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Strictly Crafting

In the Hot Seat – Jo Austin

Jo Austin

Q1. Have you always been creative?

I have always been fairly creative, right from an early age I can remember sitting and playing on my grandma’s old Treadle sewing machine and helping my aunty do her macramé whilst she babysat for us. I guess it’s something that ran down in the family tree! We even used to design certificates at my grandma’s house for ‘the best salad’ or ‘prettiest cut tomato’…you get the idea!!

Q2. What is the first thing you can recall making as a child and who was it for?

I can recall many things I made from a very early age, but the first thing would have to be a sackcloth picture with large felt circles on it, stitched with metallic embroidery thread and made to represent the moon and stars. It was on dark green sackcloth – it looks pretty ghastly now, but it is over 40 years old and yes, I still have it! I also made dolls clothes for my little dolls out of scraps of fabric leftover from things my mum sewed; it was proper needle and cotton time then – no sewing machine needed! Applique was my most favourite technique when I was around 10 years old. Still love it now!

Q3. What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’?

When I grew up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to teach music or sewing as these were my favourite things at school. Music had to be the preference after a little bit of a disaster with a stuffed hippopotamus during a sewing lesson! But the least said on that one the better! For particular reasons it wasn’t to be music either - but I guess, in a way, I’m still teaching and helping people, which is perfect for me.

Q4. Why/when did you decide you could make a living out of crafting?

Starting to make a career out of crafting can be quite difficult and testing at times. It isn’t something that I ever intentionally tried to achieve but through hard work, dedication, and just being myself, it happened. I’ve been crafting in one way or another for 25 years or so, but professionally for around 15 years. I still have lots to learn, and never take anything for granted on the path I’m walking. Everyone has a path to travel; it just happens that for some it takes a longer time to get from A to Z. Like me!

Q5. Do you have any other hobbies?

Crafting takes up most of my time, but when I do get free time, I love cross stitch, sewing, painting and drawing. I’ve dabbled with lots of crafts from beading, jewellery, lacework, tatting, airbrushing, knitting and crochet, but always come back to my old favourite of stamping and colouring. I also have three spaniels that I like to walk, and a large garden that looks rustic (!) most of the time!!

Q6. What craft item can you not live without?

The most important thing I have in my craft room is my embossing tool. I have a set of different sizes and I can’t live without them. I use them almost daily. From scoring my card blanks on my score board, to scoring grid lines using the guillotine. I emboss with them through my dies when I lose my embossing mat on my very ‘busy’ craft desk, and to add those little details to a card background for finishing touches. They also help with your die cuts and paper pieced sections to add shape and detail to your work. Totally useful and I love them!

Q7. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take 5 items, what would they be – and why?

I would need to have my glass mat, a drawing pad, drawing pencils, pencil sharpener and talcum powder. A glass mat to use as something to lean on. A drawing pad to sketch some card layouts, do a little bit of Zentangle, create a few card designs, doodle, draw a few pictures and be generally creative. Pencils of all grades to add shading and depth to my sketches. Sharpener to sharpen the pencils when I’ve doodled too much. Talcum powder to keep me comfortable with the sand between my toes!

Q8. What’s your biggest ambition in life?

My biggest ambition is life is to live for the moment and be proud of what I’ve achieved. I’m not really a confident person, I have anxiety and panic attacks and my main ambition for 2016 is to deal with this and try to live for the moment and appreciate ‘me’ a little more. I am succeeding, but it takes time. I think most people come into crafting for one reason or another, and I certainly know it helps me.

Q9. What’s been the highlight of your crafting life so far?

The highlight of my crafting life so far is to be able to share what I know up to now. There are so many things I want to do, plans I have, a to-do list a mile long, but being the world’s worst procrastinator doesn’t help. I love getting people crafting, and inspiring people, and being part of Create and Craft for the many years I’ve been here, I’ve been able to do that wholeheartedly. I hope you’ve enjoyed my crazy journey so far!

Q10. Any advice for beginners?

The best advice I have for any new crafters out there is to not give up. I still have my very first card I ever made, and believe me, it’s not something to be proud of. I have a little book from my first few years of cards, just pictures, but looking back I can see how far I’ve come. It’s also normal to begin your crafting with one thing and move to something different fairly quickly, from decoupage to stamping, from die cutting to CD crafting. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, it’s normal. Take things steady, and if you’re in any doubt, ask someone. There’s always someone at Create and Craft you can email and ask, and they will answer your question or at least find out for you. Remember, it’s not a silly question if you don’t know. We all have to start somewhere. I know I did!