Guest series 2012: I asked fellow bloggers, makers and creators to write on their creativity and focus their essay on one of four topics: creativity and health, creativity and business, creativity and parenting or creativity and process. I am very excited to have a wonderful lot of fellow creative folk guest posting here at whipup.net over the next couple of months. Please welcome…
Jo Ebisujima, otherwise known as jojoebi (jo-jo-eh-bee) is a British designer living and working in Saitama, Japan. She creates fun and educational products for kids and sells sewing patterns so you can create them yourself.
I have always been interested in creating for children. My degree was in Electronic Imaging and my final two projects for my thesis was to design and make a CD-ROM (yeah, it was a long time ago) for children with special needs and to write, film and produce an educational TV program. Then much of the time between graduating and having my son was spent teaching children.
When my son, Ebi-kun, was born I became interested in Montessori, the more I read about it the more I fell in love with it and I ended up doing a course so that I could learn more and equip me to teach Ebi-kun. As he grew I started making things for him, Montessori equipment that I couldn’t afford to buy such as the sandpaper letters and sound pouches, along with toys and useful items to help him become more independent.
Around the same time I got myself a sewing machine with the intention of making curtains for the new house, I never did get round to making the curtains but I did re-discover my love of sewing. I started off just making simple clothes and toys, I came across the Black Apple doll pattern one day and got hooked and things just grew from there. Friends started asking me to make things for them and one suggested selling my goods online, I soon discovered Etsy and set myself up a shop and I have built the business up slowly from there.
My son and his interests inspire me a lot and several of the projects I have worked on in the last couple of years have come from direct needs or requests from him. In Japan we have to make a pile of bags of specific sizes for kindergarten, Ebi-kun was very much into knights and dragons and asked for knight fabric for his bags. Now, Japan has a lot of great fabric but knights and dragons are not a common theme so this led me into the world of fabric design, Spoonflower had not long being launched, they saved the day, as I was able to print off my designs and make the bags. This year he started school and loves the fabric so much he requested his new school bags be made with it too.
Another design that grew from a need was the Steggie Back Pack, he had a kindergarten trip coming up and needed a backpack to carry his lunch and mat in, of course he didn’t have one and I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make! This time there was no actual request just a need for a backpack, dinosaurs are also a big favourite so after a few rough sketches I put together his bag. I like to think it was my perfect pattern making skills which meant that it all came together first time but I have a sneaky feeling it was more down to good luck. Seeing his eyes light up the first time he sets eyes on something new that I have made for him makes it all worth while. I hadn’t planned to make it into a sewing pattern but we got such a good reaction to it from friends and strangers, he was the envy of the kindy outing and it was a real confidence boost for me too. So I set to it and drew up the pattern properly.
I really enjoy the process of coming up with something new, working out how to make it and then bringing it all together. We often have creative time together, crafting or painting side by side sometimes we will work with the same medium but go off in our on direction other times I will be sewing and he will be building something out of cardboard boxes, creating in the same space but on our own. This is mirrored in our work room, at one end is my studio space and the other end, his Montessori shelves, the room evolved like this and works for both of us.
I would say a good chunk of my inspiration comes from my son, his endless stream of questions or his crazy stories he tells me as we cook dinner together and I get an equal dose of inspiration from living in Japan, a culture far from my own. I feel like everyday I am learning something new, remembering to see the world through a child’s eyes and pushing adult sensibilities out of the way are important parts of my creative process too. I also love to watch children play and interact, notice the similarities and differences such as kids here make rice balls out of mud not mud pies. Also, the online community is a resource I can’t live without. The Crafty Crow and Pinterest are great for coming up with new project ideas, often one idea found there will spark a whole new project and off we go again on another adventure.