I’m Caroline, the punch needle artist behind all the fun, colourful and quirky creations at Caroline Jane Creative! You’ll find a whole range of pieces from cushions, wall hangings, plant pot covers, kits, key rings and even mirrors! Yes, you can actually punch needle a mirror (well a frame for it anyway!). Everything I create is a one off, which is either a result of my low boredom threshold or the sheer quantity of ideas zooming around my head! Note to self: start writing ideas down! As a result, my collection can only be described as eclectic.
Back to the start
I can attribute my creativity to my lovely Mum, so really my creative journey started from the moment I was born. As an infant teacher, my Mum always made sure there was plenty of craftiness on the go. Pretty much everything could be turned into something. We smoothed out milk bottle tops, flattened out cereal boxes, recycled old clothes to make new ones, made soft toys from scrap bits of felt from the market and generally made a big creative mess (and were encouraged to). Fun times. She also introduced me to different artists. Holidays would inevitably include a trip to at least one art gallery or museum where we’d collect postcards to add to the scrap books already full of pictures of paintings and sculptures we’d cut from magazines. This led to me being stoic in my decision to go to art college at the age of 16 (not a popular choice with everyone in my family). I studied graphic design back in the days when cut and paste actually meant cutting with scissors and pasting with glue. After a brief spell working in that field, I decided I wanted to live in London, so I got a job at the BBC and left my home in north east England. The next few years saw me happily moving from job to job and city to city, getting a degree in art history, then a postgrad, until I made the decision to train as a primary school teacher, finally settling in Newcastle upon Tyne (or so I thought).
So where does punch needle come in?
I was absolutely dedicated to teaching and whilst I still had a strong interest in art and design, my only creative outlet was making my own clothes. This even included a ra ra dress I made for a competition from a hi vis jacket and builders barrier tape. It was certainly unique and has actually been worn out in public… another story! Anyway, I digress. Life moved on, I moved to the Midlands, and I found myself seeking fulfilment in areas other than teaching. In addition, I started to recognise signs of anxiety and depression in myself. Having already experienced a breakdown, I knew I had to stop it from getting worse. Crafting it was then! I dug out old art materials and sketchbooks, including my Mum’s, and started to look at craft workshops, kits and online tutorials. I was totally inspired and wanted to try everything! And I did! Indian wood block printing, clay jewellery, calligraphy, paper beads, silversmithing, weaving, crochet and macrame to name but a few! I was particularly drawn to textiles though and, whilst scrolling through the internet, I came across punch needle. I’d never heard of it before, so I was intrigued. I bought a kit, and I was hooked! My first attempts were amateur, to say the least, but I found the rhythmic, mindful nature of the process so therapeutic that I persevered. At first, I made punched hoops, often using pre-existing patterns. I quickly realised however that punch needle could be applied to all sorts of items, from practical functional homewares to more decorative pieces. I started creating my own designs and a much wider range of items.
I absolutely love using bright vibrant colours and I’m equally inspired by the beautiful patterns found in nature as I am to the more sculptural shapes found in architecture. I’m particularly drawn to the different textures that can be created in punch needle. It’s difficult to resist the sumptuous, tactile nature of pieces created with different loop heights, stitches and yarns. There are, of course, times when those creative juices just aren’t flowing and all those ideas zooming around my head have vanished into thin air! This used to be a real struggle for me and I’ve made some pretty rubbish stuff just to be ‘making’. I’ve come to realise though, that this happens to the best of us. I’m a huge advocate of walking, in particular mindful walking, and that blast of fresh air, surrounded by nature rarely fails to get my creative vibes back on track. And, if that walk is by my favourite place in the whole world, the sea, then it never fails!!
Spreading the punch needle message!
The teacher in me will never go and as well as making, I love leading punch needle workshops. Seeing people who’ve never punched before, create items they’re proud of, gives me so much satisfaction. The workshops led to tutorials (I was over the moon when I was asked to start writing them for a large craft retailer – the imposter syndrome in me thought the initial message must have been sent to the wrong person). After lots of requests I now also use a couple of my designs in my punch needle kits.
My mind is whirring with lots of unrealistic dreams, but are they? Saying yes to opportunities when it would have been easier to say no may seem scary, but it could also be exciting! So, perhaps, one day, I will be travelling around in my crafty van teaching punch needle to whoever will have me. And perhaps, that dream of that gallery with one of my pieces on display will, one day, become a reality.
My lovely Mum who encouraged and allowed for such a creative upbringing sadly never saw much of my journey. My auntie tells me how proud she would be if she was around now and knowing that makes me feel a little bit proud of myself too.
If you’re inspired to see more, why not pop over and have a colourful stroll through my Instagram @carolinejanecreative or on Facebook at Caroline Jane Creative!