Eclectic Artsy Mom on the Street Ashley Dedin’s nature-loving and artistic lifestyle inspire her children and other families to explore their creative and independent minds. Read on to learn all about this enterprising and innovative mom.
Ashley is a mama, a maker, a web & graphic designer, and wife to a fellow creative entrepreneur. She also is a writer, a soup-maker, and someone who occasionally paints and crochets. One of her greatest joys is inspiring everyday creativity + connection through family friendly arts, crafts, nature, and exploration.
Eclectic Artsy Inspiration
Have you always enjoyed crafting, education, and the arts?
I was lucky to grow up in a really creative household with parents who encouraged my artistic interests. My mom is incredibly crafty and was always making creations for our school events, holidays, and birthdays. All of the women in my family are/were very artistic. My grandma + great grandma owned/operated a plaster shop for over 20 years where they cast all of the figurines themselves and taught people how to paint them. Creativity is truly in my blood.
Art was always my favorite subject in school, and when it came time to study in college, I chose Studio Art as one of my majors. After college, I opened a small sewing studio + storefront where I sold my upcycled accessories, it was such a wonderful chapter of my life, but after four years, I moved on to teaching art at a nonprofit that focused on youth art education. When my second child was born, I shifted gears from “hustling” as an entrepreneur and decided to pour my creativity into my kids while sharing my ideas with other parents online.
What inspired you to share your crafts, ideas, and fun activities you do with your children on Instagram?
We recently pulled my almost 4-year-old son out of preschool after realizing it wasn’t a great fit for him. He had been in daycare full-time since he was one, and we planned to send his little sister as soon as she turned 18 months too, but after some questioning/soul searching, we decided we wanted to try having both of the kids home with me and to have our own learning adventures.
I was burnt out after two years of freelance web & graphic design work and wanted to bring more art and creativity back into my days, and part of me missed the work I did developing art & craft projects for the nonprofit I worked with. Maker Nature is the perfect blend of all of my creative passions, and the best thing is that it benefits my own family (inspiring me/filling my cup, and nourishing my kids). Inspiring others is a great bonus!
What made you want to teach your child on your own time and terms?
My husband and I are both entrepreneurs, so we have an incredibly flexible schedule and lifestyle. His childhood has been flying by, and we are both painfully aware of how brief this chapter of life is. We realized how lucky we were to be able to homeschool him if we chose that path (it’s not an option for all families), so we decided to try it because it felt aligned with our desires and values, especially since he is only in preschool. Overall, we want our kids to have a rich education in play, creativity, and connection with nature.
Eclectic Artsy Projects
Where do you get inspired for craft ideas and other fun activities?
I have such a varied background in art mediums, so many of my ideas come from experience with many different approaches to art making. I had a hard time deciding what art medium I wanted to focus on in college, so I ended up trying absolutely everything. Printmaking, painting, drawing, ceramics, sculpture, digital art, you name it. Many ideas come from experimenting with the materials themselves, but I’m also a big fan of Pinterest, which has been a huge help as I’ve been integrating more educational content into our artmaking.
What are some of your favorite crafts you have done with your son and in general?
My favorite projects to do with my son are the ones where he can manage all of the steps by himself because his creativity and problem-solving skills really get to shine. He has been using watercolor paints since he was two years old and often just takes those out and uses them on his own, and I am always amazed by what he creates! I also love watercolor painting, so it’s a wonderful activity for us to share.
What are some of the best experiences for kids, and why?
I think kids thrive in experiences where they are truly free to explore and experiment. They aren’t being led or prompted to a solution but get to actively discover and create the solution themselves. Open-ended play and process art are incredible ways to strengthen skills like creativity, critical thinking, and more.
Where can people find you online/ on social media?
Eclectic Artsy Style
Which three words best describe your style?
Earthy, Artsy, Eclectic
What are your favorite places to shop?
I love supporting local businesses; my community is full of amazing stores and boutiques. My all-time favorite place to shop is a handmade heaven called Unglued- a boutique that sells handmade goods from over 200 local + regional makers. I also love to go thrift shopping – it’s honestly like my therapy! I try to stop by the thrift stores weekly if I’m able, and sometimes I find a HAUL, and other times I leave empty-handed… but I always leave a little more relaxed!
What article of clothing/accessory would you not want to live without?
I love comfy shoes. I have a few pairs of clogs that aren’t the cutest things in the world but are so comfortable that I couldn’t live without them. I also love my sweater collection; since I live in Minnesota, I get a lot of use out of all my favorite sweaters!
Which trend would you want to see make a comeback?
Maybe cell phone holders so that people would have their phones put away more often Or, better yet… beepers so we’d know if something urgent needed our attention, but otherwise, we’d be living more in the moment.
What should NEVER make a comeback?
Layering shirts? There were some weird things happening in the 2000s, and I remember many unnecessary clothes layering… like two tank tops? No thanks.
What fashion/style did you love at the time but now cringe when you see old photos?
In high school, I was pretty emo (thanks, early 2000s), and I look back on some of those times.
What’s your best style secret?
Find clothes that make you feel like yourself that you feel comfortable in and beautiful, and then buy them in several colors. I’m all about simplicity when it comes to what I wear. I love the summertime because it means I can throw on a dress, I also love a good jumpsuit/romper, and I also love being able to wear cozy sweaters in our cold midwestern winters.
Also, go thrifting! 90% of my wardrobe is from a thrift store, and the shops around my area always have a great mix of brand new clothes (mostly from Target, by the way) and gently used secondhand items. I love when I get a compliment on my outfit, and I can proudly say, “I got it from a thrift shop!”
Stilettos or flats?
I think I am barefoot 75% of the time, so I definitely flats. Comfy shoes are an absolute must for me – between running around after my kiddos and spending a lot of time outdoors, I just have to have something comfortable on my feet! For dressing up, I’m a wedges kind of gal!
Eclectic Artsy Family
What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family?
We just took an impromptu trip to Minneapolis this week (completely last minute and unplanned). I’d say that those kinds of adventures are my favorite because the “vacation” pressure is low/nonexistent, but you still get the benefits of exploring a new place and getting out of the daily grind. I love exploring new places with my family, and we go on local adventures and discover new things in our own city every week, but sometimes it’s nice to “get away”!
What’s been your best family vacation?
We took a really nice trip to Montana in the summer of 2020, and after being stuck inside for those first 5-6 months of the pandemic, it was so nice to get out. We did some camping and visited my sister-in-law at her gorgeous cabin.
Best parenting advice:
Trust your instincts and know that you are enough. It’s so easy in today’s world to be influenced by outside sources when it comes to parenting, to think that you *need* or *should* be doing this or that, but YOU know what is best for your family… even if your truth doesn’t look like everyone else’s. I also love the quote, “The days are long, but the years are short.” It’s something I think about on both the good days AND the bad days of parenting.
Parenting true confession:
I struggled with a lot of anger and even rage during my postpartum period with my daughter. Nobody ever talks about this very real part of being a mother/parent, so I felt a lot of guilt about it. When I started opening up with other mom friends about this feeling, I realized how common it was to just feel so completely overwhelmed that you think you might explode.
I eventually realized it was a symptom of undiagnosed postpartum anxiety and discovered some of my personal triggers like lack of sleep, hunger, loud noises, and overstimulation. Once I realized the situations that caused my nervous system to feel dysregulated, I could take better care of myself!
What’s your go-to family dinner?
Charcuterie boards. If you are struggling to get your toddler to try new foods (or to just eat dinner, lol), try putting a bunch of random little snacks on a big plate. We happen to have a lot of charcuterie boards because my husband’s company makes them, but you don’t need a fancy piece of wood! It’s a great low/no-prep way to eat dinner, and the kids have a lot of fun with it!
What’s your favorite family restaurant?
There’s a local place called Bernbaums that we really love. They are a mix of Jewish deli/Scandinavian-inspired small plates. We love their bagel plates!
Eclectic Artsy Life
What’s your favorite show to binge-watch?
Basically, anything on PBS. My husband and I just binge-watched the first five seasons of Downton Abbey (late to the party, we know).
If you could pick anyone to star as you in a movie based on your life, who would it be?
I would probably choose my fellow redhead, Amy Adams. She can be both super funny and also very serious, which are both big parts of my personality.
What’s your favorite beach read?
I think the beach calls for light reading, so I’d say I’d either be reading something funny like “I’ll Show Myself Out” by Jessi Klein or a book filled with art/craft ideas.
What song would you dance to when nobody’s watching?
We have a great dance playlist going at our house, and some mornings a big dance party is our family exercise. My son loves Lizzo and thinks one of her most recent hits is “It’s About Damn Time”!
If you could go shopping with anyone from history, living or deceased, who would it be?
That is such a tough question! I do know that I’d want to go thrift shopping since that is one of my favorite pastimes, but I’m not sure who I’d want to bring along. Definitely an artist, poet, or inventor.
What’s at the top of your travel bucket list?
I would love to see the Redwoods! My husband is a major “tree guy,” and we joke that we are a family of tree-huggers. He owns a reclaimed & urban salvaged lumber company, and his dad was a city forester. Even though we basically live in the woods, my husband has already planted more than 20 trees in our yard, and I’ve just always been amazed by the redwoods! It would be an incredible family vacation.
What’s your favorite way to unwind at the end of a long day?
I LOVE a nice hot bath, complete with snacks and bubbles and maybe even a bath bomb. When we built our forever home last summer, my bathroom was the very first thing that I designed. Taking a good bath is the easiest way to reset for me, and I’m so glad I have a place to be able to do that!
We love the eclectic, artsy way that Ashley lives her life. Her creative spirit and love for her family shine through her whimsical crafts that are perfect for any kid wanting a creative outlet with a natural touch. Be sure to follow Ashley on Instagram @maker.nature to keep up with more fun crafts, activities, and her artistic lifestyle!
And for more interesting and inspiring moms, check out FamilyApp’s Mom on the Street page!