Meet Caroline Whittington of Giant Lion
Today on the journal we connect with Caroline Whittington, founder and creative behind Richmond-based fine jewelry line Giant Lion. Hear about her creative process, how she started working with jewelry, and what her ideal time spent recharging and resting looks like --- then join us as we host Caroline for First Friday's June 2nd from 5-8PM at the shop.
Caroline will also lead two fine jewelry making workshops at Phosphene on Sunday June 11th. Tickets go on sale to our newsletter subscribers first on Thursday May 18th at noon, and to the public on Friday May 19th. Don't miss out on this special occasion!
What does this season of life look like for you?
I start almost every day with yoga and a walk in nature or around town. I make a point to cook a healthy breakfast and then I start my work day- whatever that entails. Some days are designated for emails and packing orders while others are spent in production or preparing for an upcoming market. I like to start the day early so I can end my work day early and be as present as possible for my family. In addition to being a jewelry designer, I am also a mother, a musician, and a partner to a musician, so there are several things and various schedules to juggle on any given day- gigs, band rehearsals, workshops and pop-up markets, playdates, and school functions, to name a few. Regardless of what we have going on each day, family time is a huge priority so we always try to spend our evenings cooking at home and having dinner together. We usually end the day with family game time or reading time.
Above: Caroline of Giant Lion
Tell us a little about your creative process and background in working with jewelry.
I have always loved jewelry since I was a little kid, but I am not a maximalist by any means. I think my love for jewelry originated because it held sentimental value as my jewelry collection consisted of gifts from family members, particularly my grandmother who I was very close with. I always loved stones, fossils, and crystals, and learning about where they came from and what meaning was associated with them, this was a big hobby of mine as a child. The arts was an area in school where I was able to thrive and develop confidence, so I decided to keep pursuing it. In 2009, I graduated from VCU with a BFA in Craft and Material Studies where my focus was metal work and ceramics. I loved both equally at the time, but I ended up pursuing jewelry. Jewelry connected so strongly with me because of the associations I had with particular stones and connecting them to people and experiences in my life. I wanted to create pieces for other people to be able to make the same connections. I officially started my jewelry line in 2011, as an homage to sentimentality, nature, personal connections, and reminders.
Above: A selection of Caroline's Jewelry working with precious stones.
Could you share with us any specific works of art, literature, music, etc that have been inspiring to you recently?
Human connection and our interconnectedness with nature are my biggest inspirations. We ARE nature, yet we so often forget this. Reading is a great inspiration to me and I am usually reading a few different books at once. Listening to audiobooks as I work brings me a sense of comfort as aside from working markets and pop-up events, I mostly work alone. Ram Dass lectures and audiobooks are in regular rotation, and my favorite physical book that I am reading right now is The Alchemist. I find myself spending an absurd amount of time with each page because it is so beautifully written and thought provoking. It definitely lives up to the hype!
Can you describe your workspace? How has your workspace evolved alongside your work?
My workspace is my home office which houses my extensive gem collection and raw materials, a perch for my cat, books, my guitars, windows that look out to the trees surrounding our house, and a small workspace for my 7 year old daughter. My workspace has evolved a lot over the years and at one point many years ago was a large industrial studio I rented with no windows (cringe)! For a long time I thought I needed to work outside my home in order to get anything done, but for the last few years I have been working towards slower paced and more mindful living. This feels more cosmically aligned with my work and I feel really fortunate to work at a pace that feels healthy, alongside my daughter making her crafts and my partner creating his music in his office down the hall.
Above: Caroline's home work space.
What are some of your favorite objects in your home?
My books and my guitars are my favorite objects in my house, along with my extensive herbal collection. I have various recipes for all sorts of herbal concoctions and my pantry is very sacred to me because of the connection and passion I feel towards plants and food. I love to cook and create new recipes for my family and friends with an emphasis on nourishing and ethical foods. I also (naturally) have a great love for crystals and shells and you can find them placed in every room in our house. My favorites are the ones that were gifted to me from friends.
How would you choose to spend alone time if/when you get it? What does an ideal day of rest and recharging for you include?
Any alone time is most often spent reading or playing guitar/writing music. I am a self taught musician and have been writing songs for the last 18 years, shortly after I learned my first guitar chord. Journalilng and my yoga practice are also very important to me, as well as working on my meditation practice. Working for yourself can be really hard, and sometimes it feels like you never really get a day off, but I make a point to aim for one "real" full day off a week. A day of recharge would be moving very slowly, spending time outside staring at the trees and clouds, cooking nourishing foods, moving my body, reading, conversing with my daughter and hearing her thoughts on life, and ideally ending the day with a movie night with my partner, we have a long list of classics we'd like to get through!