Chatham@Work | CHANA MEEKS, Wild Women Chasing Periwinkle

Posted 8/23/19

Chana Heins Meeks was born in San Diego — her father was stationed in the Navy there — and grew up in Sanford, graduating from Lee County High School in 1980. She’s part-owner of Siler City’s …

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Chatham@Work | CHANA MEEKS, Wild Women Chasing Periwinkle

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Chana Heins Meeks was born in San Diego — her father was stationed in the Navy there — and grew up in Sanford, graduating from Lee County High School in 1980. She’s part-owner of Siler City’s Wild Women Chasing Periwinkle, located at 134 N. Chatham Ave. — a co-op of talented ladies who create beautiful and creative (and functional) works of art. Wild Women is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Saturdays. “We always have something interesting going on,” Meeks said.

What’s unique about her job? “That I’m able to create the inventory that I sell in the shop,” she said. “I’m a potter, painter, and weaver...I make leather and copper cuffs and key chains and hand-painted market bags. I’m always trying something new.”

She and her husband Andy have lived in Chatham County since 1990. A dog, Skeeter, lives with them. The couple has two sons: Heins, who lives in Wilmington with his wife Rebekah and daughter Addie, and Kurth, who also lives in Wilmington with his fiancee Carli Williams.

First paying job?

My first paying job was as a keypunch operator at the Carolina Bank in Sanford. I worked after school into the evening punching into a “computer” the transactions for the day. I learned all the “firsts” you’re exposed to with this job. Be on time, be dependable, do your best, work etiquette...it was an awesome experience.

Most difficult job?

Most difficult was as a customer service representative for a long distance telephone company. Back in the day when you joined a service where you received a code for making long distance calls. As a customer service rep, we dealt with billing issues, unidentified numbers, fraud, some polite people, but mostly angry. Wasn’t all that difficult, but not always pleasant.

What’s the most unusual special request you’ve gotten from a customer?

As an artist, I’m always getting special requests...which I love! I love the challenge of making something that’s special just for you. I can’t say it’s an unusual request, but one of my favorites are the hand sculpted mugs (I call muglies) — it’s a mug or flower pot that can look like you or someone you know. I work from a photograph and sculpt a caricature of you into the clay.

What’s the most surprising thing about your work?

Most surprising? Hmmmm... I don’t think most people realize just how much time or materials go into an original piece of artwork. In clay, there’s the kiln, tools, wheel, drying space, glazes, and clay, of course. Yes, I can make a mug in a few minutes: however, before I can fire that mug,I have to make enough pottery to fill the kiln. Well...I guess I could fire one piece, but I don’t! It can take weeks before the process is complete. Not to mention (in any medium) all the pieces or paintings that didn’t make the cut. If I’m not happy with it, it will never be seen.

What advice would you give someone looking to go into the same line of work?

This is the best job ever. I work at my own schedule (although, I often have deadlines to meet and it can be stressful). I look forward to working in my studio. I often lose track of time and work well into the evening. When you’re on a creative roll....you just have to go with it! Surprisingly, tomorrow it might not be there, you can have days that nothing works. Recognize when you need to take a step back and refocus. It’s OK!

What’s your go-to order at a coffee shop?

Cortado

Where do you want to retire?

To my camper. I love, love, love traveling around in remote places exploring, looking for photo opportunities to use for reference material or to set up and paint “en plein air.”

What’s better — starting or finishing?

That’s a difficult question...you’ve gotta start somewhere and hope that the finish is what you envisioned or be pleasantly surprised.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs

Heard a good clean joke lately?

“What never asks questions but receives a lot of answers? A telephone.”

Was there a toy you wanted as a child but never received?

Not a toy, but I wanted a horse.

Best use of a snow day?

Hiking in the woods, following animal tracks, building a snowman, snowball fights, and making snow cream.

What’s been your greatest travel adventure?

Going from North Carolina to Alaska in my camper for the summer. We explored almost every road you can travel by car and camped in some of the most beautiful places.

Best one-day trip?

To Wilmington to visit my granddaughter.

Favorite snack?

Apple dipped in peanut butter.

Anything you collect?

Arrowheads and gemstones.

Favorite book?

Lonesome Dove

What talent do you wish you had?

To be able to play guitar and sing.

Would you rather explore space or the deep ocean?

The ocean floor for sure. Sunken treasures, seashells, interesting creatures, unexplored worlds...

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