Sunday, September 18, 2016

the (im)perfection of things

I struggled to write this post because I wanted it to be perfect. How ironic is that, a post about imperfection that I want to be perfect? It just goes to show you how we stress about something we can never achieve. Trying to be perfect will kill your creativity and your desire to try new things. What's more ironic is that I love rusted steel, peeling paint, and wonky ceramic mugs. There's something magical about them. Here are some of my favorite quotes and images of things imperfect....

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” –  Salvador DalĂ­

abandoned building

“To escape criticism – do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Elbert Hubbard

cracked concrete

“Better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” – Robert H. Schuller

rubble wall

“There is a kind of beauty in imperfection.” – Conrad Hall

Peter Volkos - ceramics

“Usefulness is not impaired by imperfection. You can still drink from a chipped cup.” – Greta K. Nagel

chipped cup

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” – Anna Quindlen

rusted gate

 “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen

dried and cracked clay vase

“I do think imperfection is underrated” ― Helena Bonham Carter

Japanese boro cloth

"Nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, nothing is complete" - Wabi Sabi

Sunday, September 4, 2016

they can’t say she didn’t sing

My husband and I went to the movies last night and we saw Florence Foster Jenkins. It is an enjoyable movie and Meryl Streep was brilliant as the socialite/soprano who was mocked for her flamboyant performance costumes and notably poor singing ability (Wikipedia). But this post really isn’t about the movie as much as it is about Jenkin’s love of music and can do attitude. Some say she was in on the joke but most thought she had no idea that people were laughing at her. Any creative person who puts themselves “out there” in terms of their music, art, writing, dancing, etc. understands the risk involved. Talent is subjective to a point and we all want to believe our work is good enough to continue the fight. But how do we really know and does it matter? Streep’s last line in the film, "People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing." And isn't that the way it should be....

Sunday, August 28, 2016

the conversation of things

Every couple of months I get together with a friend and over a cup of coffee we catch up on what’s going on in our lives. We talk about work, travel, husbands and life in general. But because we both make jewelry we talk about business, marketing and different fabrication techniques. It’s an enjoyable couple of hours and the time flies by. A couple of things I recently shared that I thought I’d mention here are two of my favorite books on living a creative life.

I’ve reread both books several times and any time I’m stuck or avoiding my studio I turn to them and they help me break the funk I seem to be in. I think this happens to all creative people at one time or another and both these books are a simple and fast read to get me back on track.

The other thing we have in common is our love for tools, particularly hammers. My friend keeps her hammers in a drawer but I like to keep as many tools visible in my studio so I don’t forget what I actually have at my disposal. So I built this cart that sits next to my work bench with an assortment of my most frequently used tools. Not only is it handy but helps keep me organized and helps keep my work surface clean which can really become a mess rather quickly. Plus it just looks cool. At least I think so.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

the lesson of things

I spent the last 8 days at an art retreat. As expected, most of the workshops I took were in metalsmithing but a couple of them were in subjects totally unrelated. One class was in book binding where I learned to do the Coptic stitch and the other was rib basket weaving. Yes basket weaving. I know it sounds strange but there are reasons I do this. Sometimes we get tunnel vision when we focus solely on our primary means of expression. I find that trying other forms of being creative allows me to see new possibilities with my art. Plus some of the techniques I learned can be translated to working with metal. So if you're a potter, maybe try glass blowing and if you're a painter take a wood carving class. You will be amazed at how it will get you to look at your work with fresh eyes. I can't wait to get back in my studio and try out some of the things I learned but first I need to unpack my car. I think I took half my tools with me.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

the zen of things

I’m not a practicing Buddhist but I’ve always believed in their teachings that suffering and disappointment are caused by our expectations and attachment to things and ideas. Over the years I’ve tried to incorporate this philosophy into my life, sometimes successfully and sometimes not. But something interesting is happening to me lately, I’m feeling very content. I’m usually wary of saying such things so knock wood. They say there are seasons to life and maybe this is the season of my content because lord knows there have been many of discontent.

Perhaps this blog which is more like a journal for me is helping sort out my thoughts because I look back at things I’ve written and think that’s not quite what I meant. It’s hard for me to put my feelings into words.

My new state of mind may also have something to do with aging. For a while we fight the notion of getting old and then realize that it’s inevitable so we might as well get on with life and do what we can. Or maybe it’s a combination of things.

I’ve been spending more and more time in my studio, designing and fabricating my jewelry, and I’ve become aware of this new lightness of being. It happens while I’m doing the most simple of things like shaping or filing a piece of silver. And without realizing it I become part of what I’m doing. My mind aligns to the movement. I give no meaning or label to these sensations. I accept my thoughts and release them. No judgment. I’m in the moment.

It’s not the only time this happens. This may sound crazy but there are some days when I choose to do the dishes by hand instead of placing them in the dishwasher. Filling the basin with water and watching the suds rise from the squirt of dish soap and then dipping my hands into the warmth and cleaning each glass, each plate and each cup, I become one with it.

And so I’ve realized that if you don’t attach an outcome and an expectation that an activity or event must make you feel a certain way and you do away with your definition of things; making art, washing the dishes, going for a walk or pulling weeds; they all become the same. I’m someplace out there but still here. Each activity just is and I just am. Mindful. Aware. And maybe that’s the reason for my contentment…I’m letting go.