PITTSBURG — For Natalie Jepson-Kundiger, making art has been all about the process.
This is a family philosophy which has been part of Natalie’s life since she can remember, and it continues through her as she creates her own work and passes the “process” down to her own children.
Natalie found peace creating homemade “natural” soap, weaving on looms and dancing. Her husband has even joined in, he has bees now, which they use for some of the homemade items.
When it comes to the process of doing any of these things there is science, patience and technique all wrapped up in one to make a special product people can be proud of and enjoy. The process itself is a stress reliever, she said.
It doesn’t just take a little over 30 minutes to make a batch of soap, it also takes weeks of patience as it cures and a bit of science to keep everyone safe from skin irritation.
Each liquid should be mixed at certain temperatures and measured just right. The soap can get to be over 100 degrees while setting after being mixed.
How is soap art? The answer is, aside from the particular process, the color, scent, texture and design of each soap is unique — the swirls of color are always in different places.
The rags and rugs she creates on the looms — of which she has several of different sizes — take special planning on paper, then precision and following patterns. This also takes ample patience — especially as she sets up the loom. It takes over an hour or longer to set up.
Her father — now retired — was a potter for over 40 years and her mother was a weaver and created various home goods.
“She was very hands on and do-it-yourself,” Natalie said.
Her family focused on art and creating together, step-by-step, from weaving, to canning food and other projects. Natalie said she believes this is important time to spend with children. It was more than just creating, it was learning the process by which things are made and having a moment away from stress.
“Life is very stressful,” she said. “This gives you a healthy escape.”
Art uses a different part of the brain, another healthy aspect, she said.
As a child, Natalie went to art show after art show with her father, exposing her to various artists and artwork.
When she wasn’t with her parents doing some sort of project, she was doing another form of art — dancing. Since she was five she twirled and danced, and now she teaches dance at Pittsburg State University when she isn’t working as an accountant at her family-owned realty business.
Natalie’s own children sit in her craft room and make their own works of art. Sometimes they even get to make child-friendly glycerine soap.
“These happy moments give you pleasure in life,” she said. “It also teaches kids to have these outlets — some of children don’t have.”
Natalie does sell her soaps and other homemade items on the side. She also vlogs and blogs about her experiences making them, including sharing pointers on how to do create the items.
She can be found often at the Farmers Market, ArtWalk and other seasonal events. Her booth is called Willow Tree Weaving and Creations. Her blog is at www.the5thjourney.com.