Visual Display Artist, owner of Beadbadwolf and mum of two, Cheryl Tan talks to us about how important family and crafting is to her and how the two intertwine...
We’re big fans of all things crafty and fun, and nothing beats the joy of creating something with your own two hands (see: baby). So when we found Cheryl Tan’s Instagram page, Beadbadwolf, we were absolutely squealing with delight. Step into her Instagram page and you’ll see an explosion of bright colours, from her embroidery craft projects to her cute outfits, cuter kids and far-flung travel destinations like Amsterdam and Paris. We just had to have a chat to find out all about her Singapore-inspired craft projects, her kids and her future plans…
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Cheryl, a NAFA fashion design graduate, Visual Display Artist by day and also a mom-of-two (24/7, day and night). Crafting has always been a huge passion of mine. It was sparked at a young age by my beloved grandma and can be traced back to my great grandmother’s Peranakan roots. Majoring in design has led me to continuously explore and experiment with different mediums such as embroidery, weaving, graphic design and crafts of all sorts. And this is the inspiration pillar driving my corporate career as well as my personal craftwork under Beadbadwolf.
Tell us about your kids
I have a four year old daughter, Emery and a two year old son, Everest. Both of them have so much energy and they do everything with so much passion, from eating cereal to hiding under coffee tables, and fighting over toys. They have an amazing drive for everything they do everyday and that really inspires me. They are basically the apple/mountain of my life.
What does family mean to you?
Family means everything to me. It is like a tapestry, that starts out with us being the foundation yarns, and is slowly woven and built up string by string, day after day. And with kids, your tapestry turns so very colourful and every weave only creates a tighter bond. The journey is a lifelong process of learning, loving, protecting and growing, that’s what family is about.
How have your kids inspired you?
My kids were obsessed with outer space a while back to a point where I got “sew” into it as well. My first embroidery series, “The Space Series” was sparked by a month of having space songs on repeat, thanks to my kids. And it’s set the style of Beadbadwolf – embroidery with a little bead of imagination.
Why did you start Beadbadwolf?
Beadbadwolf came about because I wanted to create a platform for my embroidery craft and share stories through my works. I loved everything about embroidery, and had the idea to use it to tell my kids stories and then I thought, “Why not share these stories with others too?”. Like a “craftventure” of sorts.
I was later approached to conduct embroidery workshops, which I am really glad to have ventured into. Craft has always been a huge part of my life, and I’m excited to share my craft skills with the community, and also spread the love for craft with people from all walks of life. Since then, my embroidery workshops have expanded to include workshops on weaving, painting and DIY-crafts, with more to come!
Crafting requires a lot of patience, how do you manage your projects with two kids?
Craft is something that is practically weaved into my life. When I’m back home from work with the kids, I sometimes sew/weave while they play, and at times we all sit down and make things together! We paint, draw or the kids simply play with my materials. My daughter loves playing with my extensive bead collection and my son loves to mess up my yarns! And when they’re asleep, I sometimes stay up to complete craft projects.
Where’s your favourite place to travel? Do you sew on the go?
Paris is my favourite urban city because of its rich history and amazing museums. And for an all-out natural landscape, my favourite would be Iceland. I do sew on the go! On public transport, on the airplane and even on the streets, sometimes! That’s one reason why I love embroidery, it is very mobile!
You’ve created so many amazing pieces, what’s your favourite and why?
My favourite would be “The Off-Duty Merlion Series”, it’s a series of imaginative stories depicting what the Merlion does on her days off. She would dream of being a mermaid, or going on a holiday in Hawaii, or simply enjoying a birthday party. The possibilities are endless, and my kids love hearing stories about them! Also, the series was recently exhibited in Art Fair Fukuoka and Art Gwangju 2019 in Korea, and it is a joy to bring a local icon like the Merlion, overseas to spark interest in our culture.
Do you have any advice for first-time mums that you wish you had known?
Play with them. Play with them as much as possible, even in the absence of toys, create an imaginative world with them and be present, always. As adults, we have an imagination far wilder than that of our children, and we should use this to engage them in all ways, unleash their creativity and let kids be kids.
Finally, what’s next for you?
I am preparing for my first art installation that will have the community involved throughout the entire process! My workshops and crafts have always been very community-driven, so this upcoming event is not only exciting for me personally, but also as a community-centric artist.
Thanks, Cheryl! We’ll be keeping an eye out for those workshops and installation!
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