Amber King Bounds of Little King Art is one of Charlotte's (and NC's) leading Textile Workshop Facilitators. We asked her some questions about her biz and she didn't disappoint with some beautiful and honest answers!
What's your background?
Born in Georgetown, SC (it's a cute little fishing town between Myrtle Beach and Charleston). I grew up in Raleigh and dabbled into art for a while and surrounded myself with other artists and musicians (which is how I met my now husband). I didn't really study art until I moved to Charlotte when my husband got a job here. I majored in Art (with a focus in painting) at UNC Charlotte and minored in Art History. Fun fact: I'm a first generation college graduate and got my degree when I turned 30! After college, I had aspirations of working in an art museum and being a painter. I sold paintings here and there and worked at the Dean & Deluca uptown. One of my former professors, Deborah Wall, came in and she is the one who nudged me in the direction of being a teacher. For the longest time, I didn't think teaching was for me. I'm not sure what changed, but I knew I wanted a "real job" that was in a creative field, so I went back to grad school and received my Graduate Certificate in Art Education. During that time, I waited tables a Luna's Living Kitchen (now Living Kitchen) and learned so much about running a business by watching the founder, Juliana Luna. When I got close to graduating, I started teaching painting to adults at one of those paint and sip studios to get more teaching experience. That's where I first discovered I loved teaching adults. In general, had the best experience studying Art Education and surrounding myself with so many creatives. My mentor, Natalie Friedl, just got named Art Teacher of the Year by the National Art Education Association, so I feel pretty lucky that I got to study under her! After grad school, I landed a good job as an elementary art teacher at Cabarrus Charter Academy and started planning on having a baby. I figured I would work there forever...
How did that lead you to start your business?
Fast forward a little later and I had my son and my whole world flipped upside down (in a good way)! I didn't know it until months later, but I was suffering from postpartum depression and anxiety. When I went back to work, I struggled with pumping around my packed schedule and my crazy hormones. I had a nice little support group from most of the staff, but I was in a very, very dark place. I wanted to walk out of my job so many times because the thought of not being with my son crushed my soul. It's weird writing it about now, but that darkness pushed me to make some plans to leave. After lots of talking and planning, my husband and I decided I'd finish out the school year and start my own business. Initially, I thought I wanted to teach kids, but I quickly discovered that adults need a space to create, even if it's just for a few hours. I love teaching kids, of course, but I LOVE watching adults break through those creative barriers and make something they can take home with them.
What kind of art workshops do you offer?
I currently teach macrame, hand knitting, arm knitting and weaving.
The blanket workshop is so popular! Why do you think people are frenzying to make the chunky blankets?
I remember the first time I saw a video on how to make a chunky blanket without needles. I thought it looked cool, but kinda forgot about it. My college bud and art teacher friend, Jessica Abee, suggested I try making a blanket and teaching it. She sent me a different video and gave me yarn suggestions and tips. I figured if she thought I could do it, then I probably could. As an art teacher, you are always teaching yourself how to do things so you can teach your students. Little did I know how big this workshop would blow up! So why is it so popular?! I think it's the combo of not needing any needles (I'm still learning how to use those things!) and you get to use soft and fluffy yarn. Who doesn't love soft and fluffy things?! The fact that we can all sit down and make a blanket using only our hands in a few hours still blows my mind. I also think there is something comforting and nostalgic about working with textiles. It's an art form that so many of our ancestors worked with and I love that it's coming back (meanwhile all of our grandmothers are shouting "it never left!".
Why do you think people need to take a break and make art from time to time?
This is my favorite question!!! Creating is so important. It's scientifically proven to reduce stress, it enhances your problem solving skills, helps you focus, relieves depression, etc. etc. You don't have to be an artist by trade to create. You don't have to be "crafty". We were all born to create, we just sort of lose it as we get older. Coming to a Little King Art workshop allows you to take a break from your crazy life and just create. I literally walk you through every step, so no pressure to have previous knowledge on what we are studying. Plus, how rewarding is it to walk away with a complete project and new skill?!
Want to get to know Amber better? Check out one of her upcoming workshops! She'll be teaching us how to make chunky blankets on November 14th! You can go ahead and get your ticket here. WE WILL SELL OUT!
ALL UPCOMING DATES
Wednesday. November 14th from 6:30 to 9:30pm
Wednesday, December 5th from 6:30 to 9:30pm
Wednesday, December 19th from 6:30 to 9:30pm