Featured Artist: Amber Churchill of Designs by Amber
Publisher’s Note: This week we have a wonderfully multifaceted artist with us. Amber Churchill of Designs by Amber is a talented and popular jewelry designer who’s been bitten by the fiber bug and now she just can’t get enough! Amber shares her story of jewelry success and how spinning, dyeing, and felting has changed her outlook on art forever.
Spin Artiste (SA): So, you’re a jeweler-gone-fiber-fanatic! Tell us about what brought you into the fiber world.
Amber Churchill (AC): Felting was my gateway drug which led to me dying my own roving, buying a drop spindle and then a wheel.
SA: I know how that is. It doesn’t take long to become a fiber addict! How has your working with jewelry
AC: It works it’s way in often. Recently I have been making felted agate necklaces and yarn with semi precious stones and charms. I also make lariats and necklace scarves. It all seems to inter-mingle. I pose most yarns on a mannequin and see them as jewelery really.
SA: Your hand spun yarns are so beautifully whimsical and almost kaleidoscopic. How would you describe your spinning style?
AC: Hmm…I don’t know how to define it but I do know it will always be big and chunky and colourful. I don’t think about it. I just do it. If it is forced it usually sucks. That’s why I don’t do custom orders.
SA: I like the organic way in which you pursue your art. It’s like it flows right out of you! Being newer to the fiber world, which aspect of fiber art do you most enjoy?
AC: Well…dying it, blending it & spinning it. I love to steam my “precious” when I am done so I can watch her bloom. Oh, oh and I like knitting it and crocheting it and wearing it! I love it all! It is my crack. Most of all, I love to see my little girl loving it too.
SA: It is so great to hear your little girl is as excited about fiber as much as you are. I love the way you’ve added ribbons and lace to some of your art yarns. What has been your favorite material to add to your fibers?
AC: Lace, fabric, raw curly wool, all types of silk and SPARKLES galore!
SA: Designs by Amber has been very successful, and your jewelry has been featured in magazines and worn by celebrities. How does it feel to see your designs on movie stars and models?
AC: It feels friggin’ awesome, Arlene — awesome, indeed. I love seeing it on the screen and in print. I also love seeing it on a stranger. I do not however, enjoy seeing my necklace walk by wearing a pair of really bad floral pants, it hurts.
SA: No! Someone wouldn’t dare… How has your company changed since the addition of your fiber pieces?
AC: Well, I pretty much only make jewellery if I have to and have cut out a lot of my beaded work. I don’t wanna do that! I just wanna spin!
SA: Don’t we all! I noticed your yarn colors are bright and vibrant. What has influenced
AC: I don’t know what influences my colour pallet but I know I have strong dislikes for most of shades of colour and am incredibly picky. I won’t spin a colour I don’t like. It just doesn’t feel good. Working with colour is therapy for me. I have to have walls in my house painted bold bright colours. I am OCD about colour (that’s how we spell colour in canada, eh!)
SA: Tell us about your studio.
AC: My studio had always been out of my house and I have lived in many houses. At one point I lived in tiny cabins in the woods and had a trailor full of bins o’crafts. now my studio is in my big ol’farm house. I dye in the kitchen and have my studio upstairs.
SA: I hear you recently got a new wheel. What can you tell us about it?
AC: It is an Ashford Country Spinner II. It is amazing. I am in big bobbin heaven. My hubby stained it purple for me and I love him for it.
SA: The Country Spinner II — great choice and I love the color purple! Where do you see your fiber work and business in the next 5 years?
AC: I see me sending my kids to school and having a full work day again! My kids are 3 & 11 months old, stage 5 clingers and so darn tootin’ cute!! It’s a challenge getting enough work hours in. I would like to remain working in a home-based business. I just want to make lovely things and ship them off to boutiques or sell them on my website or etsy shop. I had a boutique before and it was fun. However, that is a full time job unto itself and I’d rather have a crafternoon.
I have recently started selling mores supplies and stocking up yarn shops and see myself doing more of that. It’s difficult for me to sell my supplies though. I am such a supply piggy! I have no problem selling finished products as long as I get to work with the yarn. I have to fight off a panic attack or a tantrum when I leave all my pretties at the yarn shop! Ha ha!
SA: You are too funny Amber! I hope you can learn to walk away from your “pretties”, and that your business continues to be a success. Your two little “fiber babies” (children) are so cute! What was the last thing you knitted up for them?
AC: Lately my daughter is just keeping lots of stock. She calls it “stealin’ the merch”! She scored two hats and a scarflette last week alone! My boy won’t wear a hat yet. I’m hoping the cold weather will change his mind. My husband’s signature look is giant pom pom hats and chunky cowls and huge sunglasses. We are not wallflowers, yo.
SA: Well, it has been so great speaking with you today. You have such a bright and fun personality– you could definitely be a movie star. If you could have been the star of any movie what would it be and who would you play?
SA: Thank you so much, Amber!