Hi! My name is Naomi, and I’m the owner of Sunstone Clay Co. Growing up, my parents actively signed my siblings and I up for different school clubs, after-school activities and summer camps. Though I lost interest in many of these activities as I grew older, I’ll always remember how much fun I had in the art camps.
When I entered high school, my extracurriculars centered more around academics and service-driven programs. I didn’t think anything of this shift, and it wasn’t until senior year of high school that I started to regret not including more creative activities. I remember sitting in a math class, eagerly awaiting the end of my high school career, and watching one of my friends knit a scarf, and thinking to myself, “I want to try!” So I tried.
I loved the challenge, feeling of accomplishment and instant gratification that came from figuring out the various stitches, and finishing a scarf. This kick-started my interest in what I called crafting - needle arts, paper cutting, and sewing; I didn't stop there though.
Having grown up as the oldest girl in a family of six children, I learned quickly that my job was a caretaker. I took the role seriously, even extending it to my faith community where I volunteered in many different roles. I felt drawn to my positions, but I also struggled a lot. I saw suffering all around me, but I wasn’t sure how to process what I was seeing and feeling emotionally. I found solace and understanding in looking up quotes and sayings online. Where I wasn’t able to put words to my feelings, I found others (authors, screenwriters, musicians, poets, philosophers, etc.) who were able to eloquently express what I could not. This practice helped me to get my emotions moving, so I wasn’t stuck.
In 2013, I found myself in graduate school studying to become a therapist. I loved that my program required us to explore different avenues of therapy besides only talking. I was also interested in art therapy, but I always saw it as an intimidating thing that required lots of skill I didn’t have. Luckily I was matched to an art therapist when we had to practice on each other. She expanded my perception by explaining art has no precise goal or way to express. Each session she brought different art supplies and asked me to do whatever I wanted. Since I had no confidence in drawing or sketching recognizable things, I started off picking colors that appealed to me in that moment, and simply made shapes or swatches of colors. While I was getting used to the supplies, we would talk about different things and I was shocked to see how naturally each topic seemed to change what I was doing on the paper. If we spoke about heavy things, for example, my inclination was to use darker colors; if we spoke about things that evoked love, my colors would shift to pinks and reds naturally. She taught me that art is an expression of the moment, and how that expression is laid out is totally up to me. I would leave my sessions feeling more understanding of how my inner world worked, and having art to channel that in a visual way changed my world!
I was so shocked that art was actually more boundless than I ever imagined! I bought my first set of Crayola watercolors and would spend time at my friend’s house where we’d paint and talk. Soon after, I got into the Instagram world and came across different calligrapher accounts. I was mesmerized! Here were people doing exactly what I’ve done a large part of my life - collecting and sharing words that moved, and yet going a step further and incorporating different fonts, colors, shapes, and images. I was also surprised how changing each of these things also seemed to change the feeling of the quote - Wow! Having a new sense of confidence from learning that art can be many things, I knew I wanted to try calligraphy. I bought a learn calligraphy book and have never looked back.
Over the years I've added more to my repertoire. My time in Oregon lead me to wood signs and alcohol ink, which I still attempt when I have a request for it. Then in 2021 I was diagnosed with Stage IV Leiomyosarcoma cancer. The combination of spinal surgery and chemotherapy left me with the challenge of learning how to care for a new version of my body. During this time my usual form of art was of little interest to me, as I had little stamina to invest all the time and strength it took to create in those ways. About eight months after my diagnosis, I discovered the world of polymer clay and my world was reignited in a good way! Finally after a year of trying to heal, I found something that started to heal me on the soul level. When most days prior I fought to find the energy to get out of bed, after diving into polymer clay, I woke up excited to get up and try new ideas.
So as you can see there are so many types of ways to create! I truly enjoy spending my free time exploring art; it helps me come back home to myself after stressful or overstimulating days, and time seems to race by in the blink of an eye while I'm working on a project. I also love the idea of adding happiness and beauty into the world, wether it's an eye-catching magnet on someone's refrigerator, an "Our Happy Place" sign to welcome a family home, or a piece of jewelry that follows someone along throughout their day - from my perspective, the world will never have enough to go around.
Thank you for visiting my little corner of the internet. I truly hope you find a bit of soul-soothing time here with me, and that I've inspired you to go out an find your own ways to create!