group of Portuguese women in a light-filled beautiful cooperative art studio in a little alcove on a dead-end street, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their world, too.  I teared up on my walk home from those initial sweet conversations of how they felt about making artwork and traveling and encouragement of living in other countries for a time.  I had never wanted to be somewhere more.


On October 21, four days after returning from this trip, I bought a one-way ticket from NYC to Lisbon.


On October 27, I told my employer of over a decade that I wouldn’t be returning in 2017.


In December I sold or donated everything I had collected in NYC for the past 13 years.


On January 1, 2017 I drove out of NY, with everything I owned in the back of my Jeep.


That was a Craft Show!

Jewelry, Craft Show, ArtLaura FortuneComment

This past weekend I participated in my first Renegade Craft Show.  The Renegade has been having shows for over a decade and they travel all over the country and now internationally.  It provides an event and space for artists to present and sell their handmade goods directly to the customer.  It was the NYC Holiday Market, which is the best show of the year to participate in, from what I heard.

So many others vendors and attendees ask, "how is the show going for you?"  I generally said, "I think it's good, I don't know, I don't have any reference because it's my first time participating."  What I did know was that I worked my ass off leading up to the show and I was just glad to have pulled it all together to make it to the show and present my work in an orderly fashion.  

I love what I do.  I love working with my hands and I love designing and problem solving and I love color and humor and I get to throw all of those things into a bunch of stuff I make on my own.  I understand it is hard to understand the process that enameling entails and what it means when I say, I make everything, when there is so much to look at.  One man stood out in my mind and he was an older gentleman with a Plenty of Fish t-shirt on, clearly a fan of Broadway.  He understood the processes of metal fabrication and enameling and he stood over my table asking a few questions and after he received the answers he needed he looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "well I can see this is ALL you do.  I actually like to do things, like go see Hamilton."  I laughed heartily because he was totally right.  I didn't have much of a life or spare time while working on this show.  Even if the process of my work isn't understood, I saw people's faces light up when they saw my table and that was a great feeling.  After the events of this week, my heart was deflated and I considered that people might not be up for attending a craft show or in the mood for seeing a bunch of silly colorful work, but they were still there and I think it was a great event for people to come together.  The smiles that came from the discovery of an enameled Cheeseburger Box were pretty fabulous, too.  

So "how was the show for you?"  

"I think I'm on the right track and it was pretty awesome.  Thanks for asking."



Jewelry, Art, Life Learning, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I finished a piece that I had been working on on-and-off over the summer.  The pendant is about the size of a mobile device, on a long chain.  It's interactive as the thumb pushes right and left and a trash can pops out on each side.  I'm not going to go into how I have researched this idea (dating in NYC and online), although, this blog might be more interesting if it turns in that direction...hmmmm, I digress.  

I've retired from online dating, after a particularly bad date, much like I stopped babysitting when I was 16 after an awful episode that ended with itching powder being poured down my shirt.  The type of moment you throw your hands in the air like George Costanza and yell, "THAT'S IT!  I'VE HAD ENOUGH!"   

I have had quite a bit of experience in the matter, and I found that with online dating and dating in general, I am either dumping someone or getting dumped.  Not in a heart-wrenching way, in a "you just aren't for me/I'm not that into you/ghosting" way.  But there still was a lot of trial and error and a lot of trash cans.  So swipe left, swipe right, it's all about dumping.  I'm into it, the trash cans, not the online dating.    


Labor Day, I'd say so

Illustration, Art, StudioLaura FortuneComment

Wow.  I've been working on building this website during my extended Labor Day weekend, and I've gotta say, I will be excited when I can step away from this computer!  Hurricane Hermine made it easier for me to avoid the beach, as they were mostly closed for the weekend.  So my studio turned into a photoshooting, photoshopping, modeling, editing wonderland...and by wonderland, I mean, slumped over my computer wondering if I'm doing this right.

Whelp, here it is.

The beginnings of a logo

The beginnings of a logo