SF Etsy Team Member, Ashley Nickels from Alphabet Ashley Handmade, is a presenter this year at Craftcation and we are dying to hear more about this talented maker and can't wait to catch up with her at the conference.
We thought it would be great to give you a sneak preview of this talented maker and her upcoming workshops. Ashley is a quilter, crafter, and teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works full time teaching in-person and online sewing and quilting classes and has her own small business, Alphabet Summer Handmade.
We are excited to take the journey south to Craftcation and can't wait to get to know more about Ashley so we asked her some questions.
Tell us about yourself, Alphabet Summer Handmade and your work.
Hi! I'm Ashley Nickels, and I am an artist, quilter, teacher, and writer in San Francisco. I'm originally from Michigan, and I spent most of my twenties living and working in Spain. I began my blog in 2010 when I was still teaching school full time, in an effort to kick start my creativity during my summer breaks. I did one project for each letter of the alphabet, and then wrote about it! Hence the name, Alphabet Summer. Since then, I operate under the name "Alphabet Ashley" in most realms. I started making my Pop-open bags (patent pending!) in 2014, and since then, have been developing my "Watercolor Quilting" technique and art-quilt pieces.
We are excited about Craftcation and planning to attend your workshop.. Can you tell us more about what you will be presenting?
I'm super excited, too! I love teaching at Craftcation. I'll be teaching a number of workshops including the DIY Sleep mask, the Reversible Sun Hat, and my personal favorite, Watercolor Quilting,
What was your favorite experience from a previous Craftcation Conference?
Wow, there are too many to name. All of the stand-out memories in my head are conversations with people I met or the connections I made, starting from the very first time I was an attendee in 2013. I remember being in a Sunday morning session with Nicole Stephenson on making a "Post-Craftcation Plan," and there was a lot of crying (tears of joy, mind you) by me, by Nicole, by everyone... And that's when I realized I needed to quit teaching full time. Heck if it didn't take me two more years to actually do it, but I'd say the seed was planted at Craftcation.
What's new at Alphabet Summer Handmade? Are you working on any projects right now that you are really excited about?
I'm working on a bunch of new Watercolor Quilting work, and I'm also revamping my website and creating an online shop/gallery for my work! It's very exciting.
What is involved in your creative process?
I'm trying to experiment, play, and iterate as much as possible. I try to take advantage of any creative impulse I have, which is to say, there are always lots of sketchbooks lying around, and many Word docs opened on my computer. Also, I always remember what a dear yoga teacher used to remind me, "the hardest part is unrolling the mat." I try to make my creative work easily accessible-- by leaving my machine set up, or leaving work out-- so I can't give myself an excuse not to get started.
Whats the best advice you ever received about how to be more creative?
I try to remind myself that I have to "ride the wave" and that if sometimes I feel in a creative rut, that it's okay. It'll come back, I just have to go for a few (dozen) walks in nature or read a book or see a movie in the meantime.
What is your favorite thing about teaching and other speaking engagements
I love connecting with my students, and watching them connect with their art, and with each other. Something magical happens in a creative classroom. It can be a very vulnerable space, which is why I'm so grateful that students place so much trust in my hands as their teacher. It's so humbling, and it is so special to me.
What does Craftcation mean to you and why is it worth going to?
Like so many others, Craftcation means so much to me. I think that is a testament to Nicole and Delilah and all of the work and love they pour into making the experience special for all of their participants. Every year I'm reminded of this, and I'm reminded that this is the kind of community I want to be a part of: inclusive, creative, humble, and just a lot of fun.
What tech tools do you use on a daily basis that you could not live without?
Well, I'd say my BERNINA sewing machine, first off! I love that thing so much. And then, probably my phone, particularly Instagram and Evernote, although I love disconnecting for periods of time.
If you could choose a theme song for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That's an impossible question to answer! Right now, though, my theme song seems to be "I Feel it All" by Feist.
Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?
Please say hello! You can find me first at my website, but I most regularly hang out on Instagram.
Also, I'm @alphabetashley on all things, (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) so you can't miss me!
Craftcation is a four-day business and makers conference featuring a plethora of workshops, lectures and panels on creative business by leading mentors and makers in the creative industry.
Craftcation "ignites the entrepreneurial spirit, strengthens craft and business skills and builds relationships in the creative community." This year, Craftcation will be held April 27-30, 2017 in Ventura, California and for the first time SF Etsy will not only be there we will be hosting an Etsy Meet Up. We're making new goals for 2017, meeting other inspiring makers, getting tips about having a creative small business and we will share them all with you!
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