Meet the Author
Hey there, can you introduce yourself?
We are Libby and Cath and together we are Craft It Up! We make craft, we write about it and we photograph it. Most days we live and breathe craft. Between us we have 8 children and 2 dogs and we both live in Sydney, Australia.
Cath: I was born in Brisbane Australia but have moved addresses many times over the years calling America and Saudi Arabia home along the way. I studied Psychology at university and have spent the past 16 years doing my favourite job- raising my three children.
Libby: I grew up in Bristol, in South West England with my 2 sisters. I have a twin and a sister who is 11 months younger. Yes, we were a ready-made gang of 3! I studied Art Foundation and then did a degree in Journalism. In 1997 I went backpacking to Australia and met my husband in Sydney where I decided to stay. For several years I edited an architectural magazine in Sydney. I am passionate about my family (I am a step mother and mother to 5 children), about craft and travel. My favourite cities are New York and Sydney. In my dreams I revisit the breathtaking scenery of Big Sur in California, the Bristol Docks and my nostalgic childhood holidays in Dorset.
Tell us a bit about the book?
Cath: The book contains 35 fun crafts that take you on a journey around the world visiting all the continents. We have used a range of materials and all of the craft ideas can be adapted and personalised, allowing anyone who picks up the book to create their own unique treasures to keep or give as a gift! Just like a photograph, you have a wonderful keepsake to help immortalise a memory or experience. We have added some fun facts on each country and hope to inspire children to not only love craft but foster a desire to explore the world they live in.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Libby: Craft It Up Around the World is a combination of our passion for travel, craft and photography. Cath and I met in Sydney and when I saw her photography, I knew we could bring our skills together! With so many children between us, we have made our fair share of craft projects over the years. Commercial craft kits often simply didn’t deliver what was promised and some craft books I came across had a sophisticated and expensive list of materials. In our book I hope that the materials are either in your pantry or cupboards already, or are inexpensive and easily accessible. We’ve road tested the instructions too, so we know they work with children.
Cath: When my youngest started preschool we had not long moved to Sydney. I decided the best way to spend my ‘kid free day’ was to explore this beautiful city and all the wonderful locations and buildings it offers. With a desire to nurture my longstanding, but sadly somewhat neglected, love of photography I set off taking some creative photographs of popular Sydney landmarks accompanied by the lovely Libby. Her creative and ingenious nature saw the opportunity to marry our love for appreciating the world around us with craft, and so began our writing, crafting and photographic partnership. Gradually we started designing crafts to match landmarks from other famous cities and places. A little while later and a visit with the publisher has found us here with ‘Craft it up Around the World’. It is all very exciting!
Which is your favourite project?
Libby: I have 2 favourites. Am I allowed 2? The ‘No Worries’ Worry Dolls were the first project I showed to Cindy Richards, our publisher during the first book pitch, so they are my favourite. I have made hundreds of these with my children and their friends. They are a quick start to finish project which works well with younger children with short attention spans! They are also good for play dates and parties where the children want to take home the finished product!
My sentimental favourite is the gingerbread man project, ‘The Mounties Always Get Their (gingerbread) Man’! The cutter is the same as the one my Granny and Mum used and it takes me right back to my childhood and happy days baking in their warm kitchens!
Cath: It is hard to pick a favourite as they were all so fun to create. If I must choose it would be the ‘No Worries’ Worry Dolls from Peru, they are just so sweet and I love the philosophy behind them.
What is your craft space like?
Cath: I am fortunate enough to have a designated room at home to work in, however with a busy family, who either want to join in or need my attention, the dining room table tends to often be used!
Libby: I have a lovely craft studio space at home lined with trestles and vintage storage cupboards for all my supplies, and I have an office. I also have 5 children, 3 still at home, a dog and a husband, so this means I’m rarely in either of those places! I tend to write in a notepad or on my iPad while I’m waiting for golf, ballet or Guides to finish! My craft is done at the dining room table. Once I start, I usually have helpers who want to do the same project. When I go shopping for materials I always allow for extras so that instead of working on the same project as me, they can be creating their own. I am passionate about letting children interpret their own ideas.
Have you always been creative?
Libby: I can’t remember a time when my sisters and I weren’t creating something with my mum. Every Christmas the cards would get more and more elaborate. My favourite card design was using Japanese paper and Windsor and Newton inks, which came in magical little bottles with gorgeous drawings on them. My parents were both teachers and my father taught me about the importance of composition and presentation and I got my passion for fabrics, baking and craft from my mother. We grew up in a very creative household where there was no television and where trips to galleries and museums were frequent.
When I was about 8 or 9, the most wonderful shop opened a few doors down from my primary school. Called Creativity (it’s still there…34 years later!), it was a treasure trove to little girls like my 2 sisters and me. We would pile in there with our pocket money and instead of buying sweets, we would buy frosted pastel flower beads and threading elastic. We had an old air raid shelter in the garden where we set up a little club with a few friends. We were called The Saucy Six!
Craft is really evocative and this nostalgic feeling from my childhood was definitely one of the main reasons we decided to write the book. We hope the crafts in the book help capture magical moments and create lasting memories.
When did you first start crafting?
Cath: I remember at around age 8 creating a pencil holder using a glass jar and covering it with masking tape then paint and admiring the texture it had created. It was this same year my Granddad showed me how to use his box camera (which now sits on my bookshelf at home) and allowed me to take a whole roll of black and white photos. They were the first photographs I’d ever taken and it was such a thrill.
Libby: I’ve always crafted but I can remember one of the first things I made at school, because I still have it in a box of treasures! It is a small blue hand knitted purse with a pink gingham lining. I think every second stitch is dropped, but it’s very precious!
Who are your crafty heroes?
Libby: Here in Australia I love Pip Lincoln from http://meetmeatmikes.com Her book “Make Hey! While the sun shines’ is wonderful. In the UK I love the work of Kate Lilley from http://www.minieco.co.uk/ Her work is funky and awesome! Her book ‘Eco-friendly crafting with kids’ is a favourite in our house. There are so many amazing bloggers and crafters out there and I love what is happening right now with craft.
Where do you find inspiration?
Libby: I am passionate about colour and design. I get inspiration from everything around me. At home I surround myself with colour, art and objects to inspire me. Some people call it clutter, I call it inspiration! Instagram, Pinterest and Etsy are always great sources of beautiful ideas too!
Cath: There are so many things that inspire creativity in me.
My children have always been a great source. Their uninhibited imaginations and love of role playing requiring ‘props’ has meant there has had to be many a creative moment. Craft is a great way for kids to learn and engage their environment while being such a fun way for parents to spend time with their children. I often hear parents say they avoid craft at home because they think it is too messy, too hard or they think they just aren’t creative - I hope this book can show parents and children how easy and fun crafting can be!
I also love browsing the craft store aisles and finding materials that excite and inspire me to put them to some creative use.
What's next for you?
We have some fun ideas for a new series in the pipeline that we can’t say too much about…watch this space ;)
Bring the great wide world into your own home with these 35 travel-inspired craft projects! Driven by a passion for travel, photography and craft, Libby Abadee and Cath Armstrong have created Craft It Up Around The World to inspire children to look at the world around them. They have designed 35 unique and enduring projects that represent different countries, all complete with fun facts. Discover how with simple kitchen ingredients you can make salt dough coins to evoke the magic of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, or a Times Square pencil tin on which to store your vacation magnets from New York. Give the whirling Dervish doll a spin, or banish stress with their 'No worries' worry dolls, inspired by Peru. As you follow the simple step-by-step instructions, you'll make stunning crafts that you'll want to keep forever or give as beautiful gifts.