If you’ve seen the giant crocheted strawberry hanging in front of Fayetteville’s Walker-Stone House, or just down the street caught Maxine’s “yarn bombardment,” or seen the “Yarnography” installation, you know how not talented and creative artist Gina Gallina, now of Fayetteville but formerly of Eureka Springs, may be. She answered some questions for Maker Space about life as a creative.
Q: Tell us a bit about your work. What are you creating?
A: I’m a crochet artist (aka fiber artist) and I crochet things that are useful, like hats, sweaters, mittens, mufflers, doilies, blankets, potholders, scarves bacon with fried egg hand warmers and chairs. I also crochet big fun visual pieces like giant six foot strawberries or pineapples, Maxine on Block Street and huge snakes. I once crocheted a Queen Bee prom dress with beautiful, whimsical flowers adorned with bees. I am currently crocheting a six foot tall flower garden, which will soon be revealed in Springdale in April 2022.
Q: When did you start thinking of yourself as an artist/creator/maker? What are the first things you remember creating?
A: It was in 2012 when I crocheted a huge stuffed deer. I just wanted to create something outside of the crochet norm. I had a lot of reactions from my friends, and that fueled the fire afterwards. Also, I was going through a very difficult time and crocheting was the perfect outlet to channel that unsettling energy.
Q: Where can we see/buy your work?
A: Through me on Facebook at facebook.com/ginargallina. I sometimes use Etsy, but it hasn’t been that successful. I crochet constantly, so message me anytime to see what’s in the jar. I also take commissions.
Q: As a writer, I sometimes get writer’s block. Do you experience “creator block” and, if so, what kinds of things cause you to overcome it?
A: I’m going to practice my knitting. Or sometimes watching movies inspires me. Either a color combination, or someone’s outfit, or the typical crochet afghan on the sofa will inspire me. I see it often – in “Wayne’s World” there is a large hexagonal blanket on the couch. I remember being excited to create it. I’ve made a lot of hats inspired by seeing them in the movies.
Q: What is your favorite part of the creative process?
A: When it’s done. I love being in the zone and the rhythm that crochet provides, but my mind is still on the finished piece. When it’s over, it’s the rush. Immediately I think, “What happens next?”
Q: Was there a teacher, relative or friend who particularly encouraged you to pursue your art?
A: My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was 8 years old. I have crocheted all my life. I used to make hats and bags, until the internet shut down in 2007 – and it went on for days. That’s what kept me coming back fiercely. So much so that I didn’t care if the internet was working.
Q: Were there any reactions to your art that you found particularly moving or memorable?
A: I like it when people say my job makes them happy.
Q: How has your work changed or evolved over time?
A: Well, as a crocheter my stitches are much better and I think I’m always up for trying new things.
Q: Who are the other artists/creators who inspire you?
A: There are so many. But for the crochet world, I’ll go with Olek. She is the only crocheter I know who has taken yarn to the level of fine art while demanding an emotional response.
I also love Lily Chin because she’s just amazing and fun fact she’s the fastest crocheter yet. I’m very fast, but she’s about 13 points ahead of me, and I can’t catch up with my life.
I also admire Sam Barsky. He knits these amazing landmark sweaters, Rubik’s cubes, ant farms to name a few. They are priceless works of art. As coveted as they are now (not for sale, but it has prints on T-shirts), these sweaters are going to go down in fiber history. It will be interesting to follow their future.
Q: What’s one tool you can’t live without in your studio?
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
A: Sometimes getting what you want is the biggest punishment.
Q: Has rejection ever affected your creative process? To explain.
A: Of course. Rejection and failure are not always personal. It is better to use it as a tool to see things differently. I continue to crochet. I can’t make everyone happy and a lot of people don’t want to be happy.
Q: If you could change one aspect of society through your work, what would it be?
A: A better platform to sell items! And to abandon the “grandmother” idea of crochet. The last time crochet was popular was in the 60s, and now these people have all become “grandmothers” – but today, all ages and genders are crocheting. It’s awesome.
Q: Do you have any advice for a new creation?
A: Do not follow other people’s habits. Create by yourself.
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Follow Gina Gallina and her art on Instagram @ginarosegallina.