Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Carter.
Hi Emily, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Hello! I’m Emily Carter, a San Marcos native. I am an environmentalist, pyrographist, embroiderer, and dancer! I completed my BS in Biology from UCLA (2017), and am currently in my Master’s program for Environmental Policy and Management at University of Denver.
Even with my extensive science background, my true passion lies in the arts. I began classical ballet at five years old and completed my formal education in the Cecchetti Method of Ballet, with daily classes and weekend rehearsals until the end of high school. Once I began college, however, I left ballet behind and dedicated the majority of my time to my studies.
In the fall of last year, my life seemed in order on paper: I had a big girl job, just started my graduate program, and all around had nothing really to complain about. Yet, I still felt unhappy, like something was missing, like nothing I did had a purpose or a meaning. Don’t get me wrong – I was so grateful for everything in my life, but I couldn’t help but want something more. On one of my low nights, I knew my older sister could sense something was off with me. The next morning, she took me to a ballet supply shop and fitted me for pointe shoes. I never planned on going back into ballet at all, yet here I was, on my toes, buying all the ballet gear I could get my hands on. The following Monday, I was back in class at her studio, ending my eight-year ballet hiatus. (Side note – I think we can all agree older sisters make the world a better place).
It was as if ballet never left my body. I mean, my knees and back take a bit longer to recover from classes these days, but overall, it came back swiftly and the same level as when I was a teenager. I performed in two productions since starting up again, which I never imagined I would do.
It wasn’t just starting ballet again. This single art form acted as a gateway for me to start many other types of art. During quarantine 2020, I took up embroidery casually. After beginning ballet again, I started taking embroidery more seriously. I also started wood burning/pyrography. This craft has been the most exciting for me as I progress more and more each day. There’s so much to do with pyrography, and I’ve become very much addicted to it!
I also started creating my own natural dyes and sewing my own clothes. After learning about how awful most big fashion brands are for the environment and its garment workers, I swore off fast fashion and took matters into my own hands. It would be hypocritical for me to love the environment but participate in fast fashion! Now when I want a new item in my wardrobe, I create it. I think everyone should try making something wearable – you’ll feel so confident and proud walking around in clothes made with your own hands!
I display (and sell!) all my art on my Instagram: @embelinaa. I also just launched my website: embelinaa.com.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I’ll admit my biggest struggle has been imposter syndrome. It feels difficult to call myself an artist after such a long break.
UCLA separates their arts and sciences into “North Campus” and “South Campus” respectively. At the young age of eighteen, I ultimately committed to the sciences as a South Campus major. Everything I studied and worked in was science related. I was rarely on North Campus and therefore rarely around artists. Both my siblings are true artists – my brother a musician and my sister a ballerina – leaving me to be the science sister. Re-entering the art world can sometimes feel like I don’t belong or that I haven’t put enough time or energy into the craft. I remind myself that everyone has to start somewhere.
I think everyone feels this way sometimes, regardless of experience. It’s important to remember that we are all here to express ourselves and nothing more. Art doesn’t always have to mean anything or sell easily to have true value and validity. As long as we respect the realm, we all belong in the art world.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
There are so many art mediums that I love, but pyrography holds the biggest spot in my heart. There’s something so therapeutic about the craft and I recommend anyone who may be interested to try it out! I truly think I love wood burning so much because I started with no experience. I allowed myself to be bad, very bad, at a craft and kept practicing to get better. Every piece I make, I feel I have improved from the previous one.
I mainly wood burn elements of nature – flowers, lunar moths, birds, etc. I often seek inspiration from walking outside and exploring my natural surroundings. I find every piece I create requires some type of research, whether it be reading about the number of feathers hummingbirds have or what pyrography stroke works best to depict cat fur. I love that art requires so much research and experimentation!
I’m most proud of my consistency, I think. No matter how busy life gets, I always make time for my craft. I currently work full time, attend graduate school, and have various dance jobs. But that doesn’t stop me from making time for what I love the most.
I am also proud of my dedication to not partaking in fast fashion. Since the start of this year, I have not purchased a single fast fashion item, and instead, mainly rely on reused clothes or creating clothing myself. I have a lot to learn about sewing, but I think doing what I can in the meantime is important. I taught myself how to naturally dye fabrics with things like turmeric, avocado peels, and onion skin. You can get some beautiful colors from these without the toxic waste of traditional textile dyes. In this sense, I feel I am fusing my science world with my art world.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m about halfway through my grad program now, and am expected to finish Spring 2023! After my program, I hope to take on slow fashion, continuing to create my own clothes and perhaps sell them, too. My ideal professional life would be analyzing fashion companies’ ESG reports and helping develop sustainable solutions that prevent greenwashing. I want to hold the fashion industry accountable for their negative impacts.
I will also be involved in Teatro San Diego’s production, The Wiz, which will premiere in August! I will be a costume assistant and perform as a dancer. This will be my first musical, and I cannot wait!
In the meantime, I’m dedicating more time to my craft and creating more art for others. I just launched my website (embelinaa.com) and will be adding more and more pieces to my collection.
- My large pyrography pieces range from $30 – $60.
- My small pyrography pieces range from $7 – $25.
- My embroidery pendants range from $6 – $12.
- My embroidery clothing pieces range from $30 – $75.
- Website: www.embelinaa.com
- Instagram: embelinaa