GILLETTE, Wyo. — Beckie Avery bought a circular saw for a small project.
That was seven years ago, and it’s spent that time sitting unused in the garage.
Like many people, Avery has found that self-quarantining at home during COVID-19 has been a great time to put it to use.
She had recently learned how to use the saw and change its blade for depth, but having extra free time definitely has given her time to create with it.
Avery usually spends her free time acting in community theater, but that’s been postponed for the year, the Gillette News Record reports.
“All my extracurricular activities dried up,” she said.
So far in her quarantine Avery has made a plant stand, a new pantry door, a cat walk and a shiplap wall.
“It’s been very therapeutic,” she said, even though it flares up her carpal tunnel.
The activity hasn’t been easy. Just like any new skill, learning it has been a process.
She was so excited to finish and hang her new pantry door until realizing the hinges were on the wrong side.
“I’ve made so many mistakes,” she said with a laugh. “There is a learning curve.”
Her goal is to build a deck. But as a single mom she isn’t quite sure how to do that.
“I don’t own any nail guns,” she said. “I only have the rudimentary tools like a hammer, saw and drill. But that’s what I’d really like to do.”
Having many days, weeks and the possibility of months in this new now of COVID-19, it could happen.
“In my head it usually goes perfectly,” she said. “But that’s not always the execution.”
Overcome and adapt
Delilah Carter has run DC Photography for many years. Like many small businesses, hers was abruptly halted because of COVID-19.
“I specialize in maternity and newborn portraits,” she said. “So I can’t have any sessions.”
She bought a Cricut machine to make signs for her photo sessions, so she brought it back out to use in a new way: custom printing T-shirts.
“I pick up a craft and it keeps going and going and going,” she said.
Carter created a vinyl print from a design she bought and then she transfers it onto a shirt. If the shirt is white, it’s very simple and straightforward. But if the shirt is darker or colored, she must bleach it first to create an area to transfer the design. Those take hours.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “Not one is the same.”
She has made shirts for her twin daughters who help choose designs like pineapples, “Hello Summer” and softball gear, in honor of the sport they are missing most in quarantine.
Her favorites, though, are a Tom Petty hoodie and a shirt that says, “Mommin’ Ain’t Easy.
Between homeschooling her five children and running the house, Carter has made 100 shirts.
She is having so much fun doing it she plans to add it to her repertoire.
“As long as I have time, I don’t see me stopping,” she said.
Not a half-baked hobby
Most people know Ariane Jimison as one of the creative geniuses behind Pizza Carrello. But before the pizza place was born in Gillette, Jimison was a professional potter.
Jimison and her wife, Rachel, moved to a new home in October and like with many moves, some boxes remained unpacked as they settled into their space.
Now with the extra time at home because of the coronavirus, those boxes have come out of storage and Jimison converted the couple’s garage into a pottery studio with a wheel and a kiln.
As COVID-19 wreaks havoc across the United States, businesses were closed and people told to quarantine in their homes. Jimison has calmed her anxiety by doing what she does best: creating.
It started with several bottles of open wine. She could have poured herself several glasses but instead made wine salt. She boiled the wine down until it was a thick, syrupy consistency, and for lack of a better term, marinated salt in the syrup. She made a couple of flavors. Not only did she create the salt but she created salad recipes to feature them.
She spent a lot of time looking for the perfect jars to put the salt in but none of them spoke to her. So she made them — 50 ceramic jars, each with a fitted lid.
The first week in quarantine Jimison wasn’t sleeping, so she would sneak into her warm studio and get to work. She made pottery for 40-plus hours.
“It’s keeping me busy,” she said. “I’m used to being busy.”
Next she has made items for her house, mostly things she can cook in, like a big ceramic roasting pan and oversized 24-ounce cups to drink water from while gardening.
She passes time with her hands stained with clay, molding pieces into exactly what she wants, meditating on where she has been and where she is going.
“It passes time and it allows me to focus on something really intentionally,” she said. “If you have anxiety, I am a strong believer creativity can help get that out.”
She has used this time in quarantine to get back to her roots while still thinking of pizza.
For her it’s a chain reaction. Her mind is allowed to clear while working with clay. Then when she logs into a meeting about policy and procedure for opening her restaurant in a safe manner, she has new and creative ways to problem solve.
“I’m seeing old and new problems in a different way,” she said. “It’s a full circle of creativity.”
Pizza and pottery, pottery and pizza. It’s all the same to her.
“When clay gets hot, it changes. It completely transforms. You can’t eat clay and you can’t eat raw dough,” she said.
Epiphanies of beautiful metaphors of how pizza and pottery relate to life inspire Jimison every time she sits down at the wheel.
Before she left the pottery world 10 years ago, she sold a lot of plates. Ironically, the word pizza has roots meaning “plate that you eat.”
She used to think about how the plate looked. She wanted to make the most beautiful piece of art for someone to have in their home. Now, she thinks about the durability, about how it will hold up, about how the food will look on the plate. The art is the food on top of the plate.
“I don’t think I would have ever gotten to pizza if I never did pottery,” she said. “It helped me understand thermodynamics.”
Loading pottery into a kiln is a lot like adding a pizza to a wood-fired oven, she said.
“I’m in some sort of freaky heaven right now,” Jimison said. “But I’m also really ready to get back to work.”
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