Who The Folk?! Amy Rajkowski

Meet Amy Rajkowski, mother of three and ketubah maker. Word of her ketubahs have been passed on since the first one she made for her sister’s wedding in 2009. Now, she continues to make ketubahs while juggles her art-making with parenting and other jobs. Get to know her in this week’s Who The Folk?!

How did you get where you are now in business?

Well, I have a fine arts background. I did a lot of painting and drawing. I have a pretty strong Jewish background. I went to the Jewish Academy and then my sister got married in 2009 and she asked me if I would make a ketubah for her and just do whatever I wanted; just surprise her at the ceremony before the wedding where they sign the ketubah. I made one that was really special about her and her husband. When I gave it to them they were really excited. I thought that was really cool how I made them a ketubah that was all about them. Then one of my sister’s friends who was at the wedding called me a couple months later and asked me if I’d make one for her and her husband. It kind of just went from there like word of mouth.

That’s an interesting way to get into this line of work. Did you ever see yourself going in this direction?

Not at all. But it’s definitely fun to work with different people all the time and help different people. A lot of the times people will have some very, very vague idea of what they might like and it’s pretty exciting to help other people come to this conclusion and sort of see their idea come to life.

Is this your full-time gig?

Well, I have three small kids so that’s most of my time. I actually bartend and serve at the Radisson at Fire Lake, downtown. I’ve been there for like 13 years. It’s kind of nice I’ve been mostly working at night and now that I have kids, I work on call.

You said you have a strong Jewish background. How do you think that shaped your art and where it is now?

I think Judaism has a lot of strong imagery and uses a lot of symbolism. Depending on the couple and depending on what they want that’s not a part of it but sometimes they want a bigger part of it in towards the artwork. I’ve done things with pomegranates and I’ve done things like the chuppah or other parts of the seven circles. A lot of symbols from Jewish weddings. I think the Jewish symbolism is interesting.

How so?

Well, I think with everything in Judaism, there is a lot of wiggle room for interpretation. You can do things very literally or use it as a jumping off point and go creatively from there.

I’ve heard summer is wedding season. Is that true?

I think it’s always wedding season. Yeah, summer definitely is a time for a lot more people getting married.

Does this drum up business in the summer?

Maybe just a little bit but not necessarily. Maybe once in a while, I do a few more ketubahs in the summer but usually, it’s all year-long.

How do you juggle doing all these jobs?

A lot of late nights. I definitely work best under a deadline. I tend to do a lot of work after the kids go to bed and work in six-to-seven hour blocks.

What are some of the challenges you’ve encountered in creating your art?

Once in a while, you get a couple that really has no idea about what they want and just trying to help them work through what they like. I think what makes my ketubahs different than any of the beautiful ketubahs you can order online, I try to work with the couples and make it special to their life. This is going to be the first piece of art they’re going to own together as a couple. It’s something that’s going to start their life out together.

What’s your process if you come across a couple that doesn’t have a goal in mind?

I might start with where they met, places that are special to them or ideas that are special to them. When they start talking about it together, the ideas just start flowing.

So do you get to attend the weddings?

Actually my sister’s wedding was the only one I’ve been to where I’ve made the ketubah. I’ve definitely had brides and grooms send me framed pictures of their ketubah or send me a picture of their ketubah at the actual wedding which is cool. I always ask, “Please send me pictures. I want to see it on your wedding day.” You really get to know these people. It’s fun to see everything come together for them and how happy they are.

Do you have any ketubahs planned this summer?

I’m not working on anything at the moment. We just sold our house so we’ve been ion crazy mode for the last month. I’m hoping at some point my website will be updated. My goal for the future is to make some ketubahs that are a bit more general and try to do prints of those that people can have personalized with the text.

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