Artists & Makers
Hey Kessy Chats with Amber Folkman
Posted September 3, 2016
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IMG_0088 Get to know the woman behind A Momma Abroad—a mother of three adorable boys, an all-around crafter, and a Pinay at heart!

HK: You’ve been living in Manila since 2009. What brought your family to the Philippines and what do you love most about living here?
AF: My husband works for a company based in Seattle and he oversees the outsourcing operation based here for architecture and CAD design software. Living in Manila is such an adventure every day. I learn a new word, try a new food, or see something I never have before. I love the warm culture and the warm temperature.IMG_0091HK: Is there a Filipino art, craft, or activity that you’ve discovered and have come to love?
AF: I go crazy over textiles, specifically weaving and Inabel. I love visiting workshops and seeing the artists create. I wish I knew the Filipino word for a seamstress because they are dear to my heart.

Obviously, I love sewing and when I walk down the rows of seamstresses at the Marikina Dry Market, the hum of their machines speaks an endearing rhythm to my heart. Can I just take a minute to talk about how much I love the Marikina Dry Market? Their baskets are the bomb! The rows and rows of fabric, bilaos, and wooden rings of all sizes have me swooning. I am currently working on a bilao installation for my home. I don’t know why but I am fascinated with the bilao. I know it is used to hold pancit and kakanin but I want to use it in 100 different ways.

HK: You’re a mom who loves making things. How do you juggle taking care of your family and working on your personal projects?
AF: Oh man, that’s a loaded question! I believe we as humans were born to create. Whatever it may be, we are here on earth to improve it by creating. As a mother, I get caught up in the daily tasks and whenever I feel run down I know I need to make something. My safety nets for creating are sewing and baking. I know it sounds so traditional, but you know what, it makes me happy so I’m gonna go with it. I should be better about regularly sewing because it makes me happy. I should join one of those challenges where you create something for 30 days or whatever.

HK: How do you get your adorable kids into arts and crafts? Any suggestions for other parents on fun crafty activities they can do with their kids?
AF: I do love making things with my kids! Funnily enough, I am terrible about sitting down to cut and color with them. However, they love to “drive” my pedal while I am sewing and place needles in the pin cushion.

We do a lot of cooking together in the kitchen too! My three-year-old’s main job at home is the official egg cracker. I am learning that mothers should find a meeting point with their children where their interests collide. Whatever that intersection is, do it and do a lot of it.

HK: Who, what, and where do you draw inspiration for your art?
AF: Funnily enough, I stopped looking at Pinterest months ago. I don’t even know when I last “pinned” a craft. I love making pieces to use in my home or costumes for my kids. L’Indochine is my love language. I have been inspired and drawn toward their bright colors, pom-poms, and tassels lately in my sewing. An Australian home and kids line, Kip & Co, has been hitting it out of the park lately with thick plaids and tassels. To me, it looks like Ilocos weaves embellished with tassels and pom-poms. I picked up some blankets a few weeks ago in La Union and have plans to make similar throws and pillows with them. I also love the artist Kezz Brett and her vibrant colors.

HK: You’re teaching a beginners sewing class at Hey Kessy on September 10. [Interested? Sign up here!] How did you discover sewing?
AF: I am beyond stoked to be teaching a workshop. I had major kilig when I saw the email in my inbox. I remember feeling like my craft world in Manila unlocked when I first found Hey Kessy, and now I am teaching a class with the studio. Crazy, diba?! Actually, I first started sewing as a little girl. I don’t remember my first lesson, but I vividly remember my consequences for being disobedient involved hemming clothes or making curtains for our house. Ha ha! My mom was the ultimate domesticator. As a teenager, she threatened me once with, “I will make you sew!” I replied, “Sew what?” She heard, “So what!” It was a very funny miscommunication. Sew What was actually the name of my first ETSY shop where I sold aprons using Urban Outfitter’s clearance duvets. Grabe, I am getting so excited to teach this workshop.

HK: Speaking of Hey Kessy, do you have a favorite shop item?
AF: I am not going to lie, I love washi tape. I actually told myself I couldn’t buy any more Hey Kessy tape the last time I went in the shop. I did however pick up a round canvas and am currently having a moon painted for my bedroom. I will be going back for many more. By the way, this is our city scape which my husband made with Hey Kessy washi tape.

HK: What advice can you give to fellow makers and crafters?
AF: I have never really pictured myself as an artist so I don’t feel fit to give advice but I will try. I guess I would say do what makes you happy and explore in that area. I love sewing with fabric, but I also really love sewing with paper. I don’t love sewing whole pieces of clothing, but I love making pieces for my home. Also, don’t be afraid to take inspiration from something somebody else has already done as long as you make it your own. I often don’t come up with fantastic ideas myself, but I like what others do and add my own personal touch.

Visit Amber’s website or follow her Instagram account to find out more about her adventures in the Philippines. Let us know who you’d like to read about next!

Photos courtesy of Amber Folkman

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