If you've ever wondered what it would be like to craft alongside your mom or daughter, look no further than Christie and Isa Beniston. As the hosts of Maker Knows Best , this mother-daughter duo bonds over their shared creativity, even though it manifests in two totally different styles. We sat down with these lifelong makers to find out more about the role art has played in their relationship, and how their approaches differ when embroidering, sewing, quilting or punch-needling. (That's right, they're also versatile crafters ! )
How did you discover art and crafting?
Christie: I learned from my mom. She made quilts , sewed and was an expert seamstress. My mom taught me practical skills, like sewing and embroidery, but more importantly we shared creative time together. My mom just passed in December and many of my memories of her are intertwined with our projects — it’s almost like a timeline. The crocheted afghans and beautiful quilts she made are lasting reminders of our time together.
Isa: Mom is the reason I got started. There were always craft supplies in the house; we could use the dining room table as the craft table. The rule was that you could draw on any surface, with a substrate. I still come home with all my art supplies, and weirdly still apologize. I’m like, "Oh, sorry I made a mess on the counter!" And Mom's so nice about it. She's like, "No, that’s what it’s there for."
Christie, you’ve been a practicing artist for decades. How has your style and art shifted over time?
The ability to access information and share information has definitely changed the way I go about both making and sharing art. Google Images has been life-changing! Before the internet, artists and illustrators would have a scrap file of images clipped from magazines or other sources at the ready, for whenever we needed reference to draw a giraffe or whatever. And the ability to share information electronically has allowed Isa and I to collaborate in real time, even though we live in different cities. It’s valuable and important to our creative process.
Isa, did you always want to follow in your mother’s footsteps? Were you involved in all things DIY from day one?
Totally! My favorite story is from when I was in kindergarten. They made us draw this little thing that said, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" And I said, "I want to be a graphic designer!" Drawing has been my favorite since day one, but there was always some craft I was obsessed with for a period of time — anything from clothespin dolls to appliquéd pillows to sewing miniature bedding for a magazine rack I turned into a bed for my teddy bear. Our house was always full of random supplies and my mom was always on standby for instruction!
What impact do you think crafting has had on your relationship?
Isa: Oh, it’s quality time. It’s funny because we don’t live in the same city, but I come home a lot and we work alongside each other, either on work-work stuff or crafting in general. We love a project.
In Maker Knows Best, you tackle similar projects but each turns out so differently. How have you developed your distinct creative voices?
Christie: I think I’ve always been a rule follower, but Isa's been able to have more freedom. I began my career as a graphic designer which, while creative, required meeting the creative needs of the client. And in my public art, I’m designing for the guidelines of the site. While I do enjoy the challenge of “creativity on demand” and designing from a prompt, it's been really enjoyable to craft without any rules or expectations.
Isa: Since I was 14 I’ve had access to social media platforms that allowed me to share my work with a global community of other creatives. I’ve found this to be really validating — it lets me see what other people are working on and what’s inspiring them, and it helps me understand my own unique perspective.
You both work in a wide variety of media. What advice do you have for someone who’s looking to broaden their craft horizon and jump into something new?
Christie: Online classes and tutorials like what you find on Bluprint have completely changed everything. It's also still really wonderful to attend a class and learn from someone.
Isa: Or go to a museum. Go to a craft museum, too. Those are all over the country and those are wonderful places.
What myth about making do you want to debunk?
Isa: When people say they aren’t creative or don’t have a creative bone in their body. It’s just not true! Everyone is born creative. It’s in there somewhere; you just have to try a lot of different media and eventually you’ll find something that clicks really nicely with your lifestyle, your interests and your budget. Just dive in and try a lot of things.
Christie: The myth that in order to be an artist you need to have a “left or right brain." It may deter people right at the start, which is terrible! Everyone has the potential for creativity and I believe one uses their entire brain in the creative process.
What advice would you give to someone in a creative rut?
Isa: When I have a rut, I like to look at books — weird reference books, cookbooks, anything that’s lying around. You never know what’s gonna jog your inspo. And then I also go to museums, art shows and the craft store. It's nice to have an excuse to buy something, and you might be surprised what you stumble upon.
Want to see Christie and Isa crafting in action? Check out the first episode of Maker Knows Best — or sit back and binge the whole series !
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.