Looking at weaver Amber Leask-Sebree’s woven wall hangings is like looking at the many colours of the rainbow. And just like how rainbows represent hope and promise to many, weaving has became Amber’s fresh beginning when things didn’t turn out right for her degree pursue in Fine Arts and Fashion Design. With a simple ambition to create her own woven wall piece for her new home, Amber started experimenting and creating more pieces, which soon became a full-time business for her. Now, Amber creates and sells her vibrant woven tapestries on her online store, Whisker Woven (with the accompany of her 4 cats). We had a chat with this cat lady and talented weaver on her journey towards being a full-time maker and more.
5 things about Amber Leask-Sebree…
Early riser or night owl… Night owl. I wish I could be an early riser, but I can’t shut my brain off at night to fall asleep at a decent hour.
A song to get you into the creative groove… Any Purity Ring’s song always does the trick.
What did you aspire to be when you were 5… Probably a fashion designer or any type of artist.
3 essentials we can find in your bag… Tissues, iPhone, wallet.
If you weren't a weaver, you would most probably be doing… I’m not sure, I hope I would still be doing something creative.
1. Tell us about your background and what led to you choosing weaving as a craft.
I was an artsy craftsy kid growing up in Canada. I tried pursuing a Fine Arts degree as well as Fashion Design, but I lost the spark for it. After moving to the US, I was searching for home decor ideas on Instagram and Pinterest when I came across woven wall hangings. I loved the idea of textured wall art, but I’m very picky in choosing own house decor so I decided to attempt to make one myself. My first woven pieces weren’t turning out how I envisioned, so I signed up for a weaving workshop with Rachel Denbow of Smile and Wave. After the lesson and having better tools, my weavings finally started looking how I wanted. I loved working with fiber and creating textiles that were not apparel. I disliked pattern grading and sewing back in my fashion days. Weaving was a perfect match for me because I love the process as much as the finished product.
2. What made you want to take your passion to the next level?
My dream job has always been to have a small creative business so it was a bit of a natural progression for me. After weaving for over a year (and having a bit of a neglected Etsy store) I decided to take it seriously as a business mostly so I could have the opportunity to weave more. And also to be able to invest in materials. Yarn & fiber can be very expensive! If I wasn’t making sales, I wasn’t able to put money towards more supplies to experiment with. During the first couple months of making constant sales, I was creating new designs and ordering new materials to play around with nearly every day.
3. Tell us more about Whisker Woven.
All Whisker Woven’s wall hangings are handwoven by me in my home studio. I have 4 cats and they are important part of my life so I wanted to include that in my fiber art business. Weaving wasn’t as mainstream when I chose my business name, so back then I had a few people ask me if they were toys for cats to paw at! While I suppose they associate cats playing with a ball of yarn, mine surprising don’t actually do that! You can normally find at least one cat (if not all 4) near me while I’m at my loom.
My wall hangings are woven in distinct color combinations of geometric shapes contrasted with soft textures. I also like to design abstract landscape or weather themes and add other natural textures like driftwood & crystals.
4. What kind of materials do you like to work with?
My favorite and most used materials are wool or wool blend chunky weight yarns and merino wool roving. More recently, I have been using cotton rope as well and I’m loving incorporating it in my work. The most important part of the fibers for me is color. I look for bright, vibrant colors. Especially hand-dyed! I use a lot of unique driftwood sticks to hang my weavings. And for small details, I like adding a crystal or natural stones and/or metallic embroidery threads.
5. What is your favourite piece of finished product and what inspired you to create it?
My current favourite is the first piece I added a tiny fiber rainbow to! I had been seeing the rope rainbows on Instagram for a while and kept the idea at the back of my mind. I finally sat down in front of my loom and created a wall hanging with a rainbow that still felt in line with Whisker Woven’s design style.
6. How is the yarn scene like in Oklahoma?
In the few years I’ve lived here in Oklahoma, two yarn stores have closed unfortunately! I have gotten my hands on some gorgeous hand dyed fiber by a local indie dyer. Other than that my local experience here has been limited.
7. Is there any interesting or particularly memorable/interesting moment in your career as a professional maker?
Maybe my first sale on Etsy or the first time I was trusted with a large scale commission based on my smaller work. Or realizing that I have around the same amount of Instagram followers as quite a few fiber artists I admire!
8. Advice for those wanting to make the switch into crafting full time?
Make sure you take the time to experiment tons to find your own unique style! That has been the #1 most helpful thing for me along with posting on social media every day.
Photo Credits: Amber Leask-Sebree