Name: Amber Alley Siepel

Featured Product at the Goose: Fabric Baskets and Beanbag Sets by Shagbark Studio

The Family: Husband Adam, Kids Ella, 8 and Charlie, 5

On Herself as an Artist:

“You know, I never really identified as an artist. That was my mom’s thing-she was the artist. But growing up surrounded by artistic people and handmade things, I acquired a love for art and a sense of importance about it. I just love fabric and fibers so much and as I’ve begun and continued my work with them, I’ve found myself wondering, “What am I, besides mommy?” I finally decided, “Ok, I’m an artist.”

All about the Products: “I really started out making handmade birthday gifts. I’d have my kids pick out a fabric they liked, and then do a pencil roll with a matching drawstring bag. They have gone over really well with the recipients. Then I started making the beanbags, and needed something to put them in. I remembered that when my little girl was about two she loved carrying things around, bringing them from room to room and picking things up and taking them out and putting them back in, and that’s how the baskets came to be. I was originally inspired by this tutorial on Maya*made, which I’ve now made my own. The baskets are great to make because they’re fun and quick and crafty but when I’m in the mood they can become a bit more artistic by using multiple fabrics and fancy stitching. I also do wine bags, pillows, sachets and pencil rolls, which are for sale at Terra Rosa. Another thing I love to do is fabric canvases, which I think of as sort of a moveable quilt. So far they are very simple, but I’d like to start doing some applique and fiber collage on the canvases. Currently I have canvases on display at Bev & Co. in Community Corners.  I also sell a few things at French Lavender flower shop.”

About the Materials: “I use a Babylock Grace sewing machine, which I bought from Quilter’sCorner, which is also where I get a lot of my fabric. They have an incredible selection, and provide terrific support for anyone who purchases one of their machines. I also buy fabric from Homespun, which has really good stuff, and although I usually prefer to support local businesses, I do find the occasional lovely fabric at JoAnn’s. I also love to repurpose vintage linens (they make great sachets and pillow covers). I can’t stay away from the gorgeous new fabrics that are available, but there are so many reasons to recycle, repurpose, reinvent, etc., and I need to do more of this.”

On Being a WAHM (Work-at-Home-Mama): I have a studio in our home, but I do much of my work there while the kids are at school … I’m the kind of person who needs to have a certain amount of uninterrupted work time. Unfortunately, I get pretty crabby when I’m really in creative mode. Once I’ve got a project planned out and pieces cut, pressed, pinned, etc., I do sometimes let one of the kids work quietly in my studio while I put it all together, but mostly, if my children are home, I’m spending time with them or doing things that don’t require as much concentration. Ella and I have done a few sewing projects together, including a quilt that began as a fabric collage she made at art camp, lavender sachets we made for her teachers as holiday gifts, and felt brooches for party favors. Charlie has also shown some interest and one of my goals is to get him stitching with us more often.”

How do you balance art and parenting? Honestly, I don’t, really! I’m always striving for balance-it’s so hard! I usually feel like I’m neglecting something (doesn’t everyone?). I do have a nice community of women with whom I can talk about juggling art and parenting, both in the real world and online through Etsy and Facebook. Check out the online homes of some of my favorite ladies: Dee Hay Designs, Mrs. McPuppet, Quince and Quire, Chickadee Shop and ZenCrafting.

Some Shagbark Studio goodies all ready for delivery.

 

Amber's daughter Ella (dressed head-to-toe in Goose wear!) shows off the quilt that she and her mother from a fabric collage begun at art camp.

 

Ella and Amber made these brooches as favors for Ella's last birthday party. Best goodie bag ever!

 

You can learn more about Amber and her work at www.shagbarkstudio.com or on her Etsy site, or you can stop by the Goose to check it out in person.  Amber also accepts custom orders, so feel free to contact her with fabric requests!

-Meryl at the Goose

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