Josie Russell, 23, is a phenomenon. Fourteen years ago she, her sister and mother were subjected to a random hammer attack which killed two of them, leaving Josie alive but with severe brain damage.
Josie almost died before reaching hospital. The years that followed were a struggle to overcome her horrendous brain damage and escape the traumatic memories.
Today, Josie Russell is revealing her artistic talent to the world with intricate textile images of her beloved Snowdonia, North Wales in the UK.
Newly-graduated, she has begun exhibiting original fabric works created with scissors and sewing machine from scraps of unwanted material.
She says: “Only the bare minimum of my materials are bought new: canvases, certain threads, or spare parts for my sewing machine. The rest: frames, buttons, beads, ribbons, and off-cuts of strange, striking fabrics, are sourced from extensive rummaging in my local charity shops, recycled from my own clothes, or else kindly donated by generous family and friends.”
Josie works part-time at her local Tesco supermarket. She adds: “I feel a deep connection with the countryside, so perhaps it is no surprise that the unspoilt mountains, flora and fauna of North Wales form the present basis for most of my creative work.”
It’s a heart-warming story and illustrates the power of crafts to turn desperate lives around.
Anyone who knows about crafts will be familiar with the famous Arts and Crafts Movement of 19th-century England founded by William Morris, John Ruskin and others.
However, the Birmingham Craftsman’s Club is not so well known. The Craftsman’s Club was inspired by the ideals of Ruskin and William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. Robert Catterson Smith believed that in the age of the machine, craftsmanship had become devoid of human feeling and stated “The business of craftsmanship is to express emotion.”
The Craftsman’s Club was a movement founded in 1902 with the object of establishing a high standard of craftsmanship in Birmingham. It was founded by Catterson-Smith, then Principal of the Birmingham School of Art.
Only men could be members, unfortunately, and they had to be established practising artists or craftsmen. Crafts included were :
The Club was relatively small, with 21 subscriptions in the first year, growing to 50 members in its later years. Several members of staff from the Birmingham School of Art were active members of the Club. At the monthly meetings, one of the members would present a paper illustrated with photographs or lantern slides. The Club held annual exhibitions and also arranged summer trips.
In those days, crafts were taken very seriously and were usually based around professionals rather than amateurs and hobbyists, as today.
In the age of blogging, publishing at home is relatively easy — at least if you don’t mind putting your work online for everyone to see free, and freely copy at their leisure.
Yes, there are problems with online publishing, despite its popularity. But what if you want to publish serious work the old-fashioned way, in books or booklets?
You’ll have to look at some old material to find information on the craft of printing and publishing at home. One of the best books on the subject was published in 1984 in the UK by two professional people who happened to run publishing businesses from home.
The book is: Publishing & Printing at Home by Roy Lewis and John B. Easson. It’s published by David & Charles and can be bought second-hand online.
Here are the opening lines of the book:
The spare-time publisher. This book is about the craft of publishing books, booklets and periodicals in small editions from one’s own backroom or backyard. It is a leisure pursuit or an occupation for retirement that is as suited to home operations as weaving, pottery, cabinet-making, metalwork, or photography and comparable creative pastimes.
Although outdated in its technology, the book teaches invaluable skills in producing and putting together one’s own books.
There’s a special offer on that interesting paper magazine for crafts: Crafts — The Magazine for Contemporary Crafts.
For a limited time only new subscribers receive an extra issue free.
Here’s how the magazine describes itself: “Crafts is the only British magazine to cover all craft forms, from studio work to public commissions, from modern experimental work to traditional and historic designs. It is committed to excellent quality in both the work it covers and the coverage itself. Published on alternate months, Crafts is lavishly illustrated to a high standard.”
Take a look at the current issue.