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Artist profile: Jennifer J

Editor's note: Jen wrote to me about macrame with beads, and then told me that her primary job is dairy farming!  I love it when I meet artists who have other interesting things that they do!  If you'd like to contact her to discuss her work further, or to commission a piece, you can email her.   Here's Jen's story.

I've always done something with my hands, and I believe it comes from my mom's side. Her dad was an "Old World" cabinet maker, and loved to work with wood. My mom has done "crafty" type things since I was little. She taught me basics on knitting, crocheting, and sewing, but my first love was drawing. I was accepted to the Art Institute of Chicago, but never went. If hindsight is truly 20/20, I'm glad I didn't go, because, I would have never found out about the world of dairy cattle!

I played around with wire in junior high, and made name bracelets to sell to classmates (in the mid 70s). I got some seed beads somewhere around the same time, and the first thing I did was a daisy chain. I didn't sell any on those though, and not long after, learned a little macrame from a neighborhood friend. I got my first craft store job a few months after I graduated. I picked up on various needlework such as needlepoint (including plastic canvas), crewel/regular embroidery, counted cross stitch, painting--had a little instruction from co-workers that taught classes there, but am mostly self taught, did a little of stained glass, macrame hanging planters, a table and some odd ball macrame stuff.

The second craft store was owned by a couple, rather than a chain, so there were a lot more items to play with. I did more sewing (the other store didn't have any fabric), slacked off on the crewel, and went crazy with plastic canvas. That store also had yarn, so I made a bunch of sweaters, crocheted collars (wore lots of those), and who knows what else, and also did more painting on fabric (did loads of custom shirts!). There wasn't a big selection of beads for jewelry because most of it was the plastic kind.  I also learned to do florals, but it was due to a second job I worked at for various holidays. Needletatting with beads is something else I learned, but only made a bracelet. Now, I just piddle around with whatever I feel like. I got really involved with beads over ten to twelve years ago, and just make simple things to sell at a few craft bazaars, or wherever.

What it all boils down to is this: I'm a dairy farmer, so that takes up a good portion of my time, and am not able to pursue selling anything elaborate, or go to various shows. My mom will do a couple of bazaars, so she'll take my stuff with her. I have a friend who does a lot of the same things I do, and she has taken some of my items to a few bazaars as well.

I just got something going with friends who make cheese (they have goats), and they recently added cow's milk to their cheesemaking (goats are now dry). The first batch was offered for sale in mid November.  They are really excited to expand what they have, and will have to offer at both their shops, and so am I! It was roughly a year in the making, and just in time for the year end holidays.

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