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.HK: 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.
Photos courtesy of Amber Folkman