In this series we have been sharing stories about the people and places where The Handwork Studio team members find inspiration for their craft. In order to expand our community we will explore the different ways that people got their start in sewing, knitting, and other needlework crafts. This series explores the art that goes behind this craft and understanding the sources of inspiration for different people, and this week will be introducing you to Ana Castro!
When asking studio administrator Ana Castro about the moment she caught the crafting bug, she paused for a moment, and attempted to trace herself back to that singular moment. After lingering over the thought, she responded, “Well, I never wanted to be anything other than an artist,” which truly speaks to the meaningful way in which Ana has viewed the journey of her craft throughout her entire life. Some people can pinpoint an exact moment when they were taught a certain craft, or maybe trace it back to a certain person, but for Ana, it seems that creativity has been at the forefront of her life from the very beginning.
Ana has always been surrounded by creativity, and a lot of her inspiration today comes from her Costa Rican background. The colors and textiles that come from that area really inspire a lot of her work, and she loves to infuse the styles of their traditional interior design into the pieces she creates. Along with her Costa Rican background, Ana also finds a lot of inspiration, especially when it comes to her color palate, from the style of the 90’s and the different toys she had when she was growing up. So, while one side of her pulls her towards the image of the traditional Central America home, another brings her towards her childhood in the states.
Growing up, Ana said she spent a lot of time by herself, therefore finding imaginative ways to express herself. “I’m an introvert, and you know a lot of people wouldn’t realize that when they meet me,” said Ana. A lot of her work is then inspired by the kinds of activities she did when she was younger, while discovering who she was. Most of her work is inspired by the body, and by movement and dance specifically. She says that a lot of her pieces mimic this sort of fluffy and plump feeling. Although never fully realizing it, Ana sees now how her childhood has found its way naturally into her work today.
Another part of who inspired Ana’s creativity growing up were her parents. Both of her parents are chefs, and she said that seeing them be creative helped foster creativity within herself. “They were so resourceful, and everything had to be made a certain way,” mentioned Ana, and it was the ways in which they always thought outside of the box which allowed her to think that her career as an artist could be what it is today.
Ana got her degree in crafts from University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 2014, where she fell in love with the entire creation process. During a critique for one of her earlier pieces, she realized that the work she creates has more meaning than just its materials. “I found that everything has a connotation whether you want it to or not. That was an inspiring moment and I chose to pursue that kind of craft after that point.” Then after University, Ana was drawn to the vision of The Handwork Studio, saying “I thought it was really lovely that they were expanding the audience [for needle arts] and that they were fostering a community.”
Now, Ana embraces the meditative practice of her craft and loves being able to pass on these fiber arts techniques to kids today. “The projects they make become a part of their life in a much different way than store bought toys. We give kids the autonomy to pick every single part of their piece out, and that way they will value it so much more highly,” she said. By giving kids the opportunity to make these crafts a part of their life, Ana believes that more and more kids will be able to find ways of expressing themselves in the creative ways she did growing up.