About Us

Hi! We're the girls of Swan Bay Family.  Thanks for stopping 

Welcome to Swan Bay Family!

Nestled in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey is Swan Bay Folk Art Center, a place where people can come to learn skills from days gone by in order to create pieces of their own history.  For 25 years, Niki Giberson and her husband Gary have run Swan Bay Folk Art Center out of their home, a sheep farm settled on land that has been in Gary's family since 1637.  Niki and Gary have 3 daughters: Amy, Megan, and Robin (that's me).  For years, we worked together teaching classes for children that linked history with traditional folk art.  Basketry, fiber arts, doll-making, and quilting were taught along with Colonial era games, Victorian tea parties, and what it was like to live in the days of the Pioneers.  Our classes were like a dance--everyone working together as we taught and laughed and sang through each lesson. But our absolute favorite part was before the classes even began.  We would sit around the dining room table and brainstorm about what we wanted to do: what period of history we would cover, which projects we would make, who would teach each craft.  As we talked and planned, we would make each other better.

Fast forward about a decade, and each of us is now married with children of our own.  Niki still teaches classes in basketry, wool felting, and doll-making, and tends her small flock of sheep.  Megan lives down the street and still helps with classes and special celebration days.  But Amy moved to South Carolina, and I moved to Boston.

For years, we've been trying to figure out a way to reignite those dining room brainstorming sessions and to invite others into the creative process, to share our love of history, art, family, and the God who is our Creator, our Father, and our Strength.  Thus was born Swan Bay Family.  Our vision for this space is that it will be somewhere you can go to be inspired.  In essence, it is an invitation to our dining room table.  Each week, we will be bringing you a series of posts written by each of us on a weekly topic.  We'll cover history and family traditions, things that inspire us, projects we're working on, reflections on daily living, and ideas and activities to share with your children.  We'll also be opening an online shop with kits so that you can join in on the fun and special pieces made by each of us.  (Check out our Etsy Shop.)
And now....meet the girls....

Meet the mom, Niki.....

My name is Niki Giberson.  I am a Christian wife, mother of three wonderful grown-up girls (that all of you will be getting to know), Sunday school teacher, church choir singer, and shepherdess.  Many years ago my youngest daughter asked me if I was an ultra-manure (I think she meant entrepreneur), but yes I am that too.  I work in the county school for special needs children with medically fragile preschoolers by day and work at Swan Bay Folk Art Center, a classroom attached to my home by night and weekends.  When not teaching or creating new projects, I make about 2,000 jars of jam a year for a few local stores and farmstands.  I also enjoy participating in local craft shows where I sell baskets, woolen things from my sheep farm, jam, and occasionally some sewn items. I am slightly hyperactive which is not always a good thing, because if I can not see what I have done with my hands in any given day I get a little sad, like I have wasted time that I will never get back again.  And I love, love, love being a grandmother to five, soon to be six grandchildren!!

Meet the oldest, Amy...

Hello, friends!  I'm Amy, admittedly the typical oldest, bossy child.  I like things my way, and I have a terrible verbal filter (a.k.a. I talk too much!).  I'm the worst kind of perfectionist....the procrastinating kind, more of a realist, than pessimist with a pretty good imagination and a type-A plan to make it all work out "perfectly."  Most of the time, though, things do not go according to plan, and although I often feel like a hot mess, I am so thankful that I was bought with a price, that God has a plan and a purpose for my life, and that I am precious to my Heavenly Father, even when I fall so short of perfection myself.
I met my husband, Jared, in college, and we had a very hard time starting our family.  Jesse (6) and Micah (2) are my heart, and you can read more about their stories here and here.  I am a registered nurse, but a little over a year ago I started staying home with my two boys.
So, here I am, a wife and stay-at-home mom to 2 amazing little boys.  I'm learning to like stuff like camping and fart jokes and letting the kids mix the play dough colors.  When I'm not chasing them (and man! do they have a lot of energy!!!!) I love to knit, felt, and sew.  I'm a fabric junkie!  (It's a real problem!)  And I love to cook and bake, too.

Meet the middle, Megan....

I am the middle child and all that that word implies.  Keeper of scores.  Tally-er of number of cookies given.  Measurer of everyone's cup of milk to make sure they didn't have more than mine.  I've managed to find my niche between two very talented sisters as "the artsy one."   I married my high school sweetheart after graduating from Houghton College in 2004 with a concentration in painting and drawing.  I am an art-teacher turned stay-at-home mommy to my two little loves, Molly (age 3) and Sadie (a year and a half).  After perfecting the eye-roll at my parents who used to drag us to every living history colonial village on the east coast, I now find myself fascinated with art history and take every opportunity I can to help out with Swan Bay farm, including using my sheep mid-wifery skills and helping out with special events and classes.  I live two houses away from where I grew up.  (If you have ever experienced my mother's cooking, you would understand why I had no desire to be too far away to receive a dinner invitation.)  My parents instilled in me a love for making creative messes and a desire to love our Creator, and I now hope to do the same for my two girls.  When I'm not busy baby-wrangling, I love to draw portraits, illustrate lessons I learn from the Bible, and cook alongside my husband (who dutifully scrubs behind me as I "creatively mess up" the kitchen.) 

Meet the youngest, Robin... 

My name is Robin Lawrenz, and I am the youngest of our heroines.  Blessed with an active imagination (bordering on a blatant disregard for reality), I thoroughly enjoy thinking outside of the box.  Unfortunately, this has landed me a little lost in the world of adulthood.  I find myself still adjusting to concepts such as "vocational path" and "meal planning."  Thankfully, I have a patient husband and a gracious God, and life goes smoothly forward.  I am also blessed with an almost two-year-old son, Judah, who is the sunshine of my life and the focus of most of my energy.  This past fall, Jason and I bought our first house, and we are diligently fixing it up in preparation for the arrival of our second child in early June.  When I am not painting trim or chasing Judah with a puppet, I enjoy swing dancing, bowling, and nerdy board games.  My creative interests include song-writing, needle-felting, embroidery, sewing, and crochet.

We look forward to getting to know you and YOUR family too! 

All photos were taken by the lovely and talented Jen Thompson

1 comment:

  1. This is so lovely!!! You all warm my heart! Can't wait to read more.