Janice Keeler knows a thing or two about dreaming. It wasn’t that she wanted to land in San Antonio, Texas, all those years back in grad school, but she met her husband and that was that. She made the best of things and had an excellent career in education. Janice helped design a school for medically fragile children and was principal for 25 years. She kept a dream going though, a distant spark of desire to have a studio of her own to make fiber creations and hats, jewelry and trinkets to delight, and a place to live where it was cool enough to enjoy them.
Janice and her husband Charlie bought their property off of Garren Creek Road in 2003. Looking for a place to retire and build their dream, they hoped to live where there was a symphony (their twin daughters are both musicians), an artistic community, a place with good trout fishing, golf, and hopefully in the mountains. It’s not hard to see why they settled here. When they came to look, they didn’t find anything that met their needs — pasture land, elevation, a creek — until the very last day. The instant they saw the land that is now their homestead, they looked at each other and just knew, and so they bought it. They came out when they could, on vacations and such, and built the house, barn and studio. The Keeler’s daughters, Aurora and Amanda, moved into the house in 2006 to attend college. Janice retired two years ago and joined them, settling into her studio. Finally Charlie joined them last spring. They are a close-knit family and are grateful to be reunited and to be realizing their dreams. Janice states, “There is a foto grande and you weave in pieces of that picture from time to time. Sometimes it takes many, many years, but if you’re a patient person, things can come together.”
Janice named the studio and the property Edo Creek after the high culture period of extended peace in Japan, a time known for it’s exquisite gardens. At the park-like Keeler’s garden, vines ramble, flush with 20-pound butternut squash. Janice’s studio welcomes on the eastern side of the barn. Inside it is cozy and dappled with light shimmering through a stained glass window, a Tiffany reproduction of a peacock her staff gifted her with when she retired. There’s a work station for her beading and a plentiful display area for her creations.
Janice knits or felts alpaca fiber into hats that bend and flow just so, fit just right, ornamented with appliqué, creative stitching and the occasional whimsical feather. They are artful and toasty warm. I was not immune to their charms and walked out with one that called to me with a sultry whisper. I imagine it will be warming my head a great portion of the coming winter. Janice also makes beaded jewelry and eggs and stones covered in Washi, a rare fiber paper she picked up when the Keeler’s traveled to Japan years ago. A lovely blend of east and west flavors all of her work.
Janice is forming a class in January to teach felting techniques, taking students through the steps from raw fiber to finished decorated hat. It will be offered on two successive Saturdays, one session to felt the fiber and shape the hat, the second to teach decorating techniques.
Hats off to Janice for bringing her dream to reality! These mountains are fortunate to have her warmth and talents. Still to come? Horses may live in that barn someday, maybe even an alpaca or a pair of peacocks. Janice has dreamed all of these things, and so they may come to pass. No hurry though, being the first Thanksgiving living under one roof at Edo Creek, the Keeler family has a lot to be thankful for.
Janice’s work can be found at the Grove Park Inn’s Gallery of the Mountains Boutique and Asheville Homecrafts at the Grove Arcade. Call 628-8618 to make an appointment or sign up for her class.