#MakersMonday: An Interview with Amber

My spirit animal is something that flies around the forest, telling all the other animals good news. It’s one of my favorite things in life – having good news and the opportunity to share it. The #BlogtownTuesday mini-interviews I’m sharing introduce people I connect with in my social blogging experiment. Today, I’m starting a second series, #MakersMonday, introducing creative people making lovely and interesting things. My first guest is Amber, at Streams in the South. I’ll ask my #MakersMonday guests 5 questions. Here’s how Amber responded.

Tell us about your work.What do you create?

I can make all sorts of things, but I have chosen to focus on machine embroidery for Streams in the South. Machine embroidery is a quick way to customize an existing object or make a new one. It enables me to support both Orthodox embroidery designers and folks who sew, which helps the creative community.

How did you learn to do this kind of work?

In 2012 I created a blog called 50 First Crafts. I started the year with woodworking and tried so many different craft techniques. I met local makers and tried things I had never even heard of before. I loved it. I took a class on machine embroidery that year at a local maker space, then a friend gifted me her unused embroidery machine and the rest is history.

What do you find satisfying about being a “maker”?

I love making things. If I could I would make everything that I use on a daily basis. The most satisfying thing about being a maker is knowing that my items are of use to people. I still use some of the things I made for the blog, and I hope they last long into the future.

What’s your favorite memory associated with practicing your craft?

My favorite memory of crafting in general is when I was a child my mom would sit in our big rocking chair and crochet blankets while I learned alongside her. With the embroidery machine it is the time that I brought it to our parish craft fair and let the children choose what designs and colors to embroider on the items I was making for sale. I hope it inspired them to try making some of the things they use in their own homes.

Share a photo of a favorite piece, and tell us the story that goes with it.

My photo (below) is the back of a Pascha basket cover that I made last year. The linen is from a set of vintage napkins that I found at a thrift store. They are gorgeous and soft. The design is by a Russian woman who has the most beautiful and elegant historical reproduction embroidery designs for sale. I wish I could make everything she releases! The photo shows the back because I was in awe of the detail she put into her design. The back is possibly more beautiful than the front. The whole piece ends up looking and feeling like an heirloom even as I am working on it. I like to imagine it being handed down from a grandmother to her grandchildren and all of the Pascha memories it may one day hold.

#BlogtownTuesday: Interview with Anna at The Brown Dress Project

In today’s edition of this #Blogtown tradition, we’ll be visiting with Anna at The Brown Dress Project. Anna is someone I know in real life, in part because she’s one of the co-authors of my story-telling devotional, Seven Holy Women, coming out this fall. As always on #BlogtownTuesday, I’m asking 5 questions. Here’s what Anna says!

How did your blog get its name?

The Brown Dress Project came from the life and work of St. Marcella of Rome (325-410). During her widowhood, she drew together other Christian widows and unmarried women into a collective who focused on living simply despite their wealth. They adopted a sort of proto-habit of plain brown linen or woolen gowns to mark their ascetic choices. I adopted the title to show that living one’s faith as a woman in any era is attainable.

What would you say is the defining characteristic of your blog?

The overall goal for my blog is to bring the stories of women saints into the broader conversation of the Orthodox Church. I want to help women identify with the broad expressions of our lived faith. Wherever a woman finds herself, at whatever age or station, there are saints who have walked that path before her. As a historian, I am fascinated with how the Church remembers the saints in a unique story-telling pattern called hagiography. How we tell the lives of the saints is as important as what we say about them. 

What’s your favorite thing about blogging? Least favorite?

My favorite aspect of blogging is being able to work out ideas in writing and finding connections between past and present. My least favorite thing is the writer’s perennial struggle to translate the ideas into text.

You’re a member of Blogtown, a social blogging collaborative. How is blogging social for you?

I thrive on feedback for my writing. It is like beacons along a rocky coast, pointing me to the good harbor of truth. I also enjoy hearing requests for specific saints’ stories or a thank you for highlighting an obscure saint. I have met and made more Orthodox friends that way through word of mouth than through regular social media.

Tell us 3 things we’d know about you if we’d grown up with you.

The Chronicles of Narnia were my bedtime stories with Dad from age 6 until 9. Mom read the Anne of Green Gables series to me in the morning before school. Thanks to my parents, I am a confirmed Anglophile and ruined for common literature. 

I began collecting hobbies from a young age. I was fascinated with baking, sewing, knitting, spinning yarn, growing gardens, etc. Not your average childhood in the Midwestern suburbs! I begged Dad to get a goat or chickens. He did build square foot garden boxes as a compromise. 

Ballet and dance in general were my main after school activities up through high school. I still love to dance, though more sedately, in historical English Country style, like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. 

Thank you, Anna!

You can connect with Anna at The Brown Dress Project. See you in #Blogtown!