"People no longer use real maps to plan trips or find their way. We follow a straight blue line and miss out on everything else that surrounds us," says artist Jane Cousins, who will be exhibiting her work entitle Are You There? at Watford Museum this month. The 50-year-old from Hemel Hempstead is concerned about people's increasing reliance on technology and her works celebrate the beauty of paper maps by combining recycled textiles, paper and of course old maps.

The Coventry-born wife of children's author David Cousins hopes her exhibition will make visitors think again before throwing out those old OS Landrangers and A-Z guides.

Jyoti Rambhai spoke to the artist to find out more about her.

Can you tell me more about your exhibition at Watford Museum?

I responded to a call from the museum for artists to show work, and was delighted to be chosen. I have always loved maps, and keep finding myself drawn to making work using them in different ways. Using recycled materials is also important to me, so this often dictates the type of thing I make.

How would you describe your art work?

I collect old maps; OS, A-Z, Barnetts, local town maps, anything I can get my hands on with a map on it. I often combine them with other recycled materials – usually fabric - creating layers, which are stitched over to bring out patterns or textures, highlighting or hiding certain features. Some of the original map remains, while other parts are hidden or torn away to reveal other layers, such as other maps or street listings.

Do you own a satnav?

Well, there is one on my phone, but I’ve never activated it. You can see so much more if you study a proper map, and they don’t stop working up mountains and in caves.

What challenges have you faced with preparing work for this exhibition?

I am keen on research, so will spend a lot of time reading before I start work. This can mean that I have a lot of ideas and have to be quite disciplined in deciding which of them to follow, but that’s good as it means I have a huge list of things to do next.

As an artist, what medium do you prefer to work with or do prefer to experiment with them all.

Time and again I am drawn back to textiles, although I have done some lino printing and want to take this further as it reflects my love of line and contrast.

Is this your first exhibition, if not where else have you exhibited your work?

I exhibited two pieces at the Old Town Hall in Hemel Hempstead in the autumn of last year, and they both sold on the first day. This gave me the confidence to try to put more of my work on show.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I read a lot of books, being married to a children’s author (Dave Cousins) means that our house is full of them, but I tend to read mainly factual books: Tristan Gooley, Mike Parker, and Dixe Wills, are favourites.

I collect visual stimuli, and have kept scrapbooks of images that appeal to me, since I was a child. I have quite a pile of them now, like diaries of how my tastes have changed (or not) over the years. Pinterest is also a great source of inspiration. I also collect weird and wonderful objects; 1970s board games, mid-century ceramics, vintage tea towels and interestingly shaped pieces of wood, stone and glass!

Is there a particular routine you go through when it comes to getting into the zone before you start a piece?

I’m fairly down to earth and don’t really do ‘getting into a creative zone’, I believe that work develops from what you have done before, so try to put the hours in and keep a record of my thoughts as I go. Those ‘eureka moments’ also come from walking away and letting your brain process what you have done; sometimes you come back and something is staring you in the face that takes your ideas in a new direction. 6 Music and Radio Four are usually on in the background though, as they provide outside inspiration.

Where did you love for art stem from?

I drew a lot as a child, but moved away from drawing and into making as a teenager; making dresses from things like candy striped sheets. My mum was always sewing when I was young, and I know there have long been makers in the family as my dad has done a lot of research into the family tree and found seamstresses and shoemakers galore.

Growing up, did you always enjoy painting, drawing and being artistic?

My drawings were always very brightly-coloured and strong in their lines. I remember being upset when a teacher put my drawing of a purple alien the wrong way up on the wall. It was obvious to me, and my artistic sensibilities were offended.

What did you study?

I failed Art A Level at school, (I’m a maker, not a drawer) but went on to do an art foundation and degree in applied art at the University of Hertfordshire, as a mature student.

Are there any artists whose work you admire?

I love the thought processes of Richard Long, the stone collections of Sue Lawty, the minimalism and materials used by Sally Freshwater, Stephen Walter’s humorous maps, and almost everything Grayson Perry does, for his wit and skill. Oh, and Ian Phillips’ fabulous lino prints of parts of West Wales.

You mentioned you are also a wardrobe assistant – is this your main job? Can you tell me about what you do?

I am Wardrobe Assistant at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts. Although I work part time, I am often in for longer hours where needed, so it is certainly my main job. I help make and fit costumes, and sometimes act as dresser for the shows during performances. There are shows on all year round, from musicals and drama to ballet and contemporary dance. The job dovetails well with my making at home.

How long have you been working there for?

Since leaving university in 2010, so nearly six years.

Can you tell me more about yourself – what do you like to do in your spare time?

Apart from reading and collecting (hoarding!?) I am currently learning Welsh, as one day we would like to move to Wales, and it’s only polite to learn the language. I also play ukulele - very badly as I haven’t picked it up for about six months, grow fruit and veg in the garden, and have been known to weave willow baskets. I am a member of the local Green Party, and have stood as a candidate in local elections many times.

Do you have anything in the pipeline for after this exhibition?

I’m looking forward to a bit of a rest in the summer holidays, a trip to Wales (naturally), and have a plan to create a new set of work following on from my current pieces, focusing more on contours and rivers, possibly with a Mawddach Estuary theme, or more things using wire and grids. I would also like to have another go at some lino printing as I have a pile of drawings ready to play with.

I've just had a possible offer of an exhibition in Hemel at the Old Town Hall next year too, so that would be something else to look forward to hopefully.

Space2 Gallery, Watford Museum, Lower High Street Watford, July 7 to August 27. Details: 01923 232297, watfordmuseum.org.uk.