Last month I embarked on the first in a series of interviews investigating how other creatives inspire & encourage kids to express themselves. The reason? My 4 year old has really begun to blossom creatively and naturally I want to be able to nurture & support this delightful aspect of his development as best I can.
As I sit down to write this months blog entry, trying to find the right words to start my intro to this amazing lady … it struck me … how we can go through life in a rut sometimes. Then out of the blue we meet someone or have an encounter with someone who seems to appear as if magically, right at the very time we need them. They make us think. They invite us into a different way of seeing things. Or they simply hold up a metaphorical mirror to our face … I’m sure you know what I’m talking about?
So there I was, low on energy, procrastinating and dillydallying. Those of you who follow my Instagram account may have noticed this in my posts over the past month or more. I’d slowed down a lot while trying to get through the last bit of winter here in the Southern hemisphere. “It’s all part of some cathartic creative process” I kept telling myself.
And then, BAM! … I met up with Libby Millington for the second part of my interview with her about her series of kids craft books entitled “Craft It Up”.
If there ever was someone to inspire a “get-up-and-go” mindset, it’s Libby! She’s a writer, crafter, mum to 5, a world traveller, a student and avid lover of the city of Sydney. She’s full of ideas and one hell of a creative motivator!
So we talked about being creative, being a mother and what inspired her to write “Craft It Up, Around The World” for kids … and so without further procrastination on my part, here is that interview.
1. How & why did you come to write the Craft It Up books?
The first Craft it Up book, Craft It Up Around The World, started as a book on Sydney. I am completely and utterly passionate about Sydney and have been since I arrived 18 years ago. I spend a lot of my time, mouth open at the beauty and diversity of the city. I walk across the Harbour Bridge as often as I can and each time the loveliness of the harbour hits me as if it’s the first time!
One day I realised that much of what I loved could inspire craft projects for kids. I got together with a photographer friend (Cath Armstrong), I found a book I loved, Kate Lilley’s Eco-Friendly Crafting With Kids, and sent a rough as guts draft to her publishers, Ryland, Peter and Small in London. It was a crazy, naïve thing to do, but sure enough, they liked my style and I got a contract. I think I just refused to let the process intimidate me.
2. What were you doing before you wrote them?
I have a beautiful blended family of 5 children. I have been so lucky to be able to raise them while working various jobs from home. I was editing an architectural magazine when they were little and have been writing ever since.
3. What is it about creativity & crafting that you find so compelling?
I grew up in 1980s England without a TV! My mother was an art teacher and my parents both instilled in me a passion for art and creativity. There was always a project on the go at home and we often crafted at the kitchen table.
I love crafting with my own kids and their friends. Quite often projects change radically from what we start and the kids take things in a different direction. Or they just disappear into my studio and pull a whole load of materials out onto the floor and make things on their own. And I have to stand back and not be precious about anything! My friends call my house a ‘rich learning environment’. I know that’s code for a chaotic mess, but I’m going with rich learning environment every time!
4. What’s the hardest part of what you do? And how do you over come it?
I think it’s hard to combine creativity and paying every bill. Especially with a big family. But I love what I do and the compromise is that I have a regular job too. But I dream big and there are always big creative plans afoot!
5. What is your proudest career achievement?
I love my books. My father has several books in print and books are such a huge part of my life. Holding your own book in your hands is just wonderful.
6. Who or what inspires you?
My enduring love affair with Sydney inspires and informs much of what I do. I still pinch myself that I was lucky enough to backpack here. That I am now able call it home is nothing short of magic. The colour is just so saturated here and I love the beach, the city, the bush, the culture, the light. I love Australians and the Australian sensibility. And I am inspired by my family. My kids are all so different. Being a mother is like a series of brilliant surprises!
7. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever had to do?
I’m working on a couple of projects at the moment that are pushing me out of my comfort zone. I’ve learnt that when I feel uncomfortable, that’s when I’m really challenging myself and I feel the most alive.
8. What’s your favourite project from the Craft It Up books that you'd like to share?
A huge thank you to Libby for devoting time & energy to this interview. What a powerhouse of creativity! We are Titanically inspired!
My 4 year old & I have just started work on the Paper Wreath Crown from the Greece project page in "Craft It Up Around The World". He loves tracing around his own hands & using the scissors to cut them out.
And here's a link to another favourite from Libby & Cath's other book "Craft It Up, Christmas Around The World". Click on this link to watch the video & make your own Pay It Forward Advent Calendar for Christmas
To check Libby's Instagram feed go to @craftitupcreative or www.instagram.com/craftitupcreative
Her books are published by CICO Kidz and are available by clicking here :
All images are courtesy of Libby Millington except *