At our June First Thursday Meetup at STITCH Design Shop, we announced that we doubled our Board, adding three new members.

Last month on the blog, we introduced Benton Williams, the Crossfit/dog-loving/fishing enthusiast who’s super passionate about improving his hometown. This week, we’d like to introduce Laura Philpot, an engineer, IT guru, and maker who grew up in rural Davidson County and has lived in Winston-Salem since 1983.

Tell us about your work.Laura Philpot

For the first 23 years of my career at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, I worked in engineering or engineering-related jobs in several manufacturing plants.  Since 2005, I’ve worked in the corporate IT department at Reynolds in various system type of jobs.  Most recently, I’m an Information Management Engagement Director – which is a fancy way of saying I’m the coordinator/facilitator for anything IT for Winston-Salem-based manufacturing facilities.

What are your hobbies?

I like hiking and walking, especially at Hanging Rock and other state parks. In town, I love Salem Creek Greenway and Washington Park.

What’s your favorite place to eat in town?

I don’t have a single favorite, but a list depending on what I’m in the mood for. I like Ryan’s for traditional fine dining, El Maguey for Mexican, PB’s for hot dogs, Burke Street Pizza for pizza and fried ravioli, and a recent visit to Quanto Basta on 4th Street was most enjoyable.

Why do you like Winston-Salem?

The size. It’s large enough to have most of the amenities of a large city – shopping, restaurants, and entertainment – but small enough to get from end-to-end in less than twenty minutes. I also enjoy the climate and Winston-Salem’s central location for travel to the coast or mountains. But mostly, I love the people – for their support of the arts, their proud heritage tobacco, and generosity of spirit and tolerance towards others.

Stars 1

Froebel stars

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?

It changes as I grow older, and usually it’s the last thing I’ve made or have figured out how to make. I enjoy folding paper Froebel or Moravian stars and have probably made hundreds of them in recent years.

What’s something you want to make in the future?  

I’ve always wanted to learn to weld. I’ve been thinking about making a bottle tree from rebar and scrap metal. I recently enjoyed making paper weights at The Olio, so I’m game for trying just about anything.

The Olio Paperweight

Paperweight Laura made at The Olio

How did you get into making?

My mom is originally from Tyro, NC, and her mother is the person who had the most influence on my desire to make or craft things.  She supported herself after my grandfather’s death by weaving placemats and rugs from scraps of cloth, old clothing, and cast off remnants from the local hosiery mills’ call looper clips.  She lived to be almost 107, and in 1990 at the age of 103 was awarded the NC Heritage Award in Folk/Traditional Crafts and Visual Arts.

My grandmother wove in her a little shop behind her house for many years. I believe she enjoyed her work and liked the challenge of a sale, but mostly she loved her visitors – folks who came from all over the world to watch and learn and listen to her stories. This is what I hope MIXXER can be – a place where anyone can come to watch and learn and share about making something.

How do you think MIXXER can help people?

I think MIXXER can be a place for people to be creative and inventive using tools and resources that they normally would not have access to, and that it will foster a community of folks who can share, grow, and teach us and others that there really aren’t any limits to how or what you make.

Save the Date!

Our next First Thursday Meetup is August 6th from 6-8 p.m. We’re still determining a location and activity, so stay updated via our blog, Facebook, or Twitter.