Oh Creative Lady: Meet Amanda from barley and birch

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Amanda from barley and birch

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

It has taken me way longer than usual to organise this Oh Creative Lady post from Amanda of barley & birch. Mainly because throughout this interview, Amanda recommends so many interesting and ace things that I became very distracted (Google the Christmas cards of Hilma Berglund! Subscribe to the Making Oprah podcast! Check out Smudge!)
Amanda’s suggestions, her words and her insights into her life all confirm something I’ve suspected for awhile now- Amanda is one insanely rad lady.
In the grand scheme of online FanGirl relationships, we haven’t been InstaBuds for that long. But y’know when you come across somebody online and you think “how has this person not been in my life for longer?!” Well, that.
(You may recall we recently celebrated 80s Week together.)
Enough with the gushing. Introducing the very fabulous Amanda.

Oh Creative Lady barley and birch

I am… Amanda Eldridge, hi! I run barley & birch & put together small modern art collections by day, just started teaching creative workshops for kids & families by night, and quietly tinker with various side projects in the background.

Currently, I live in the Midwest with my very large, extremely huggable Golden Retriever, Thor. I love traveling and LOVE (in caps!) moving to new places, so also enjoy living fairly simply. When I picture my perfect life I have a 1988 Jeep Wagoneer, a rehabbed trailer, my dog, art supplies, and a camera – and we just motor from place to place around the US. I’m skeptical this would actually go at all well in real life, but I love daydreaming about it!

I’ve lived in NYC, Chicago, Cleveland and San Diego, and Southern California will always be one of my favorite places – a big part of my spirit is forever a California girl! I love being outside, especially being near (or in!) the water, and take every chance I can to get out and play. I’ve tried my hand at quite a few different professions – reinvention is one of my favorite things! I love experimenting with all different kinds of art mediums and am outrageously jealous of the abilities of good illustrators, but am trying to practice more. I’m a digital and visual tinkerer, I can easily spend a day playing around on my computer editing designs, figuring out some little trick in a program, or moving 2 pieces of paper around to determine how they’re going to look best together.

Laughter is my own best medicine and I love making other people laugh. I’m a movie buff (new and old), a habitual Bette Davis quoter, and armchair singer/dancer during musicals. I’m an extroverted introvert, so love being with people, but need my alone time and privacy on the regular. Revealing anything about myself on social media still feels very, “ohhhh gaaahhhhd”- it’s been a challenge, but I’m slloooowly wading in…!

Oh creative Lady barley and birch
I find inspiration…
Anywhere and everywhere. All the classics: nature, art, books, working with kids. Those are the big ones. Some *extremely* specific things I’ve found inspiration in lately, just for fun: The podcast Making Oprah (and *actual* early ’90’s Oprah) Jim Henson, the Christmas cards of Hilma Berglund (google them!) the artwork I made when I was little, the designs and illustrations of Olle Eksel.

I’ve been really into learning more about creating art materials from nature this year, and I’ve found amazing inspiration in the IG feed of The Toronto Ink Company – the colors, the textures, the layers – don’t even get me started. I also subscribed to some monthly newspapers and zines from small independent presses this year – one called the Smudge has become the highlight of my mail and is absolutely jam-packed with things I pull ideas from.

Another hobby (or…maybe more accurately a hobby I like to daydream about) is film-making and animation. You’re either a Wes Anderson fan or you’re not, and I AM. There are so many scrumptious details in Anderson’s style, aesthetic and process that have given me ideas for kid-related projects or concepts. Instagram is also just an endless fountain of inspiration for me – everyday I find a new person to follow or see something that I HAVE to save.

I am excited about … So many things! In addition to my art work and planning some new things for barley & birch, I’m also teaching some very small family creativity workshops. This is my first time teaching kids, and I’m still slightly terrified before every class, but as soon as we start working on something that melts away, and we’re all just making something together. That’s exciting to me.

I’m also thrilled about the new people I’m meeting through barley & birch! For anyone who works from home, I think the lack of physically-present work peers can be a challenge in that it sometimes feels lonely and isolating. Every time I make a connection through b&b’s social medias I have the sense that I’ve gained another “coworker” and I find myself buoyed by the community (so many of you!) almost every day.

Oh creative Lady barley and birchWhen I’m in a creative slump, I… On a good day, I take my dog for a walk or bike around for awhile. We tend to walk the same routes, and I’ve resisted succumbing to the boredom of it by becoming a stellar observationist. Doing anything over and over and over again is a great way to learn to appreciate the smallest of things! I think it’s also helped my brain to stay on its toes, observe everything, appreciate sensory changes and practice the ability of seeing one thing in a variety of ways. It’s also just refreshing to walk away for a bit!

Of course, those are the good days – on a bad day I pound coffee and lose myself online, or just give up and stream Mad Men for hours at a time.
For what it’s worth, I think days like that have their place too.

I’m really proud of… To say I’m a commitment-phobe is probably an understatement, so when I stay committed to anything for more than 2 hours I am more proud of it than I deserve to be. I have worked really hard to stay committed to barley & birch, finding helpful purpose in what I do and using my imagination every day. All three require the others to function successfully as a whole – that’s been a magic combination for me, so I’m MOST proud I never gave up on finding it.

Someone once told me… One of my favorite books as a kid was Miss Rumphius – if you haven’t read it, the main character is advised to “go to faraway places, live by the sea and do something to make the world more beautiful,” and that’s hands-down some of the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Another important one for me was being told to “sit down and do the work”. As a lifelong serial procrastinator, I’ve spent quite a bit of my adulthood working at “doing the work”. More good advice: listen and observe as often as you do anything else.

My grandma would say we should all lay out in the sun more, and to be completely honest, I think that’s rock-solid wisdom!

My advice to you is … Come at life with as much informed optimism as you can. It’s under-valued, under-appreciated and often the hardest choice. People have a tendency to write it off as silliness, naiveté, or even willing-ignorance, but the truth is that it’s hard work that’s totally worth it and always ten times more productive.

Oh Creative Lady barley and birch

You can find me at …

barley & birch

Instagram

Pinterest

Facebook

Twitter

Or just say hi! Send me your hellos at amanda@barleyandbirch.com

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Mary Alice from Brainy Beginnings Network

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Mary Alice from Brainy Beginnings Network

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Mary Alice revealed her love of connecting, collaborating and community during an Instagram conversation, and at that moment, I knew she was my kinda creative lady. We’ve also had several hilarious exchanges about this season’s Game of Thrones (and that will always earn you extra points in my books.) Mary Alice is the brains behind Brainy Beginnings Network, a place filled with insanely rad creative ideas. All of her projects have this magical and unique twist to them. It was most excellent to get a peek into the brain of this genius! Introducing Mary Alice!

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Oh Creative Lady: Meet Cara from Raising Kinley

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Cara from Raising Kinley

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

I’d be stoked if this Creative Lady taught my littles. Cara shares the colourful homeschooling adventures she creates for her daughter, Kinley. I’m pretty sure I’ve asked (on several occasions) if I could come and hang out in their schoolroom. Cara’s enthusiasm and passion for creating fun and engaging learning experiences is awe-inspiring. (Her Nana also sounds like a rock star too. Make sure you read on to hear Nana’s advice.) Not only would I love for Cara to teach my children, but I’d want her to be in my Mother’s Group. She is supportive, hilarious and full of joy. Okay all this gushing is getting embarrassing. Introducing Cara. (more…)

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Shelly from Creating Creatives

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Shelly from Creating Creatives

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

I love a good Leap-of-Faith story. I also love a good Motherhood-Changed-Me-Forever-and-so-I-Took-a-Leap-of-Faith story. If you do too, then you’re going to love reading about this Oh Creative Lady.
Shelly is the Head Creative behind Creating Creatives, an insanely rad site for ideas on raising artsy and craftsy small humans. We first met on Instagram where we bonded over music, colour, British vs American English and the antics of her hilarious and adorable daughter. Shelly also happens to be just a wonderfully lovely and supportive human. Although I’ll overlook the whole Marmite-loving thing. #Vegemiteforever

It’s a pleasure to introduce, Shelly.

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Oh Creative Lady: Meet Chérie Arnegård from CheriEbooks

Oh Creative Lady: Meet Chérie Arnegård from CheriEbooks

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

Hej! Today’s Creative Lady hails from Sweden via The Cotswolds. Cherie’s Instagram feed often takes my breath away. It is infused with thoughtful captions, calming images and gives me a serious wanderlust. Cherie creates multi-touch eBooks… what are these, you ask? Read on and let the lady herself explain. Grab a cuppa and settle in- Cherie has many wise words to share.

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Oh Creative Lady: Meet author, Kat Patrick

Oh Creative Lady: Meet author, Kat Patrick

Oh Creative Lady - Oh Creative Day

Through blogging and Instagramming, I’ve been introduced to an amazing Virtual Sisterhood of Creative Ladies.

The Oh Creative Lady series is your chance to meet these incredible, kind-hearted, inspiring <insert ALL the happy, positive adjectives HERE> women.

I’m always in awe of people who birth Book Babies. I want to be one of those people.
Today’s Creative Lady, Kat Patrick, has birthed a hilarious feline Book Baby upon whom she has bestowed the name Doodle Cat.
Doodle Cat struts his stuff, doing his own thing in an irreverent but most endearing way.
He is a dude.

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