Monday, July 18, 2011

I Am An Artist

I don't know the types of creations you all make - jewelry, sculpture, photography, woodwork, quilting, painting - but is there some word that others use to describe your work that makes you want to scream?

For me - it's "stringer". I sometimes get called a bead stringer rather than a jewelry maker. That goes right to my little insecure head. Yes, I string beads - after I buy them, envision a piece, select a clasp, try one pendant then three more until it feels right, wire wrap, decide on a statement I want the piece to make, change the color scheme, adjust the length, re-vision the whole thing and then maybe I'm happy with it. Or maybe it goes in the pile of not quite ready.

I imagine for all creative people there is a little insecure spot. We are putting out souls into what we create and then putting it out there to be judged. Will they love my work? Will they think it's horrible? Will they think I'm off?

How can they not see and value the hours of thought and feeling and love that went into that piece. How can they not feel the joy I feel when I look at my work?

What's the word that cuts right to your insecure core?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

When The Muse Has Left the Building

You know, those days when you get up and you look at all your wonderful supplies and all the bright colors and all the silver and all the pendants and you go, Yuk. Nothing is coming to you, you’ve lost total enthusiasm, and creating something amazing has become a chore. Like mopping the kitchen floor.

Had one of those days a week or so ago. Only that day lasted for three. Just could not muster the creative energy. Creating beautiful pieces of jewelry became a “job”.

That day I was “children sitting” for a 5 year old girl and a 9 year old boy. They decided they wanted to make jewelry. Well, watching them sort through the beads, hold each and every one, turn them round and round in their little hands, rub them against their cheeks, listen to the sounds of them, there was Joy and Wonder and Amazement. They felt the magic I couldn’t find for myself.

They made their selections, they chose carefully, they strung them, took them apart, restrung them, chose a clasp, rejected that one, went for another. And each change brought wonder to their eyes.

I helped with the clasps and the crimps, but the pieces they finished were all theirs. And they smiled at each other and the laughed and they modeled their pieces and they were happy.

And the next morning, the Muse returned!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Future of Craft Shows -- Is There One?

(Photograph from the Mattoon Festival in Springfield, MA 2010. One of the best shows we do each year.)

In the past year we have been to at least two "craft" shows that billed themselves as juried shows. We submitted the requisite details of our process of creating our jewelry and photos of our studio. We were happy to be selected and when we arrived at the shows and finished our laborious set-up, we decided to take a stroll around and meet the other artists. Sharing with other artists is so much a part of the creative process. Makes the creative juices run.

Imagine our shock to find booths full of buy/sell merchandise. At a juried "arts & craft" show? How does this happen? Are there not enough artists to fill the booths? I find that hard to imagine. It is less difficult for me to imagine that some artists have decided that craft shows are too much work for the benefit. Maybe so, but there are so many jewelry artists clambering for spots in shows that for as many that do not want to sign up, there are ten to take their place. Are the vendors playing bait and switch with the show organizers? Could be but then why aren't they being asked to leave as soon as their merchandise is seen? I don't have answers to these questions. Maybe some of you do, and if so I'd love to hear your take on this. I know one thing - when true aficionados of actual hand crafted items show up and see lots of buy/sell merchandise, they leave. And they tell their friends. What's that old saying about restaurants? If you have a great experience you tell one person but if you have a lousy experience you tell ten. Craft show organizers need to take note, and see that in the end they are harming themselves (and their fundraising efforts if applicable) as well as the artists that they purport to support. Terry