At 16, Jackson Cook is confounding expectations. The Year 11 Duval High School student is one of only six known male quilters in Australia – a rarity in a craft usually associated with little old ladies.
“Sewing’s not just what grandmas do,” Jackson said. “There’s colour, there’s more creativity than ever. There are no limits!”
Jackson will be sharing his passion at CraftAlive, Australia’s leading regional craft and sales expo, in Tamworth from September 7 to 9.
He will teach three classes a day, showing students how to make a rope bowl; a square bag; and, in a combined class, a coin purse and tissue holder.
“I’ve designed the classes to really show people that you can have fun sewing, you can actually achieve, and it is easy to achieve,” Jackson said.
He encourages total beginners to do the classes.
“I want to show them they can sew, although they think they can’t,” Jackson said.
“I want people to leave my classes with a feeling of success and achievement, and hopefully inspire them to go on and create even more. Sewing isn’t something to be scared of; it’s something to be proud of!”
Spots are filling quickly, so you should sign up on the CraftAlive website (https://www.craftalive.com.au/events/tamworth/) soon.
This is the first time Jackson has taught at a professional event, although he used to teach students at Rita Showell’s Fabric Fair shop.
“I’m looking forward to hanging out with crafty people, and meeting new people,” Jackson said.
Jackson has an offer to win a double pass to CraftAlive.
He also wanted to thank sewing machine manufacturer Bernina for sending six machines for him to teach with.
“They're one of the best machines on the market,” Jackson said, “and to have them sending down six machines is pretty special.
Jackson bought himself a Bernina 350, a small but quality machine, to do more intricate sewing last year.
“It allowed me to really let loose my creativity,” he said.
He made textile artworks, and a patchwork quilt for the Armidale show. He was awarded a prize for Business in the Armidale Regional Youth Awards in 2017.
This year, he entered two quilts in the Sydney Quilt Show’s Years 7 – 12 section. Quincy (an elephant) received second prize, and Tumbling Down third prize.
This quilt, made from Tula Pink fabric, showed a different animal in each panel, including frogs, seahorses, foxes, octopuses, birds, bees, snails, and otters.
“This lady came up, and went, ‘Oh my God, you're Jackson! It's like meeting a rare exotic peacock in the wild.’ I felt kind of special when she said that. I'll undertake that name.”
He spends at least three hour a day quilting. Jackson was 10 when he started sewing seriously. His grandmother made him a lumberjack hat, and he wanted to learn how it was done. Three attempts later, the boy proudly showed her his creation.
Four years ago, he started his own line, House of Jackson. He began making hats for winter markets, selling his wares from a curtain fabric table. His sign was originally three hand-drawn owls on a log.
“It’s the most bogan logo you’ll ever find!” he laughed.
Christmas stockings, novelty owls and pencil cases, bibs, and baby blankets soon followed.
Two years ago, he changed his logo to a meerkat.
“That's really become the face of House of Jackson,” he said. “Wherever I go, bam! there's Mr Meerkat. Meerkats are always looking for something new, and they're adventurous, and explore. That's similar to me. And meerkats are pretty cool, and sort of smart!”
CraftAlive runs at Tamworth Regional Exhibition Centre, from September 7, 9.30am to September 9, 4pm. For more information, visit https://www.craftalive.com.au/events/tamworth/