Please welcome A Life Sustained sponsor Bella's Casa!
Jae handcrafts Montessori toys and mobiles. In her words:
I am a mother and a Montessori teacher. I have my Montessori training for ages 3-6 (AMI certificate), and I have taught this age group for over a decade in Atlanta, Georgia, and New York City.
I created Bella's Casa as a resource for all parents who want to create (or enhance) learning spaces and activities that will grow a child's mind and instill confidence. It's a learning community for parents, as well as an Etsy store selling hand made Montessori materials for infants and young children.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an artist/maker of things.
I really didn't have art in school - I mean there was never a class where we got to make things or create stuff…except for Home Ec in middle school. I sewed an apron, and this was the first (and practically only) thing I made with my hands out of materials (as opposed to 'creating' using words and numbers as in the core curriculum). I loved making the apron.
Then fast forward to the beginning of my teaching career where I was a Montessori Teacher for ages 3-6, and I truly enjoyed making materials for my classroom - thank goodness, because there were LOTS of materials to be made. I relished in using my hands to create tangible improvements for the children and beautify our classroom environment - good thing I was single and had no children as this consumed my time.
I had moved to New York City to teach; however, my main experience of the city was making materials in my classroom after the children had gone home, not the Big-Apple-Extravaganza that I'm sure New York is. I had always wanted to make things, but the confirmation of this satisfaction came when I was a teacher. In my Montessori training, we were required to make materials that were beautiful, inviting, and durable for the classroom. I loved making these unique materials, and it felt like a special gift to my future students to create these handmade materials for them.
Then my motivation and delight exponentially increased when I had my own child - it was so appealing to make handmade things for my daughter, Chelyn - now age 4. Creating mobiles for Chelyn (and now for other babies) was immensely fulfilling - I got to see (and now impart) the fruits of my own labor! I continue to enjoy the journey of creating and making materials through Bella's Casa.
What inspires you?
I like knowing that the mobiles that I burnt the midnight oil to make will be shipped off to offer an infant a foundation of beauty and focus - to inspire their developing visual sense and captivate their attention. I'm inspired knowing that the Little Linguist Tote and the Extra Special Reader's Kit will provide materials ready to respond to the child's natural urge to create, write, read, and express themselves. My daughter, Chelyn, spontaneously creates original art and writes letters to friends and relatives; and I love thinking of what other children will create just by having the materials ready and available.
Even though I had extensive training in education and early childhood development, becoming a mother was excruciatingly humbling, intensely challenging, and incredibly inspiring. I'm inspired by the journey of motherhood and what we learn about ourselves in the process and how we contribute to a world that acutely needs a mother's touch. I approach my work with the goal of being "mother's best friend" - with an aim to support and encourage mothers right where they are in the midst of their unique circumstances.
What do you like most about the Montessori philosophy?
I am passionate about all aspects of Montessori. I am especially inspired by how Montessori encourages responsibility, nurtures self-discovery, promotes independence, inspires a love of learning – all with a foundation of respect. Above all, I honor Montessori’s vision of creating “a peaceful world through the children.”
Tell us about your favorite piece in your shop and describe your process in designing and making it.
My favorite thing to make is also my most popular product (that works out nicely - I'm grateful!): the Montessori Visual Mobile Series. It is a package of 4 mobiles that are all pre-assembled awaiting the final assembly upon arrival. This exact combination took a while to come together: at first I was selling each mobile individually (but that didn't feel right because they all go together to make a complete series for the infant's developing visual sense); then I tried just selling the parts needed to make the mobiles (but then I realized: which new parent has the time and patience to thread the specified shade of embroidery thread through a styrofoam ball 120 times and then repeat that for the next 4 balls to make the Gobi Mobile…especially when said parent is struggling just to get enough rest while caring for a new baby); then I tried selling the mobiles completely assembled and ready to hang (but this wasn't quite right either because it didn't allow for the parent to put on their own finishing touch and feel a sense of ownership of the mobiles they were offering to their infant).
Creating the mobiles takes time and patience and lots of steps - including wrapping the white spray-painted dowel with black adhesive for the Munari (black & white) Mobile, creating invisible and durable seams with exact cutting and double-sided tape for the Octahedron Mobile, sewing pieces of the dancers together on the Dancer Mobile so they dance in the air currents, and balancing each of the mobiles.
I want my customers to know that my products are coming from my heart and I'm delighted to support them in offering the best to their child.
Jae is offering to one lucky A Life Sustained reader a Little Linguist-Reading Kit!
Just leave a comment on this post to be entered in the random drawing to win. Comments will be closed in the evening of March 31 and a winner will be announced in this post shortly thereafter.
And the lucky winner is...
"beautiful stuff. yay for montessori!"
Thanks Bella's Casa!