Many of us yearn for other women a doorstep away waiting, just like us, to grab a cup of mid-morning coffee and chat about our latest projects (and maybe what the kids are up to today). Luckily the world of crafty blogs brings those women to our door in a new, albeit familiar way. We get glimpses into family life, we’re inspired, we find new recipes and ideas for projects and, if we’re really lucky, we feel like we’ve made that new friend a doorstep away. Here at the Sew,Mama,Sew! blog we want to bring you a step closer to learning more about women who create and inspire in their daily lives. The women we interview might be in your state or they may be across the ocean, but we think you’ll enjoy getting to know them better as you visit us here.
Beki, a.k.a. Artsty-Crafty Babe, is a busy woman. She works each day, has three active and happy children, crafts by night (and weekends!) and she has a beautiful blog that integrates all the components of her busy life. Beki shares her world with others through her blog, Artsy-Crafty Babe. While craftiness has always been a part of Beki’s life (the “Things to Make section in Highlights magazine was a fun focus in her childhood), she creates more now than ever before. Beki first discovered blogs about two years ago. The first popular blog she ever regularly read (and still reads) was Soule Mama. As Beki says, “I jumped in feet first.
Beki moved on from the dried beans and pasta creations of her Highlights magazine days to creating handmade Christmas gifts for all of her friends in middle school (Beki adds, “Handmade was not cool then! ). Now crafting is a part of her daily life. Beki writes, “I’d say that creating gives me energy. When I started blogging I discovered that I need to create every day. It feeds my soul and keeps me sane â‚¬¦ I fit in creating where I can, whether it’s on my lunch break, while the kids are in the tub or after they go to bed. Rarely do I ever have a chunk of time to spend creating. I do a lot of stuff in 10-15 minute increments. By the time I’m ready to physically make something, I’ve already got it all planned out in my head or on paper.
Beki will celebrate her 10th wedding anniversary this coming fall and is happily married to her best friend. Family is important to her and she shares her creativity with her children, Lily (almost 6), Alex (almost 3) and Ava (turning one on May 1st); “We spend a lot of time crafting. We do things together and separately. Often times when I’m up in my sewing studio Lily and Alex will be up there with me coloring or working on some project of their own â‚¬¦ The main thing I want them to learn is that when you’re creating there is no right or wrong answer. The things you make are a reflection of yourself, so anything goes. Her children especially enjoy seasonal crafts and decorating their home for the holidays.
Beki writs, “I think I’m creative in using things that I have. I enjoy the challenge of turning something that is ugly or unwanted into something pretty and useful â‚¬¦ I think I’m creative daily as a parent. In dealing with kids, you’re forced to be creative, mostly in coming up with solutions to their problems. I think I’m also pretty creative around the house. My first thought is never to go out and buy something, but to find or make something that we have on hand to solve our problems.
Like most (all?) mothers Beki is up early and late, guiding her family through the day and finding ways to meet her own needs too. A typical day for Beki begins before dawn when she gets herself ready. Beki wakes her family and, “From that moment on it is a mad dash to get everyone dressed and out the door. My husband brings all the little ones to daycare and school, so I have the morning commute to myself. After work she picks her youngest children up from daycare, starts dinner, and “The rest of my evening is spent hanging out with my family, usually multi-tasking household chores and what ever else needs attending to.
When Beki thinks about finding balance in her life, making time for herself is important. Beki writes, “When my second child was born, I learned that I need to spend time on myself, doing things for myself. As a mother, that’s hard because we want to give, give, give all the time. It’s not always easy to take time out of my day to do this, but I’ve learned that when I do, I’m a much happier person. When I’m happy, everything else falls into place.
An important part of time for herself is crafting and Beki is lucky enough to have a dedicated space for her work where projects can be left out and where resources are organized and accessible. You can get a glimpse of Beki’s studio here on her Flickr site. Beki feels this helps her to create in small bits of time. She keeps a sketch book with her as another way to integrate her craft into daily life. When ideas come to her she can quickly record them and return to the idea later when time allows.
Before Beki found crafty blogs two years ago she participated on message boards. She found a few blogs she really enjoyed and then followed comment links to other blogs. She felt blogs were a perfect fit for her and allowed her to share her projects, and the connections and friendships she’s made through her blog are important to Beki. She enjoys the feedback and adds, “I like having my life and my projects documented. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone back to my archives to look something up that I can remember writing about. I’d like to eventually get my blog printed up in book form, like through blurb.com.
When you visit Beki’s site you might see one of her latest bag designs, a skirt she’s whipped up for spring or you might share in the special accomplishments of her children. Beki writes, “When I first started my blog it was supposed to be only about my crafts. I wasn’t interested in sharing anything about my family. But then I got pregnant and decided to document that, which I’m really glad I did. Today I think it’s a good mix of family life, my kids’ accomplishments and my crafts. Blogging can add some self-imposed stress, however, and sometimes it feels like too much for Beki. Like many other blogging moms Beki has also worried, on occasion, about including her children on her blog. Overall it’s been an important part of Beki’s crafting life and her blog is an important component of the balance she seeks. In addition to maintaining her own blog and joining in collaborative blog projects such as the In Stitches Sew Along, Tie One On and Back Tack, Beki enjoys visiting other people’s blogs.
Sewing and Process
Blogs led Beki to Japanese craft books which were completely new to her and “very inspiring. Beki also finds inspiration in beautiful fabric and especially loved a job she had in college at a decorator fabric store; “When things were slow I would walk around the store dreaming of what could be made with which fabric. I felt so stimulated in that element. I also take inspiration from what’s around me. I’m always on the look out for things to be translated into fabric or a craft. Fabric is Beki’s favorite medium. She writes, “When I’m around pretty fabric, I can’t control myself. I must have it in my possession! She turns fabric into stunning creations.
Beki writes, “Of everything I make, I prefer the design phase of the project. It’s at that point when I feel that I’m in the zone. Of course I also like the finished product, seeing my idea come to fruition. Beki shared one example of her design process recently through her blog as she worked on a pleated bag design. Although she’s seen many similar bags, Beki enjoyed finding her own favorite proportions and styling, and she’s currently working on a larger version. Beki wasn’t very pleased with the design here and after lot of sewing she’d made it all the way to Version 4.0! She changed it a bit here and just look at her beautiful, latest versions.
Beki enjoys challenging herself with her sewing and over the past five years practice has made all the difference in her growth as a seamstress. She doesn’t get discouraged now when she has to rip seams or start over but says, “I see it as a learning experience. The only way to get better is to constantly challenge yourself. I only wish I had been brave enough to take risks and fail when I was younger.
Now and in the Future
Beki started an Etsy shop and looks at the venture as a way to support her crafting efforts; “After tracking my fabric/craft spending last year, one of my goals for this year is to only spend on fabric/crafts what I make through selling on Etsy. I guess you could say Etsy supports my habit. I like to sell handbags, baby items, and soft furnishings. She adds, “I love making bags but I can only have so many!
When she looks to the future and what she wants for her shop and her creations Beki writes, “I want satisfaction. I want to enjoy the process of creating a product that reflects me as well as appeals to others. She dreams of having her own line where she can develop designs, choose fabric and see her creations coming to fruition.
Spend a little time with Beki at Artsy-Crafty Babe and you can get a glimpse of the dream developing, bit by bit.
You can see more of Beki’s creations on her Flickr site.
» Interviews + Profiles » Interview – Beki, Artsy-Crafty Babe