What’s new at the market are the magical creations of Gina Witz, owner of Stonewear Art.
The business began in April of this year. Gina says if you had told her a year ago she would be starting a new business, she never would have believed it.
One of our vendors/board members admired a little stone pendant with a flamingo painted on it that hung around her neck at a Home and Garden show and said, “Have you ever thought of selling those?” That got Gina thinking.
She began her work life as a “Girl Friday” — she was 18 years old and says she lied her butt off to get that job. She saw there was an electric typewriter in the office and she just had to get her hands on it. She sighed deeply and said, “I love to type.” This set her on a path that has mainly consisted of accounting.
A self-defined goal setter, she spent years working for others and then decided to go out on her own, at which point she was determined to match her earnings. In a few years that number doubled; then as the goal was set higher, she met it. She has been running her own accounting business for a few decades now and specializes in working with nonprofits.
This passion for challenge took Gina on a few side trips. In 2000, a co-worker challenged her to do a 10-minute stand up comedy routine. She did it and she loved it. This led doing stand up all over the country, from Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, on and on. She had to hire an agent who did all her booking. She tells me how she even made her way to a “Nick at Night” in a “Funniest Mom in the USA” competition.
A friend introduced Gina to the Painted Rocks of PA Facebook project and she thought it looked pretty fun. People paint rocks and “hide” them in public places. If you find them, your job is to take a photo and paste it on their Facebook page and then hide it again. Gina started painting them and hiding them. She says one of her best hiding spot was inside the ice cream freezer at a local grocery store.
Then came the challenges: People would challenge Gina to try to paint different photos they would post or animals for her to paint on the rocks to see if she could do it. She could, she painted the Port Angeles courthouse, a photo of a sunset and more. Then she ran into Vicki Swann, the business owner of Canine Connected, who urged her to join the market.
So this spring she got all the pieces organized and now she is thriving at the Sequim Farmers Market. She paints flora and fauna on a variety of sized rocks, including simply lovely little flowers and ferns or elaborate birds and mammals on larger rocks. She explains that she uses a magnifying glass while she paints, her detailed tiny paintings draw people in because they are beautiful. Each piece is coated with a special sealant so it can get wet and the paint will not smear or fade.
Having never thought of herself as an artist, Gina says that all the positive feedback is affirming. In her mind, all the artwork she has ever been praised for she always has thought to herself, anyone can do this — she has a delightful talent and her work exudes joy.
When I asked Gina how she plans to grow the business, she says she just wants to have fun with it and keep it simple so it doesn’t feel like work. She enjoys collecting the rocks at local beaches. So what is the next challenge? She is hoping to get to Costa Rica partially on her earnings from this side business.
Gina also is going to facilitate rock painting events/classes with the proceeds being raised for local nonprofits. The first will be for Serenity House! We are thrilled to have Stonewear Art at the market and hope you will come learn more and see her inspiring work.