Category Archives: Laura Mappin Art

Crocheted Uncircumcised Penis





Ok, this one needs some help from a hydrolocrochet engineer. Know anyone?

~ ~ ~

At a show displaying my work, a woman asked if I would crochet her a penis for her husband. I asked if he was circumcised or not. She hesitated, then asked, “How do you tell?”

I used this piece to demonstrate but by the expression on her face, I think she was still not sure. See, I do need that hydrolocrochet engineer.

Tampon Ristra

tampon ristraTampon ristra.

Created during my tampon decorating period.

Did you know that tampons are alive? As they are painted, they grow. The first few grew quite a bit in size until I learned to put a small amount of paint on and let it dry before putting more.

My friend Tanya riffed off this and created lovely helpful directions for how to make these.

Have at it!

1000 journals project

Back when the 1000 Journals project was getting started, I played in journal #550.

Through some fluke of the universe, I even appeared in the film about this project, which you can actually get via Netflix. Yes, this anti-lover of limelight girl is in film. For about 20 seconds.

But really, so much in the film was news to me. I was just having a good time being silly doing my silly collagy thing when I learned through the film that all these amazing exchanges but also some mean stuff was going back and forth around the world between people who didn’t even know each other. It had to be difficult for some of the participants to tell their stories. I think the producer Andrea Kreuzhage did a very respectful job helping these stories be told. Thank you, Andrea. And thank you, interviewees, for being so courageous.

Several journals were on display and the film played for several months in early 2009 at .

I don’t remember how my contribution started. It’s very possible I was riffing off of someone else’s collaged cut-out of a magazine that asked, “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it’s all about?


What if the hokey pokey is what it’s all about?


Just the hokey pokey?
Not model trains too?

Oh, Pleeze make it so
and get me out of these electrodes!


Can I wear my hat?

…and ice. Ice blocks … right? Don’t tell me.


Oh no, couldn’t be. It must be this laundry detergent.

The hokey pokey? How do we shoot that?


Yes, what you read in the papers this morning is true.
The bible does say that it’s all about the hokey pokey.
Now please line up so we can get started as soon as
the band is ready.

You guys do the hokey pokey
ONE MORE TIME on that court
and I’ll have each of you expelled.


Yes, master. It says here that it is all about
the hokey pokey.

hokey? pokey? poke poke.
hokey hokey. who? what? who said that?
hey, quit poking me. I’m gonna tell mom.

Marshmallow Book

Take this book to your next picnic!

Dip marshmallow type into edible ink and press into graham crackers to write your own messages! Even write your own book?

Well, ok, the marshmallow letters are actually etched onto the marshmallow using a laser. And the message in the graham crackers is also burned in by a laser. And there’s no edible ink here. But hey, it Looks like it’s typeset!


This idea came to be while being silly with my silly friend Pati, who was also helping organize a BABA show at Olive Hyde Gallery. she mentioned the show coming up and asked if I had anything new.

“Well, I have this bag of leftover marshmallows from another project that I’m trying to use up in some clever way.”

I don’t remember who said what next but within seconds we had marshmallow type and graham cracker message book that any loose book arts person would laugh at.

Ok, I’ll make it for the show. Coming up in two weeks. Sounds simple enough.

Heh heh …

The reason I even started documenting this silly trip was because of the first several things which did go wrong.

First, I needed to make a jig to hold the marshmallows in place for lasing. I took measurements of various contorted mini marshmallows through the bag and decided a half inch circle would be fine.

During my first laser session which I thought would be all I’d need, I cut the first jig and found I had to twist the marshmallows into the holes. Some didn’t go so well. They tore open at the sides. I was surprised at how hard it was to squeeze a marshmallow into a slightly smaller rounded space. I decided I’d have to build a new jig with holes of 0.6 inches in diameter and come back for another laser session.

I experimented with putting the text on the marshmallows just to see if that was going to work. Somehow my letters, even though they were built on top of the circles, were not spaced properly and would miss anything close to the center of the mallows. Somehow I had screwed up passing the right size of my Adobe Illustrator file to Photoshop.

Then there was the soot left on the edges of the jig from laser cutting that got all over the marshmallow. I made a note to clean the next version of the jig.



Cutting next jig design



Last few circles



Pop the holes out

I tried cleaning the jigs with a cloth but it got too tedious and the jigs were bending. then it hit me – a dirty sided marshmallow looks more authentic as a piece of type. love that serendipity.


Gee, mini marshmallow quality control ain’t what it used to be.

Well, honestly, I don’t think I ever knew what mini marshmallow QC was like. I’m happy to admit I never had a project that required me to pay attention to them at this level.



Three jigs cut identically out of three pieces of cardboard gave the height needed to hold the marshmallows.

But I forgot to put something underneath to hold the marshmallows from falling through. I thought they’d all stick to the sides enough.



Refilling the jig again with marshmallows – and a piece of cardboard underneath.



Mini m’s getting lased.


marshmallowBookoohhh … the p is smokin’.

Unconsciously, I had high precision expectations of getting every letter set perfectly oriented on each marshmallow. The first run showed me there was more slop in marshmallow shape and jig placement than I was going to be able to apply my perfectionistic ways to this project successfully in the few days left to create it. Was that a sentence? I had to back way off and just be happy if the letter or number or punctuation mark looked convincingly enough like what I was aiming for.

Should I admit that as I was building the set of type, I sat there for many minutes trying to remember all the special characters I could put in there. I’d draw a few, then stare out into space. Finally, at some point my eyes fell on my keyboard and I was saved. Angels sang. well, actually, my angels, newly relieved, went back to their gin and 5 card stud.

So now that you get the gist of this project, I can explain that the first big failing was when I tried to go back and forth between Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I needed precisely sized jig vectors from Illustrator but wanted to use a Photoshop brush for the text because it would look more marshmallowy although less typesetty. So I built the circles in AI, then passed that file to Photoshop and built all the characters. First round at the laser I saw that the file size was not preserved and my text was slightly larger than I wanted it and I was not successful in resizing it in CorelDraw, which I need to use to print to the laser.

Oh-khay – that was 4 hours into the project, about total of what I was expecting to spend. After one more half hour hemming and hawwing, I decided to do all the letters in AI. I know, I know – you were staring at the marshmallows asking “Why in the world didn’t she use Photoshop?”


Etching the crackers.



Cracking the crackers.

Sometimes I am prepared with multiples, like having four copies of each word in the crackers. But I found I could not break the crackers evenly and was forced to improve my methods before I ran out of crackers. Wood block to the rescue. I pushed the cracker against the wood block straight edge and voila! Straightly broken word crackers!

I tempted fate by only making one set of marshmallow type. As I was gluing them down with rubber cement to the paper plate, I accidentally dropped one into the rubber cement jar. I fished it out and kept gently wiping the cement off until it seemed like I was down to marshmallow. I couldn’t be sure. At some point all the tiny cement balls turned dark gray like they always do. I had to use tweezers to pick off the bits.



Closeup of the type.



And the words.



This pic was supposed to prove to you that they were lased but ok, it could still be brown paint or a Sharpie marker – your guess.

While getting through the days of this project, I did have to remember to store this edible book in a locked plastic container to keep it out of reach of the mouse visitor that we’re trying to transplant these days.

Net net – it took three times as many hours as planned, not counting the 4 plus hours it took for me to compile this story. And the book won’t last long. But these electrons will. And it’s just one more bit of silliness in this world – a world that isn’t yet too long on silliness. So I’m happy to do my part. What are you doing for yours? tell me!

On display at Olive Hyde Gallery through Oct 2. reception Sept 3, 2010 7-9 pm.

My artist statement for this show

Marshmallow etching parameters

Laser brand Epilog
Laser type CO2
Laser watts 45
Tube life kinda new
Artwork thin lines
focus out of focus down 0.5 inch
Raster Speed 20
Raster Power 90
dpi 300

graham cracker etching parameters

Laser brand Epilog
Laser type CO2
Laser watts 45
Tube life kinda new
Artwork thinnish lines
focus out of focus down 0.5 inch
Raster Speed 50
Raster Power 90
dpi 200

A friend asked me why I didn’t make this book with chocolate as the ink. Beeeecauuuuuse I was too laser focused? Beeeecauuuuse I only had a short amount of time to make it? Beeeecauuuuse I didn’t think of it? I think chocolate ink on the graham crackers (and maybe still laser etching the marshmallows) would work so much better. If you are so inspired, go for it! and send me a pic!

Artist Statement – Olive Hyde – Lasered Book

Laura Mappin

Whether I’m crocheting with thread, laser etching food, or constructing with paper, LEDs, or beads, I will be creating something that addresses a taboo, makes me laugh, or uses materials in interesting ways.  The more of these characteristics I can achieve with a piece, the more I’m inclined to create it.

Having made several significant decisions in my life that were not in my best interests and having now extricated myself from those hamster balls coated inside with silicone, I seize this opportunity to make art to connect with those who are firmly thriving on the other side in order to sustain myself and keep building the fulfilling life that feeds me and my brain.

Even if I live to be 100, there will not be enough hours left for me to laugh enough to make up for what I have seen us humans do to each other. This contrasts with the capacities I know we have to understand and care better for each other and our Selves.  Therefore, I make myself laugh.  If you laugh with me, well, then that’s one more person I won’t be arguing with.  At least for a few minutes.

I live in the Bay Area, teach classes on laser operation, give talks on how you can laser etch your face into a tortilla among other things, and sell lighthearted adult themed silk laser cut products.  I had my first solo show at San Francisco’s SOAP Gallery, Sept 2008, called When Doilies Go Bad.  One of my doilies currently in work is a tribute to George Carlin. (Ed. note – it is completed now.)

In 2004, I received my first MFA from Laura Mappin University while I didn’t even realize I was enrolled.  I keep receiving one each year whether I want it or not.

More of my work, collaborative projects, and musings can be found at my website:

Hand Embroidered Meat


Plated embroidered ham with rosemary and grape garnish



I saw someone machine embroidering a shirt but they were using plastic wrap in the hoop, trying to get rid of the hoop marks on the fabric. I laughed. It looked like they were embroidering a sandwich.

My brain immediately saw an embroidered slice of bologna. Then it asked “what art would be embroidered on bologna?”

Ok, then. it’s decided.

I went to the grocery store to buy some bologna and left without buying, saying to myself, “Laura, this is a stupid idea … drop it … you don’t have time for this.”

A week later I had to go back because my brain just couldn’t let go.  I’ll just make one, I convinced myself. I spent $2.65 for 10 slices of bologna – something I haven’t eaten in yeeers. Think of it as art material.



Bologna didn’t embroider well, even with short threads and the tiniest needle. my hands warmed it up too fast. Jjust a little bit of thread rubbing past this meat destroyed its integrity.  And if the needle went through the thread of a previous stitch, it pulled it out of this marshmallow meat.

One friend commented, “Everyone knows bologna is felted meat.”  I needed meat with grain in it.

Another friend bought me sliced ham after watching my bologna trials. THAT is the sign of a true friend.

To get the pic above, I had to warm up the bologna, which I had thrown in the freezer for another trial but then gave it up when I got the ham. To warm it up quickly, I rigged a hair dryer to blow on it for about 5 minutes.



My first ham trial was just that. I opted for a second one using a paper pattern from one of my own drawings from other projects, resizing it and positioning it to take advantage of the lines in the ham.



Ready for surgery, sans anisthetic






At some point, all good things must come to an end.  I threw away my first piece of embroidered ham.
Since it was trash day and the trash can was freshly emptied, the ham landed flat on the bottom of the can.


Where embroidered meat goes to die

I was hoping my housemate would find it unsuspectingly but he didn’t by the next morning so I mentioned it. Good thing ’cause it was already one third gone – wolfed away by the antssss.


They devoured this juicy rotting treat, breaking it up into many little ant-size pieces and carting them off although we noticed that only about 1 in 10 careening back home carried a visible piece. The rest we presumed had engorged thoraxes and were dragging on the ground trying not to regurgitate before they got home (if that is what they do – anybody know?).


Two days later a bit of meat and some thread in the shape of a rather tattered cock remained on the bottom of the can.


OIt seemed like the ants left a fuzzy mark where they dealt with the thread. Trying to leave it behind?


Three days later, no more ham is gone, the thread is tidied up, and most of the pink fuzzy spots are also gone. I stuck my short arm down the deep can in the name of research and touched the pink fuzz. but that revealed nothing. no fuzz, no change in what it looked like.

You know what the solution is. Another piece of ham with 5 colors of embroidery thread that are far away from ham pink. Coming soon. Any wagers?