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Inspiration Board | Justine Spinoza

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.”

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1. Wooden knick-knacks: “I've collected old wooden objects and knick-knacks for years—usually things I find at thrift shops or digging around my grandparents' attic. I've always loved things carved from wood long before I started working with wood myself. Something about seeing the myriad shapes and forms that wood can take on is super inspiring.” 2. Mirrors: “Similar to my wooden knick-knack collection/obsession, I've collected mirrors of various shapes and sizes over the years. I love hanging them in areas all over the house and seeing how they catch random passing objects. They make a room feel larger and multi-dimensional and they’re not just pretty, they are functional. I think in a lot of ways mirrors inspire things that I build in their beauty and functionality.” 3. Gardening/plants: “Growing plants is like caring for a pet in their dependence on humans for water and food to grow. I love watching plants respond to their environment and seeing them in different stages of growth. Plants and roots can adapt and twist to find just the right amount of sunshine or to fit into a small space. I'm inspired by that kind of tenacity and versatility.” 4. Tools: “When I first started building things I had a few very simple tools. I like how having only a few tools forces creativity. I've since grown my power tool collection, but sometimes miss the days of trying to figure out how to build an object with just the few hand tools you may have access to.” 5. Tetris: “I've had this Game Boy for as long as I can remember. The only game I ever play (the only game I own for it anymore) is Tetris. I'm pretty addicted. It wasn't until recently that someone pointed out the obvious connection between liking a game where you fit pieces together and building furniture.” 6. Antiques and old photographs: “My bathroom walls are covered with antique photographs that I've collected over the years. I spend probably too much time looking at them and trying to imagine the individual in the photograph's story. I love how they all took pictures with their automobiles. Photos from back then, before the digital age, seem so special — each one so carefully thought out and planned. I have a similar affinity for antique tins and bottles. There's something about rust that I love. I think its randomness and color inspire some of the ways I like to stain the furniture I make.” 7. Corks: “I collect these guys, too. Their random shapes and consistencies fascinate me. It seems like such a shame that they only get used once. I think eventually I'll try to build something that incorporates them into the design.”


Photography by Chad Wadsworth.


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