COVID-19 isolation brings out creativity for some in Wyoming

Ariane Jimison, co-owner of Pizza Carrello in Gillette, usually spends most of her time at the restaurant, but with the business closed by the COVID-19 pandemic she and many others around Wyoming are turning to creative pursuits, such as her former profession as a potter.

GILLETTE (AP) — Beckie Avery bought a circular saw for a small project.

That was seven years ago, and it has been sitting unused in the garage ever since.

But like many people, Avery has found quarantining at home during the coronavirus pandemic to be a great time to try something new.

Some have turned to old skills like pottery; others have picked up new skills, like making T-shirts. Avery knew how to use the saw and change its blade, but the extra free time gave her time to create with it.

“All my extracurricular activities dried up,” said Avery, who usually spends her free time acting in community theater. But that has been postponed for the year. So far during 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 the saw can make her carpal tunnel flare.

Just like any new skill, learning it has been a process. “I’ve made so many mistakes,” she said laughing. Avery was so excited about her new pantry door she didn’t notice the hinges were on the wrong side until she went to hang it.

Her goal is to build a deck, but the single mom said 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.”

With days, weeks, maybe months of quarantine ahead, it could happen. “In my head it usually goes perfectly,” she said. “But that’s not always the execution.”

Delilah Carter has run DC Photography for years. She specializes in maternity and newborn portraits, which she certainly can’t do during a pandemic.

So she pulled out the Cricut machine she uses to make signs for photo sessions to put to use in a new way: printing vinyl designs she buys and transferring them onto T-shirts.

“Not one is the same,” she said.

Her twin daughters help choose the designs, like one of pineapples, the words “Hello Summer” and softball icons in honor of the sport they miss the most.

Carter’s favorites are a Tom Petty hoodie and a shirt that says, “Mommin’ Ain’t Easy.” Which must be true between homeschooling her five children and running a household. Still, Carter has managed to make about 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.

Most people know Ariane Jimison as one of the creative geniuses behind Pizza Carrello in Gillette, but before that she was a professional potter.

When Jimison and her wife, Rachel, moved to a new home in October, they left some boxes unpacked as they settled into their space. Now with the extra time at home, she pulled those boxes out and converted the garage into a pottery studio.

As COVID-19 wreaked havoc across the United States, closing businesses and keeping people at home, Jimison was having trouble sleeping. Jimison has calmed her anxiety by doing what she does best: creating. So she would sneak into her warm studio to work.

“It’s keeping me busy,” she said. “I’m used to being busy.”

She has made a lot of items for her house, like a big ceramic roasting pan and 24-ounce cups to drink from while gardening. Passing time with her hands stained with clay, molding pieces exactly, she meditates on where she has been and where she is going — while still thinking about her pizza operation.

It’s a chain reaction. Her mind clears while working with clay. Then, when she logs into a meeting about reopening her restaurant safely, she finds 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. Epiphanies about pizza, pottery and life come to her every time she sits down at the wheel.

Before getting into pizza 10 years ago, Jimison made and sold a lot of plates. She used to think about plates all the time. She wanted to make the most beautiful piece of art for someone’s home.

Now, she thinks about a plate’s durability, about how it will hold up, about how food will look on it, how the art is the food on the plate.

Interestingly, the word “pizza” is related to “plate that you eat.”

“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 putting a pizza into a wood-fired oven.

“I’m in some sort of freaky heaven right now,” Jimison said. “But I’m also really ready to get back to work.”

For copyright information, check with the distributor of this item, The Gillette (Wyo.) News Record.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Please note: Online comments may also run in our print publications.
Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Please turn off your CAPS LOCK.
No personal attacks. Discuss issues & opinions rather than denigrating someone with an opposing view.
No political attacks. Refrain from using negative slang when identifying political parties.
Be truthful. Don’t knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be proactive. Use the “Report” link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We’d love to hear eyewitness accounts or history behind an article.
Use your real name: Anonymous commenting is not allowed.