Justine Spinoza has a lot of talented friends including musicians, writers, and in her words, other “creative geniuses.” Though she works as a freelance camera operator and editor, Spinoza says she had a few frustrating years trying to figure out what it was she wanted to create. She tried piano, but found it wasn’t for her. “I was quickly reminded that I am, in fact, not a musician at all,” she laughs. Next came what would turn out to be the answer: woodworking. “Finding woodworking was like finding my hidden passion,” Spinoza says. “It’s like giving something new life.”
She started out small, picking up old tables and chairs people left on the side of the road and fixing them up. “The more I did, the more I thought, ‘Wait, I can build this,’” Spinoza says. Forgotten furniture was replaced by worn-out wood, and trips around town during bulk pick-up days became routine. “I love the idea of first, getting free stuff, and second, repurposing something that was on its way to the landfill,” Spinoza says. Her efforts result in unique, strong pieces that imbue all the stitched-and-patched sense of history that makes reclaimed work appealing.
Spinoza realized she needed woodworking to fill the creative holes she found in editing. “Editing and woodworking do have parallels,” Spinoza says. “They are both about fitting pieces together in a way that makes the best sense and tells the best story, so to speak.” But, explains Spinoza, woodworking gives her the chance to be outside, “actively working with my hands and creating something to my liking.”
And Austin proves to be the perfect setting in which to do so. “I think the laid back environment that I find here encourages me to slow down and try something new, try something that actually makes me happy,” Spinoza says. “It's easy to get caught up in the go-go-go mentality, where we're doing nothing more than what we 'should' be doing. It's nice to be in a town where people seem to appreciate the moments of calm and moments of no responsibility.”