Talking craft and creativity with... Susie Johns
Thursday, February 26, 2015
To celebrate International Women's Day on 8th March, we talk to a series of crafty authors about inspiration and what craft means to them
Sunday 8th March is International Women’s Day and to celebrate, we’ve spoken to some of our favourite female crafters about inspiration, creativity and what craft means to them. There will be a new feature every day this week so check back for more!
Meet... Susie Johns!
When did you start crafting and why?
Most of my crafting skills have been nurtured from an early age. My mum and grandmothers taught me to sew, knit and crochet. My father – who worked as an illustrator on the local paper, then as a staff photographer on The Guardian – and both my grandfathers were excellent at drawing, woodwork and model-making, so they were all great mentors when it came to drawing, painting and crafts. When I left school I studied art, first at Croydon College, then at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, followed by two years at Ravensbourne, where I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. I then pursued a two-year postgraduate (MA) in Fine Art Printmaking at The Slade School, University College London. During those seven years at art college I did drawing, painting and printmaking – textiles didn’t come into it – but as an impoverished student, I learnt to make my own clothes, using the skills that had been passed on to me by my family. Little did I know then that I would be making my living as an artist and craft author.
When starting new projects or coming up with new ideas, what inspires you?
When I get the time, I visit galleries and museums – particularly Tate Modern, The National Portrait Gallery, the V&A, The Glynn Vivian Gallery in Swansea, and The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. I carry a sketchbook wherever I go, and whenever I get an idea, I write notes and make sketches. Everything I make begins with a drawing. I also like to visit markets – such as Greenwich Market, Brick Lane and Portobello – and car boot fairs, junk shops and local auctions. I collect vintage children’s annuals, which are a great source of inspiration.
The thing I like best about crafting is the alchemy: you start with a blank piece of paper and a pencil, or a piece of plain cloth and a skein of thread, or a ball of yarn and some knitting needles, and then comes the transformation into a picture or a garment or a soft toy, or whatever. It’s truly magical.
My own personal style is ‘eclectic’ and this applies to the way I dress, the way I furnish my house, and the things I make. Using recycled materials and found objects presents an enjoyable challenge and encourages creativity, while fabrics and yarns left over after completing an item can be used as the starting point for a future project.
Susie Johns is the author of Knitted Woodland Creatures, Finger Puppets and Baby Booties & Slippers (all published by GMC and available to buy at www.thegmcgroup.com), among others! She will be demonstrating projects and signing books at the Spring Knitting & Stitching Show in GMC’s Author Lounge (Stand F14) on Sunday 8th March.