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Formative work

When I was little, I dreamed of being a professional artist like my father. I had this vision of myself as an artist (ahhtist?) — hair blowing in the wind, heart brimming with inspired, mystical energy that would move me create exclusive masterpieces in my large, brightly lit studio.

While that’s a lovely vision, it really doesn’t jive with my reality as a working artist. Putting food on the table via my craft means working as efficiently as possible. It means being disciplined and working every day (even when I’m not particularly “inspired”). It means balancing creative time with administrative time — and it means doing some degree of production work.

When I started selling my handwork, the mere mention of production work bothered me. I dislike repetition and the idea of assembly line art. “Producing” seemed counter to “creating”.

My dad had a different take. Rather than production work, he viewed it as formative work. He saw value in those little projects, and the way that repetition hones your skills.
As I grow older, I realize how much I agree with him.

Many of my simple designs remain popular — but I still enjoy (and learn from) creating them. Each time I make one, it calls me to focus on shape, color and detail. It challenges me to improve my existing ideas, and to explore new lines that are more graceful or expressive. This study, these skills become the building blocks (and often the inspiration) for my larger/more involved work.

I’d love to tell you that every time I sit down to my workbench, a brand new design masterpiece just leaps off the table — but that’s not how it works. For me, “inspiration” is most often a gradual process that evolves from simple (and consistent) work.

When I was a kid, I imagined that this lifestyle would be far more glamorous than it is. What I could not have imagined, is how much satisfaction I would find in the ‘boring’ parts ;o)


This is a sample of what my worktable looks like right now:

(okay — my worktable isn’t really this tidy, but it *is* piled with masks!).

At any given time, I usually have several masks & crowns in various stages of completion. The ones shown have been sculpted & painted with a base coat; they’re now awaiting finishing details like accent colors, glitter, beadwork & feathers.

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Letting go & enjoying the rain…

I had big plans to catch up on my photography this week, but I guess the universe had plans of its own. On a good day, it can be tricky to for me get decent pics. Natural light seems to work best for shooting my beads & handwork — but my condo sits on a heavily wooded lot. Great for nice cool summers, not so great for sunny photo spots :o/

Unfortunately for me (or at least, for my photos) it’s been rainy and overcast all week. I made valiant attempts to get some pics taken anyway, but it just wasn’t in the cards.
The rain kept dumping, and the phone wouldn’t stop. The cats absconded with my DIY light box , and no matter how hard I cranked the gamma, there was just no hiding the fact that they were lousy shots.

I got intensely cranky before it finally dawned on me that the best thing would be to just let it go. I gave myself permission to stop worrying about all the zillions of beads & cabs I need pictures of. The new masks, crowns, cuffs and hairclips … they’ll keep 😉

Instead, I put finishing touches on the masks I need to send to NOLA — and played with some new designs I’m hoping they’ll like. I worked on my pages for the Bead Journal Project, and doodled & sketched new book/journal ideas which was fun and productive.

My books are rustic looking, which is the polite way of saying that they’re a bit crooked and bent

my 2002 journal ~ buffalo hide w/beaded fabric inset:
my daughter’s beaded/long stitched book

These new sketches are for more polished/precisely crafted books, but they should still retain that … special wobble that says hand crafted.
I’m so glad I started keeping a sketch book again, so that I can hold on to ideas that inspire me. I’m excited to try them out, but summer & early fall should be very busy for me. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to explore them again this winter.
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Peeking out from my cave…

At one time, I was very active in the internet beading community. The various bead forums introduced me to many talented artists and ideas. I formed treasured friendships, and took part in some really special projects. Being so “plugged in” kept me up on all the latest stuff, and for many years it was very inspiring.
Somewhere along the way, I hit a state of — oversaturation. As much as I enjoyed the many groups I’d become a part of, I found myself spending more time talking about art than creating it. I needed to step back and reconnect with my own creative voice. 
Today, I tend to be somewhat of a hermit. This isn’t entirely bad — solitude can be conducive to creative work — but I think it’s time to balance that out a bit. It’s easy to get lost in all that quiet thought, and I really miss connecting with other creative folk. Hence, this blog. My hope is that it will provide a positive means to:
* chronicle my creative pursuits and mishaps.
* reach out & learn what other artists are up to
To start, my goal is to update this thing (at least)bi-weekly bi-monthly. I hope to share my own work, as well as some of the people and things that inspire me.

Wish me luck! 🙂