Artsplorers Meet: Susie Rugg, Handy With Scissors

I am so excited to share this interview with Susie Rugg, the mastermind behind the brilliant Handy With Scissors blog. Where most of us see filler for the recycling bin, Susie sees quirky, colorful works of art, unlike anything you’ve probably seen before. And, her young children are well into the creation game, too. Susie shares with us her love of “junk,” her top 5 must-save materials, and her tips for parents who don’t think they’re crafty.

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Hi, Susie! To begin, can you tell us a bit about your blog, Handy With Scissors? Your projects are always just divine, and they also inspire me to do better with re-using household items when we do craft. Is there a philosophy that guides your work on Handy With Scissors? 


Thank you! I am so glad you find it inspiring. I really do love junk. I guess I have always had the ability to see old things in new ways. My mum has an amazing imagination and my childhood was filled with lots of magic. I think there is magic in possibility.

The blog is really about helping others find little bits of magic in everyday things. I think people are kind of used to recycled art being a bit daggy or second rate, but my blog tries to show people that junk can be beautiful!


And, how about your work as the Kids & Families Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Art? Please tell me that job is as fun as it sounds! 


Haha, yes it is a great job. I work with a team of artists that deliver the programs so I don’t actually run the programs there but it is a lovely creative environment to be a part of. The view isn’t bad either…


Do you keep quite a stash of recycled material on hand at home? What are some of the best objects to hold onto? What are some of the other must-have art items in your arsenal?


Um, yes…I have a LOT of recyclables at home. That is the flipside of seeing possibility in everything!! I am lucky enough to have a room at home that I have taken over as Handy HQ. My kids will probably resent me when they are old enough not to want to share a room but for now it is wonderful!

My top 5 recyclables are:


  1. EGG CARTONS. They are easily cut, fun to paint and the Internet is swollen with ways to use them.
  2. CARDBOARD BOXES. I generally cut them down into smaller pieces and use them for painting canvas masks, weaving boards, jewellery making and robot building.
  3. LIDS. I never throw away lids. Our favourites uses are; vehicle components, memory match games and jewellery making.
  4. OLD PAINTINGS- Old paintings and drawings make wonderful wrapping paper, and collage material and can really add a wow factor to a project.
  5. PLASTIC CONTAINERS- I always keep a stash of clean plastic recyclables. We mostly use them to make emergency vehicles and art sculptures with hot glue.

Other essential basic supplies for us are: Paint, brushes, PVA glue, and sticky tape. We are also big fans of hot glue and my 4.5 year old has his own glue gun (which he uses supervised).


Did you have ideas about what doing art with your children would be like before you had your own? What have they taught you about the creative process? 

You know, I never even thought I would have kids, now I have 2! I did really hope that they would like making art though because frankly there were never going to have a choice in the matter!

I think making art with kids is amazing and frustrating in equal measures. You really have to just let go and surrender to their creative process as they inevitable will want to stray from the script. I guess this has taught me to be patient, or is still teaching me to be patient. Sometimes I want to yell out STOP its PERFECT don’t add anything more!!, or I find myself being a little too ‘helpful’ and just turning them off the project entirely. Both kids are very different though – my eldest (4.5) is fiercely independent so needs lots an offhand approach, whereas my youngest (1.5) is just mad for anything that involves paint or mess. Managing an art experience for the two of them can be challenging.

Working alongside kids has really helped me think less and question myself less though, mostly because I have to work so quickly! There is no time to doubt that my own projects are worthwhile or question myself when I am making an outfit entirely out of plastic bags or hopping around the house on a recycled hobby horse. Watching kids work so instinctively has helped me loosen up a bit too. I try to just dive into things like they do and not think too much!


Do you have any advice for parents who like the idea of doing art with their kids, but don’t feel that they’re “crafty,” or don’t know where to begin? 

Start small and keep it basic. Keep a small supply of materials that are easily accessible and look for inspiration online. If you don’t like mess, then invest in some drop cloths and smocks but be prepared that it probably will get messy. My friend and fellow blogger Shannon from Oh creative Day has some great time saving ideas for crafting with kids.


I guess my biggest piece of advice would just be to not worry too much about doing it right or having all the stuff because kids can be creative with the most basic materials. Dive in I say because it creativity has so many amazing and far reaching spin offs.


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