Andrea and Jamie Rogers, artists and craftsmen, mother and daughter, are sharing the full menu of life, its joy of strong family and sorrow at the sudden loss two years ago of a husband and dad. They also share artistic achievement. Andrea and her husband Jim moved to the Vineyard in 1986 with their three children. Joseph, who is 22, works for Brookstone Construction and Alisha, who is 24, is in New York city with Lancome beauty products. The best place to find Andrea and Jamie is at The Vineyard Artisans Festival, where Andrea is show manager and Jamie sells her crystal and silver jewelry designs.

Andrea Rogers:

We came to the Island because my husband, who was a pilot, rented an airplane and we landed at the Katama airstrip, stepped out of the airplane and we were at the beach. It reminded us of Long Island when we were kids and we really fell in love with it. My husband could do his work anywhere so we packed up the kids and moved. We’re happy here. It’s been almost two years since Jim died and I’m grateful that I’m able to stay. I’m grateful for a lot things today. The support system on the Island has been incredible.

I’m not sure whether Jamie will stay. She loves the shows but winters are tough without a full-time job. She does landscaping but even that ends too. So that’s going to be a challenge for her. But summers she’ll be here at least, doing shows with me. I know that much. And Joseph still lives at home. I don’t worry about them, they’re all good kids.

I sort of inherited the Vineyard Craftsmen, the oldest crafts group on the Island. I was the youngest and one by one they died off. But they had started a scholarship fund and I wanted to continue that so I kept it going. In those days if you enjoyed doing fine arts and fine crafts there was really no place on the Island to sell your work. You could sell wholesale to shops and work for half the money or open a gallery which is very expensive. So I wanted a place where Island craftspeople like me could go and sell their work at a reasonable price and earn a living. Today there are two-income families, everybody has to work. The festival took a long time to get going but after several years, we could pay the rent and advertise some.

There is a craft heritage between me and Jamie. I worked on crafts in the house and the kids used to make paper crafts and anything they did in school they brought home and they would make little things. I’d give them space at my booth and they would sell them, barely able to see over the table.

Jamie wound up doing jewelry, She’s learned silversmithing and forging. She’s got an old forge from Barney Zeitz that belonged to Travis Tuck, who was pretty famous here and she got an anvil from another guy.

I admire that she searched for a long time for what she loved to do and she could make a living at, then dove into it, She had the tenacity to stick with it even when it wasn’t easy to do. Her work is not mainstream. It takes a lot of courage and commitment to say ‘I’m just going to do this.’ Not everyone will do that, they just go work for someone else. In their memory that’s all the kids know, both of their parents were self-employed.

I don’t think anything will stop her now. She’s inventive and creative and does work no one has ever seen, it’s innovative.
She’ll wake up dreaming about something and the next day it’s on her worktable, finished. I admire that she’s using her talent and supporting herself. I think the world’s going to see a real special artist in Jamie. She’s going to do work that no one has ever seen. Her inventive mind impresses me. Lots of people have talent but Jamie’s an inventor. She’s not afraid to go where no one has gone. Ten or 15 years from now, I can’t imagine what that kid’s going to be doing. She’ll be very successful.

Jamie will probably laugh when she hears this but when she was little I used to make her repeat after me, ‘I will be patient.’ I’d say the first word [of that sentence] and she’d repeat it, then the second and so on. She’s not really patient about things. She wants it yesterday and you know that life’s not like that, But the mantra is kicking in. She’s learning that you just point yourself in that direction and don’t lose faith. Keep going and it will happen.

The first year after Jim died was just a blur. Everybody’s been changed, certainly me. You lean on each other more. You are more patient with each other. You’ll go further to help another. Before you might not have been so good but now you’re better. I saw Jamie become more patient with her brother and sister. If there was a problem she would step in, get them together and settle it. I saw her take over where there was a void and take charge of certain things, whether it was mowing a lawn, to make things easier. Whenever I needed to talk to her and there were some tough things to do, I could ask her and she said, ‘Yes. I’ll do it,’ and she did it. What she did was huge.

She’s like a little pioneer. She reminds me of my grandmother. The lesson for me is that you don’t plan your future. It may happen and it may not. I plan for today and just think about the future. All my kids have special gifts and hers is her little smile and loving nature.

Jamie Rogers:

Mom was the primary caregiver because she was at home and Dad was working a lot, getting his business going. She would encourage us, give us little projects to do. I remember having a little potting wheel when I was only five or six years old, making little pots. All of us did that and we would go with Mom to her craft shows and sell our things so we learned a lot from that.

Dad was a warrant officer, a leader. I think he was a W5 when he left the service. He taught us to keep on going, that we could do whatever we wanted to do. I remember that if he wanted to make something, he could read a book on it and just do it. It was a talent he had that showed all of us that anything can be done if you believe you can do it.

I admire her drive to accomplish the things she believes in, to keep on going no matter what. She has been very supportive of all of us. Whatever we chose to do, she would support that. I spent six or seven years looking for what I wanted to do.

She was at home, raising kids and getting the Artisans Festival going. I was off exploring and discovering. She may have been a little jealous that I was getting to do that so she was always very supportive and patient. I spent six years in Colorado, doing a lot of rock climbing. I’ve always liked crystals so I did some crystal mining and I noticed that the hippies out there were pretty good at wrapping them in wire. So I started doing that and it led me into silversmithing, then into smithing to where I am today with a studio to do my work.

I always try to make each piece of jewelry individual and unique. I like to learn new skills and to combine the skills I’ve learned in different ways to create different things.

I’ve gone to Penland Arts and Crafts School in North Carolina twice to learn silversmithing and forging and I applied for a place there this coming winter in a different forging discipline — it’s about learning how to weld metals — but it’s not going to happen this year. Maybe next winter it will.

I came back two years ago to help out the family however I could and I assume that I was meant to come back to the Island. I was on a different path from the Island where I grew up, Just a different path and I liked that but my path took me back here to help out, whether it was doing housework or helping Mom with her craft work or running her booth or with the fair and setting up my studio.

Today I certainly have much more patience with disagreements and everything else. Developing patience is something Mom’s always worked on with me. Things have changed a little in our relationship since I came back. We’ve always been close but we’re more like good friends today. There is a sense of sisterhood.

She knows me better than anyone else in the world and I’ve gotten to know her better through all this. She’s grown a lot in the past few years. She was more a stay-at-home person, now she’s more social. She goes out, even dances and she smiles more now, kind of rediscovering her youth and that makes me happy. Actually I’m feeling kind of old, trying to get my business going and working all the time.

We’ve talked about it and when she gets old, I get her.