Community Feature Q&A: Jill Halimi

I have treasured getting to read more about other makers and shakers, I hope you have too. Today, Jill from @jillhalimi agreed to take some time to reflect on her journey and give us a window into her chunky, bright, whimsical world. 


There is no cookie cutter kind of maker. Some makers are full time and others do this in addition to their professions. What does your maker life look life?

My maker life is truly on a "hobby" level at this point.  I started this journey almost a year ago and have been overwhelmed by how much joy it has brought to my life.  I never considered myself an artsy person. I'm not someone who was ever creative.  This has not been ingrained in my life.  Yet now, it's all I want to do!  I do work full-time at a job I also love, supporting families whose loved ones have died and given the gift of life through organ, eye and tissue donation.  It's an amazing gig!  My maker life occurs at any chance I get in the evenings and on weekends.  My work happens in the garage when using my scroll saw and then the dining room table for finishing my pieces.  Like so many others, I dream of a workshop or studio.  At the very least, a dedicated space within our home would be fabulous!  Actually my husband and I have a dream of buying an old house where I can hold craft/woodworking workshops and sell my work, and my husband (who is a chef), can have a small, quaint restaurant.  He's also very creative and is actually the one who got me interested and encouraged me in woodworking.  While I had the opportunity, I just thought I'd put that dream out into the universe for anyone listening :)!


Your hearts are one of your signatures- I would recognize them anywhere. What's the story behind the first ones?

Thank you for that compliment that you'd recognize them anywhere!  That means a lot!  Last summer I was working on a piece and I added a small, wood veneer heart to it that I had purchased.  It felt flat and had no character and was waaaay too perfect.  I wanted more dimension and texture, as if it had been around for ages, and so I made one.  I've never been a "heartsy, cutesy" kind of girl but fell in love with making them and marvel at how differently each one turns out.  I have difficulty making the same thing over and over but my hearts, I can!  They also allow me to use every color possible, which I love and never tire of!


Frequently there are references to the "maker community." What does that mean to you and do you have any advice to give to newer makers on good ways to begin to plug in and connect?

It still blows me away that I'M a maker myself!  Yet I'm definitely still a newbie and am continually learning.  Being a part of the maker community, to me, means that you create something that fills you with pride using whatever medium you choose and that you open yourself up to sharing it with others.  That can be scary but also very liberating.  The first thing I would say is that this community is AWESOME!  I've found nothing but support, inspiration and a cheering team.  Something that I did right away was to reach out to makers who's work I admired.  I became immediately drawn to what I was seeing scroll saw artists do before I had a scroll saw or even knew what it was and tapped into those makers first.  I also found local Minnesota makers and connected, even attending my first #makermeetup when I certainly didn't feel like I deserved to be there.  But that wasn't true.  If you have an interest, a passion, even just a curiosity, put yourself out there because you do deserve to be there to learn, to grow, to explore, to be inspired!  And don't wait until you're 50 like I did!  I really wish I had discovered this passion in myself earlier in life yet also am a firm believer that all things happen in due time.


Let's dream BIG a minute. If I asked you to make me a 6ft x 6ft @jillihami original of anything you wanted (and you had all the time and money you needed) What does it look like?? 

Ooooohhh, that's an easy one!  I would make a big, chunky piece, with all different shapes and sizes of scrap wood pieces, using a multitude of color!  I would sand, paint and distress the heck out of that thing, giving it an aged, primitive, folk art feel.  I'd want people to believe it was naturally worn and had been around for years.  There'd be texture and layers and nothing perfect about it!  At all.


So pretend that your having coffee with someone that has considered sharing her art but is feeling shy. What do you tell her from across the table?

I would tell that person to go for it!  Life is short, what have you got to lose?  As long as you are proud of it, and it makes you happy to create, that is all that really matters.  Inevitably others will like it too.  Social media, to me, feels like a safe place to share.  You can hide behind your phone or computer.  Fortunately, I haven't received anything but compliments about my work.  It makes me sad when I read about other makers being ridiculed for their work.  While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there's no reason to say something nasty.  Clearly those comments come from another place within the person who would say such things.  You do need to have somewhat of a thick skin yet everyone has a right to express themselves through their art in their own way.  If you don't like it, you don't have to look at it.  For me, it's still strange to think of myself as part of this community I once only admired, yet haven't regretted a single moment of putting myself out there in this way.  Look at it as an opportunity for growth and learning, if nothing else!  You don't want to look back and wish you had shared that which is within you.


Do you want to give a shout out to another shop that has inspired or supported you along the way?

Most definitely!  Shelley from @lemontreestudio reached out to me very early on last summer not only to compliment me on my work but also to place a custom order!  She has been nothing but supportive and encouraging.  I had already been admiring her work and was beyond thrilled when she reached out.  She has offered to help me in ways I haven't even taken advantage of, at least not yet :).  I love the explosion of color in her work, meshed with her quirky style, and the energy she puts off.  You can't help but smile when you see her work.  She also embraces the imperfections in art, something that's a must have for me!  She's a true gem and I feel very fortunate that she saw something in my work from the very beginning and has been cheering me on ever since!  Thank you, Shelly!  Of course, there are so many others but she jumps out immediately.


Check out more of Jill's current work at @Jillhalimi

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