Collector of threads and patterns, Lisa Turpin transforms them into art

Lisa Turpin approaches everything she does with passion. She is the passionate director of operations for the Arkansas Public Theater in Rogers, a job that began with her volunteering for the community theater troupe eight years ago. She is a passionate “drama mom” for young people who come through APT, proud to offer “a safe haven for everyone, of all backgrounds, status, gender, lifestyle and anything else. I’m proud that when ‘they come home from college, careers and adventures, they take the time to come see me.” She is passionate about what theater gives back to the community. And she is a passionate supporter of the culture of APT – “a thriving theater full of people passionate about the same things I am. We are so privileged to work and live here. How could anyone not love this work?”

But anyone who knows Turpin personally also knows that she is passionate about the art form she practices. She crochets and her DNA sculpture in all shades of human skin currently hangs in the APT’s Zephyr Blevins Gallery as part of an exhibition sparked by the current stage production, the comedy ‘Art’ by Yasmina Reza. It’s her first gallery exhibition – and it’s no surprise that she’s passionately happy about it!

Turpin took the time to answer a few questions for this edition of “My Favorite Things.”

What do you collect?

My favorite crochet shape is Amigurumi, although I can crochet just about anything. Everyone loves cute, chubby animals, brightly colored foods that you can play with. Amigurumi is the Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small stuffed creatures. The word is a compound of the Japanese words 編み ami, meaning “crocheted or knitted”, and 包み kurumi, literally “packaging”, as in 縫い包み nuigurumi “stuffed doll”. Amigurumi vary in size and there are no size or appearance restrictions.

How/when/why the collection started:

My Grammy (Earline Hergert) taught me to crochet and especially to read patterns, when I was 7 years old. Learning to read patterns and the basics of crochet has allowed me to read patterns in almost any language now, because the basics are all the same. She always sent me little kits, looms, wool, books. I started making Barbie clothes and accessories because we were too poor to buy real clothes. In turn, I had the coolest Barbie clothes and furniture of all.

What draws you to these articles?

On a truly primitive level, we all love baby animals and cute fuzzy things. They are stuffed animals for older children and adults. That thing you like to look at during the day just because it’s cute. Feel good things.

What is the most expensive object in the collection?

Should I be ashamed or embarrassed by the amount of yarn I have? I’m not. As long as people want my little critters and order from me, that’s all the validation I need to develop and experiment with new colors and textures. When it comes to what I charge for my items, I try to be very reasonable. There is no way to really pay for the time spent on one of my creations. Last month I made a little dinosaur for my nephew’s first birthday and invested 17 hours. If I sold this, I might make $2, if I’m lucky.

Where do you find most of the items in your collection? Flea markets? Thrift stores? Real estate sales ?

Most of my ideas come from current trends I see on social media. The anime is huge and there are so many fun inspirations. There are free patterns, and Etsy is great for that because you can check reviews, updates, and see what other people have rated on how easy to follow a pattern and diagrams are.

Is there “one that got away” – that is, one that you passed up and regretted not buying?

No regrets except that I wish my hands were as nimble as they were 20 years ago and I had done more with my passion/skill sooner. I love teaching my skills and would love to do more.

Is your collection finished or in progress? If it is in progress, will it ever be finished?

My collection will never be complete unless I can no longer use my hands. Even then, I was buying speech recognition software, writing models, and teaching.

Is there a white whale you are looking for?

This is going to sound crazy, but I would love to make socks. Crochet isn’t the best for making socks; that prize will always belong to knitting. I can knit, and I’m so good. There would be the coolest, craziest socks for everyone if I could make them.

What are people saying about your collection?

Really, I’m so humbled and surprised when people like my designs. Yeah, they’re cute and funny or beautiful, but when people are really blown away by something I’ve done, it shakes me to my core. The love that I put in each piece is counted in the points it takes. It’s a lot. One of my proudest moments was when Brenda Nemec, friend and director of the Arkansas Public Theater, asked me to do “an ethnically correct crocheted Nativity scene” for a sit-on-mantel show. of a fireplace on the plateau. My heart burst! Then when she and others saw it and liked it, I had this moment of, ‘If I die now, I’m completely happy.’ It’s better… someone bought it for me! And I received three more orders for the exact same sets.

Will you ever run out of space for your collection and, if so, do you have a plan for that event?

Hahahaha!!! I need an apartment or studio for all my yarn and supplies. No kidding. It’s 100% true. Most of my sons are currently in bins in a storage unit. My dream would be to one day have a big studio with tons of lockers to sort and organize. It would also look like any decent craft store yarn department. Two weeks ago I needed three colors because I had run out. I came home with a basket half full of wool. Not ashamed.

What else do you collect? Apart from wool and cats? I have a nice little collection of fancy Limoges style hinged boxes. I can’t afford Limoges! Also, I love the Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls.

Editor’s note: We all have something — or somewhere — that triggers serotonin just by holding it or seeing it: the woods you grew up playing hide-and-seek in, a collection of dolls Barbie dating back to the 1950s, a cupboard full of your mother’s old copper cookie cutters, the room in your house where you feel most peaceful. “My Favorite Things” invites Northwest Arkansans to share those special things or places that bring them joy. Send your suggestions for collectors to feature to [email protected]

“One of my proudest moments was when Brenda Nemec, a friend and director of the Arkansas Public Theater, asked me to create ‘an ethnically correct crocheted Nativity scene’ for a sit-on-the-floor show. mantle of a fireplace on set,” says Turpin. (Courtesy picture)
Photo Turpin’s favorite type of crochet is the Japanese Amigurumi shape. (Courtesy picture)
Photo Lisa Turpin (left) pauses during the opening night festivities for ‘Art’ at the Arkansas Public Theater with staff member Karen Maxwell (center) and costume designer Ilia Rivera. The blue and white outfits reflected the onstage comedy theme. (Courtesy picture)

About Tracy G. Larimore

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