Jemma Olson, an Idaho-raised Rockwall resident, never thought she’d be part of a nationally broadcast crafting show hosted by two giants of comedy, but starting next Tuesday that’s exactly where she’ll be.
Olson, 60, is one of eight contestants on Nick Offerman and Amy Poehler’s new competition do-it-yourself show, “Making It,” which premieres on July 31 at 7 p.m. on NBC.
As a contestant, Olson will have her talents as a versatile craft-maker pitted against the same of seven other hopefuls across six episodes, testing their ingenuity and creativity in a number of challenges.
“I’ve been crafting for, oh, about 55 years,” Olsen said. “I grew up on a potato and wheat farm in Idaho, and back then, everybody did and made their own stuff.”
Olsen said her niche now as a professional craft-maker is heavily influenced by her upbringing in idaho, from the styles she explores to the media she employs.
“I like to work with glass canning jars a lot,” she said. “I’m not much of a canner myself, but growing up you’d just have rows and rows of cans for vegetables, jellies and everything.” Olson, however, often turns the jars to a different purpose, like holding flowers.
“I also like to work with fabrics and paper,” Olsen said. “I did a lot crewel and needlepoint when I was younger, but I still do a lot of embroidery. I really just like to take things some people think are old-fashioned and make them into something crafty and trendy.”
Olson’s path to the pilot cast of Making It was nothing less than fortuitous.
“I had gone to Puerto Rico to visit my daughter and her family,” Olson said. “I came home feeling ignited by the rich culture I experienced there, and when someone in a Facebook group for craft bloggers said a show is looking for a ‘crafting grandma,’ I got interested and went from there!”
While she can’t disclose the results of the season, which was filmed earlier this year, Olson had nothing but the best to say of the show, her fellow contestants and Offerman and Poehler.
“Amy and Nick both have such big hearts,” Olson said. “They were both down-home, delightful, wonderful people, and they were amazing hosts.”
While the show is a competition and will ultimately have a winner, Olson said she enjoyed the time spent with her fellow “makers” and the hosts more than anything.
“I did enjoy the challenges,” she said, “but I enjoyed my fellow contestants the most. I think what’s most important is that we were each trying to do our very best at crafts that mean so much to us, so there was a lot of camaraderie between us.”
Olson is back home in Rockwall now. Her husband Dave works in the Federal Aviation Administration’s litigation department, and her eight kids and 16 grandkids are spread near and far, all excited to see Grandma on national TV next week.
“We do a lot of crafting together as a family,” Olson said, “especially embroidery and crochet.”
Olson plans to add some new crochet crafts to her Etsy store, Jemma’s Home, very soon.
“I think that what’s most important to us makers, and what Amy and Nick wanted the show to communicate, is that we need to sit down at a table and craft together more,” Olson said. “We can connect a bit more if we just craft together, or play games together, and we’ll all be a little happier. Of course everybody wants you to watch the show next week, but then we hope it inspires you to get up and do something together.”