San Antonio mom blogger Amy Johnson is always making something. It’s no surprise, then, that her blog, Maker Mama, inspires others to tap into their natural creativity and to stretch a bit beyond their typical DIY comfort zone. A mom to four, Amy is passionate about repurposing items she finds while thrift store shopping. And — this is really cool — she is up for a nomination in Martha Stewart’s #AmericanMade contest. Please click through to vote for her!
Have you always been a maker? How old were you when you started making things?
Yes, I guess you could say I have always been a maker of some sort or another. As a girl I loved making miniature toys for my dollhouse, and I loved making my own books. I have a whole series of fashion story books I created about me and my friends walking the runway in elementary school. I learned a bit of sewing when I was a bit older, but didn’t really start up until I had my oldest daughter Eleanor (she’s my third out of four kiddos). Most of my creativity was expressed through writing up until then. I have a whole stack of notebooks I’ve kept throughout my life. Some of it is journaling, but there’s a lot of poetry in there, too–that’s what I pictured myself being, a poet. Maybe one day.
Where do you get the inspiration for the things you create?
Many of the projects I work on today are done with repurposed materials. I have a big heart for treading as lightly as possible on the world around me (which feels next to impossible most days), and using something that’s already a little loved feels so much better to me than creating a demand for more and more to be manufactured.
So a lot of my inspiration comes from walking the aisles at the thrift store. I see something that catches my eye and think about what I can do with it, what else could it be? I’ve turned dresses into skirts, lampshades into baskets, and even transformed an old pot lid into a clock. I love the challenge of reusing everyday items (and the low cost).
How can we, as parents, instill a passion for creativity in our kids?
I think the biggest thing you can do is let them see you being creative. I often fill the little nooks and crannies of my day working on my latest project, and the kids are naturally curious. They see me making and want to create, too. And if you’re not a naturally creative person there are tons of ideas online to get you started (I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to ideas for kids activities). Even sitting down to paint or color during a family art time helps encourage little ones to make something themselves. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
What is your favorite (or most highly trafficked) blog post you’ve written?
I think one of the biggest posts I’ve ever had was one called Five Things You Should Always Buy at the Thrift Store. It just really grabbed people’s attention, and even raised a little controversy in the comments. But I think my favorite has to be my paper plate angel wings. It was my first tutorial ever (so the pictures are terrible), and it was my first post to go kind of big. For some reason I got a lot of traffic from Italy with that one. They have some big carnival where angel wings come in handy!
What are your favorite maker blogs?
Ooh, that’s such a hard one, mainly because I don’t want to leave anyone out. I’ve got to give a shout out to my creative mama blogger crew–we share a collaborative board called Mamas…Making on Pinterest. Those ladies just blow me away with their ideas and support.
And the creative blogger who has probably had the biggest impact on my own craft-blogger path is Diane of CraftyPod. She used to host a podcast interview series that just made my world so much bigger. She continues to be great not only with her projects (and books), but also with her amazing ability to think deeper about what it means to be a creative person.