We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Ambrosio and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ashley, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
My business Spring + Vine has been constantly growing and evolving over the past two years. I initially started this creative endeavor because I had just moved to Tucson by way of Canada and was looking for an artistic outlet to dive into. Before I made the move here, I had spent the last 12 years as a dedicated high school Math teacher and a school counsellor in Vancouver, and although supporting and empowering young people will always be my driving force, I knew I needed a break from the school system and was looking to explore new and uncharted horizons. Art and creativity has always played a central role in my life, whether it was endless doodling as a kid, or my lifelong love of music and singing, as well as dabbling in a few different mediums.. it’s always been close to my heart, but no formal classes or training to speak of and really no intentional time or space devoted to engaging in it..
Until around 2015 when I signed up for my first pottery class at a local community center. It took one class and I was totally hooked. Since then I haven’t looked back and I’ve been lucky enough to keep learning the craft both as a student, a work-study intern, a volunteer at the local clay co-op and now a teacher. I offer clay hand-building workshops from my backyard studio to folks in our community who are looking to learn a new skill, have a fun and unique experience and get their hands dirty playing with the clay. Teaching has always been a big part of who I am, just as much as being a student, and having the opportunity to offer these classes and pass along the techniques and tools I’ve been learning has been such a joy! Helping people get out of their heads and into their bodies is the main goal. Art and creativity is such an important element of each one of us.. a way to allow our unique voices to shine through and a way for our unique selves to feel fully expressed.. what a gift it’s been.. and we’re just getting started!
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve been making natural soap for over ten years now, first as a fun creative outlet and a way to share with my family and friends, but eventually my circles encouraged me to start to sell the soap and share it with others. So I dove into the local farmer’s market scene.. and it was such a blast! I was working full time as a high school Teacher, but on the weekends you could find me behind my table slinging suds, chatting it up and connecting with people, makers, and other small businesses in my community. And it was such a nice balance for me, outside of the work I was doing with teens.. a different way of using my body and my mind and enjoying all the benefits along the way.
Now soap and pottery make up the biggest components of my business, creating along with teaching workshops is how I’m lucky enough to spend my time. I’m still very much connected to youth and work with them in a mentorship capacity, but the most important piece of how I blend these two passions together is through the community connections we make with Spring + Vine.
A portion of all of our soap sales are donated back to several local non-profits who are committed to supporting some of the most vulnerable and homeless youth in our community. I AM YOU 360, Youth on their Own and Casa Alitas are the community-based initiatives that we partner with, and from every bar of soap, $1, plus mini bars are soap are donated and dispersed through their amazing teams and efforts. Youth are the answer. And any ways that we can help to support them and their journeys along this path is the whole why of what I’m doing.
My pottery is without a doubt inspired by nature and the beauty of the vast desert landscape around us. I hoping to create art that is honest and evokes a sense of curiosity and wonder. I’m aiming to create pieces that can be well-used and well-loved. I am constantly foraging and harvesting little treasures that I find on my travels, and bringing a bit of the outside in, to appreciate in my home and in my life.. keeps me connected to nature and my truest sense of self.
Also, I’m a yoga teacher and offering a space for folks and young people to move and breath is another highlight of my life. I was a PE teacher in a past iteration of myself and movement has always been in the forefront. I run a group called the Old Pueblo Youth Yoga Project, where I offer free yoga and mindfulness classes outdoors and in schools around town and I also teach a weekly Thursday evening class at the beautiful Bhava Wellness,
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
MT LEMMON! RINCON! WRIGHTSON! Or pretty much any of the amazing hikes that we have in our city. We are so lucky to be in the desert and surrounded by mountains in every direction.. exploring new trails and camping in the pines with my husband and our pup are some of my favorite past times.
We love live music and Tucson’s music scene is awesome! So before Exo closed we loved to head to their listening room, but still lots of great venues to get groovy at.
Yoga classes and the beautiful shop space at Bhava Wellness (come take a class with me on Thursday evenings at 7pm)
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to send a lot of love and gratitude to Maxine from the Tucson Clay Co-op here in Tucson, plus all of the wonderful members and students who contribute to its vibrant and loving community.
One week after moving to Tucson from Canada, I enrolled in a pottery class with Maxine at the TCC. It quickly became my home away from home, and she made it feel like a warm and welcoming safe haven for me to find my footing. The people who grace the studio are wonderfully eclectic and from all walks of life, endlessly inspiring and incredibly compassionate. They are always encouraging and supportive, never competitive or territorial, and it was exactly what I needed at that time in my life, not only for my artistic endeavours to flourish and thrive, but also my heart and my spirit.
I think about all of the people who are lucky enough to find this little gem in our town. To have been touched by their experience there. And I am so grateful. The TCC is a lifeline in our community and I wouldn’t be where I am without it.
Other: My personal/youth support info: instagram: @oldpueblo.youthyoga www.ashleyambrosio.com
The image of the backyard clay workshop under the twinkly lights: Katie from Moon Valley Creative (@moonvalleycreative)