I’m not sure if everyone gets asked how they got started in their job. I do know that it’s a question artists get asked every day. Maybe it’s because we chose a less traveled path. Maybe it’s hard to imagine that we spend all day every day doing our crafty thing. Whatever the reasons, every artist has had to answer that question more times than they can count. It’s right up there with “how long does it take you to make that?” (I’ll save that one for another day.)
Jen and I have been knitting together for about 25 years. Since I’m the one writing our blog, I’ll stick to my story for now. And there was no knitting in it until I was 25. My background was words and people. So not much has changed, really. An English and communications major in college, my plan was always to write. And over the years, I’ve done quite a bit of that. I also worked in several fields as a professional proofreader. Strangely, that’s the part that translated the best to my life as a knitter. I handle more of the repetitious knitting, saving Jen from the monotony that can crush an artist. I also worked as a mental health counselor and teacher, and that honed my skills for the art show circuit, and being a shopkeeper.
Back to the writing, though. It’s my not so hidden passion. In the early months of the pandemic, I tried out some online writing groups. When my mother suddenly died, we were locked down in our homes, and society felt on the verge of collapse, writing was one thing that helped me cope.
So I started my own writing salons. I’m still at JAK all day every day, knitting, steaming, and running the shop on Dock Square. But two nights a week I lead a group of amazing people from all over the country in a writing adventure, and there’s no telling where this will lead.
But in this blog post, it leads us to our first artist spotlight.
Introducing Ginger Allen. Ginger is a jeweler from Raleigh, NC who likes kombucha. (But don’t hold that against her.) We met in New York City moments before the world came to a screeching halt, and the attraction was immediate. Sure, she had us with her sweet accent, but her style is unique, and her work – a mix of sterling, gold, and gemstones – is unlike anything we have at JAK. She’s the kind of artist who never uses ruled paper, and her jewelry is one-of-a-kind.
Though we haven’t known her as long as some of the artists in the shop, I’ve had the privilege of knowing her better than most. Ginger joined in my writing salons shortly after they began, and we’ve been writing together for close to a year!
Like many artists, Ginger won’t be traveling the country setting up her tent and tables at art shows this year. The pandemic has been an impetus for a personal transformation, and she’s spending the year focusing on relocating her studio a bit closer to home (the basement), and continuing her work designing and creating bespoke custom pieces, along with her narrative collections.
Don’t worry. She won’t be lonely. Ginger’s creative life is supported by an amazing human and rescue dog family, and there is almost always something delicious cooking in her kitchen.
I asked Ginger if she could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would she go? I didn’t tell her this, but when she said “Provence, for the goat cheese, rosemary, and wine,” I started packing a bag to join her. I better pack one for Jen, too.
Find out more about Ginger at http://www.gingermeekallen.com