The Project Runway of arts and crafts is here, and viewers aren't going to be able to understand how they ever lived without it. NBC's Making It premieres on July 30 at 10 p.m., and it will follow eight makers — or professional DIY-ers and artists — as they compete to win the grand prize. And to top it all off, the contestants will be hosted and judged by Parks and Recreation co-stars Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Joining them is one of paper artistry's finest, veteran maker Jeff Rudell. So who is Jeff on Making It and what does he really do?
Rudell has been around in the crafting world for a while. According to his NBC bio, he grew up in the Midwest where his father, funny enough, worked at a paper mill. His easy access to paper, cardboard, and foil by way of his dad's job grew his fascination with paper engineering. Now, he is widely known for his extravagant creations for well known brands like Tiffany & Co., Unilever, and New York Botanical Garden.
In 2008 and 2009, Rudell authored a blog post series in partnership with CraftyStylish, where he shared dozens of tutorials on how to turn paper into something new. While his father's job supplied his love of paper crafting, his mom, being just as creative as him, fueled it with ideas. According CraftyStylish, his mom began using the misfit paper his dad brought home from work in different areas of the house.
One year, she even wrapped their Christmas gifts in sheets of rejected Campbell Soup labels, which they dubbed their "Warhol Christmas." She also plastered one of his bedroom walls with playing cards for decoration and constructed "the great ship Argo; pride of the Greeks" from Argo brand cornstarch boxes and a yellow utility crate. The family was no stranger to art and its fluidity.
"Paper was my first playmate, my constant companion, my catechism in graphic design, and fuel for my imagination," Rudell wrote in his post, titled "Crafting My Life With Paper." "Like most crafters, I have the-many-who-came-before-me to thank for generously sharing their ideas and techniques and now I’m thrilled to have a chance here, to continue the tradition and pass along some of my own ideas." He proceeded to share posts dedicated to all different paper crafts, some more complex than others, including scrap paper mosaics and paper wreaths and pencil box bouquets.
In an interview with CraftyStylish, Rudell claimed to have begun playing with paper when he was 7 years old. So, you might wonder, after all this time, how will he keep things fresh on Making It? Well, first of all, he's created a career out of creating things from paper, so he's pretty good at it. But, he told CraftyStylish that the best way to keep his ideas fresh continues to be challenging himself. Rudell said:
"I am fortunate in that I have had the pleasure of working with many extremely creative art directors and editors. Added to that is my habit of frequently saying yes to the many harebrained projects they propose. This is not to say that I always meet with success (if only) but saying 'yes' gets me past the 'CAN I do it?' hurdle and then all that's left for me to figure out is 'HOW to do it?'"
Rudell is not just a craftsman, either. He's also a storyteller with The Moth, a podcast and radio hour that broadcasts stories about the real lives of real people. So, if he needs to continue to challenge himself and his experienced paper crafting ways, Making It is a place to do it.