Every created thing has a story.
Thanks for visiting my portfolio. I'm Shelley Engstrom, a creator living in the greater Seattle area. I live with my husband, Rick, and two Boston terriers, Nora and Gracie. I hold a B.A. in Literature: English Education from Point Loma Nazarene University and an M.A. in English: Literature from California State University Sacramento, where I studied contemporary Chicana novels.* While my formal education focuses on the literary arts, I'm documenting my other creative work here in the hope that it inspires others and opens doors to exploring new possibilities for my story.
About my work
For as far back as I can remember, I've had a love for learning and what I can only describe as an insatiable energy to make things. In college and grad school I explored the literary side of this drive to learn, studying, analyzing, and writing about the stories of others. But in the past few years, my creative energy has only grown, and I've continued to feel a longing to express my own thoughts and experiences through design and craft.
While I once felt my varied creative interests were rather disjointed, what I've discovered through all of my work is a love for both the process of learning new forms of expression as well as an appreciation for the ritual of practicing and perfecting new skills.
I chose the title "Story" for my portfolio because stories tie together my creative endeavors. From writing about thoughts and experiences to sharing the background of my materials, inspiration, and intention behind my crafts, photography, and interior spaces, everything I do brings me back to telling stories. And I love how this act connects me with others.
Values and Inspiration
As each of my values below suggests, I find richness in the stories of the materials themselves as well as in sharing the process and inspiration behind the design or craft.
Thrift - I use second-hand and repurposed materials as much as possible.
I'm interested in the contexts and histories of things - to whom they belonged, how they functioned, why they were made. I tend to remember my own stories as they relate to things - where I bought something, what was going on, how it made me feel. This becomes part of that object's story, as well as my own.
Environment - I care very much about the natural world around me. Whenever possible, I use natural and repurposed materials to reduce waste. My location also very much influences my work. A southern California native, I have lived the past nine years in northern California, central Ohio, and now the Pacific Northwest. Each space has inspired me in different ways, and I've enjoyed allowing each location to lead my work in new directions.
Awareness - I do my best to pay attention to the small things, to the subtle details that tell a unique story or that draw me outside of myself. Nature most often inspires my work as it reminds me of the beauty in everyday moments.
Discovery - Creativity has become part of my connection to a larger story as I figure out what I am made to do. The process of learning new techniques, experimenting with new materials, and perfecting craftsmanship fuels me to continue creative exploration.
* For those interested, a link to my thesis.