Today we welcome A Life Sustained sponsor Earthy Mama Goods!
Kari is a crunchy mama living on an urban homestead in Wisconsin. Her shop is filled with Waldorf-inspired felted pieces and personal care items for women. In her words:
First, let me preface this with an admission that I'm pretty lousy at introductions. In fact, if you knew me you'd already know that I hate small talk and would rather dig right into discussing a topic in-depth with you. That said, here's my attempt at an introduction.
I'm a mama, wife, and woman. I'm artistic, contemplative, and love the process of creation. If I'm not sewing, needle felting, baking, cooking, crafting, or growing something I feel empty. I love challenges and obstacles just make me want to succeed all that much more. I'm motivated and ambitious. My daughters have taught me patience and compassion. Mothering has softened me and that's a very positive thing. I've been journeying through motherhood for about 21 years now. I mother a twenty year old son, a 7 year old daughter, and a 3 year old daughter.
I've been married to my husband and partner for twelve years. It seems like my life has distinct chapters to it and long ago one of those chapters included a very different career in higher education administration working as the director of a college career center. I've been very blessed to be able to focus my career in recent years on my family and artistic expression. I sell some of my work through my etsy shop - EarthyMamaGoods - and also at local craft swaps. For a more in-depth perspective of me and my family I invite you to visit us at my blog, Moo Said the Mama. My blog writing has become less regular as my etsy shop business has increased. I think that's partly because my creative focus has shifted but also partially due to the reality of limited time.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist/maker of things.
My journey began when I was a child. I have memories of working on hand sewing projects when I was ten years old. Recently my sister was sharing a memory with me that she had of me sewing a dress for her favorite stuffed rabbit, Harriet. Our dog had gotten the toy and chewed on the original dress and my sister was upset, so I found some fabric remnants my mother had and designed and sewed a new dress for Harriet. I continued enjoying handcrafts and building up my skills set throughout my teen and adult years. As a teenager I took dressmaking classes and refined my sewing skills. Then as a young adult I focused more on embroidery and most recently I've fallen in love with working with wool and am spending more time working with felt and needle felting.
|This is my needle felting workspace, aka the nursing chair where I complete all hand sewing and embroidery.|
What inspires you?
At this point in my life my children probably inspire me the most. Often one of my daughters will ask me to make a toy and then I'll figure out the design and construction based upon that request. The one toy I haven't quite figured out, though, was the dish draining rack my oldest daughter asked me to sew! They honestly think their mama can sew anything. I spend a fair amount of time working out designs for toys for them to play with. I love creating imaginative open-ended toys for them out of natural materials. Sometimes I'll be inspired by nature or the seasons, but most often it's my girls who inspire me.
What do you like most about the Waldorf philosophy?
First, I feel the need to clarify that while much of my work is very inspired by Waldorf handcrafts we don't personally use Waldorf educational philosophy and instead more accurately identify as unschoolers. That said, I admire many facets of Waldorf philosophy and educational methods and we do integrate some concepts into our daily life. I love the way that Waldorf schools allow children to live within the innocence of childhood and that within the philosophy is a respect for their innate abilities and potential. I love that the concept of valuing all people for their intrinsic worth as human beings is integrated into the Waldorf educational community. I appreciate that the philosophy focuses less on academics in the early years and more on practical skills and imaginative play. I love the way that nature and natural rhythm and the seasons are integrated into the children's lives. I enjoy integrating celebrations and festivals into our seasonal celebrations. As an artist and toymaker I appreciate the focus on natural materials and handcrafts.
Tell us about your favorite piece in your shop and describe your process in designing and making it.
I hate choosing favorites. I can select one piece and discuss it, but I can't call it my favorite. I'm a very harsh critic and never quite seem satisfied with my work. I can always look at it and see something I could do differently or some aspect I'd prefer to change about it. To answer the question, though, I'm going to select the Life's Triad sculpture. The process of designing it first began at a local craft swap in mid December of 2011.
My booth was placed next to the booth manned by one of my friends. She's working as a doula and completing childbirth education training and I started to think about how we're both in similar places in our life and also in very different places. We both have children about the same ages (she has a 6 year old daughter and a 3 year old son) and we've known each other since our daughters were toddlers. We're journeying through those parts of our lives together. But - I'm considerably older than she is. So I'm really journeying through life at a different stage even though my daily life resembles hers.
Discussions about births and doula work and breastfeeding counseling and all sorts of conversation filled that day at the craft swap. The idea of Life's Triad began to form in my mind. I continued to think about how we women cycle through our lives, the roles we play, and our development. I began to envision a circle to represent our lives and stages and figures to mark those stages. Eventually the concept became the three women - the maiden, the mother, and the crone. These archetypes are obviously not my original thought, but represented well what I was conceptualizing. Then I just began to felt.
I actually do most of my needle felting sitting in my living room in the nursing rocking chair. I put my feet up and relax. I put a cushion on my lap and place my needle felting foam on top of the cushion. I place a box with my wool next to me and begin to felt. Over the course of several days the figures began to take shape. I first created the sculpture without a base, but then I kept looking at it and realized that I needed something to completely join the figures together - both metaphysically and physically. They were connected at the hands, but they were baseless and the concept needed more grounding. So about a day after I thought the sculpture was finished I woke up very early and needle felted a base and attached it to the bottoms of the figures. This sculpture in particular was an intensive one. I worked late into the evenings and early in the mornings until the ideas were all out of me. Some pieces are like that where I just feel compelled to work and work and work until the concept is fully visualized.
Above is pictured my machine sewing workspace. I have a small alcove in our dining room where I placed a very old desk and a vintage 1950's Singer featherweight sewing machine. I still haven't gotten around to restoring the old featherweight so I'm currently using it as a table for my newer Singer sewing machine. Off to the left you see my Brother serger under its cover. Not pictured, but farther over to the left is my Ashford drum carder and my KAM snap press. I love this space because it allows me to work in the center of our house. Often the girls will be working on arts and crafts projects at the dining room table right behind me as I'm sewing. All of the windows in the alcove also provide fabulous light.
Kari is generously offering to one A Life Sustained reader a $25 gift certificate to her shop!
Congratulations to angie lilly!
"oooo I love love love the 2" high toadstool needle felted wool Waldorf style! so cute!! Thanks so much for the chance to win!"
Thanks Earthy Mama Goods!