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The Tool I Can't Work Without    Tuesday, May 16, 2017

When you work with your hands, whether it’s in mechanics, woodworking, metal, or anything else, your tools become incredibly important to you; even when I was writing a lot, I had favorite a couple of favorite pens, and if I had to use a different one, things just didn’t go as well.  The tools we use are like an extension of our arms and hands.  And sometimes, of our whole selves.

This humble little bench vise is my favorite tool.  It’s battered and banged-up, and that hammering surface desperately needs some help. But of all the various items I use every day, this is the one that would break my heart if I lost it.

This vise belonged to my brother.  He was 10 years older than I, and he passed away from cancer when I was 20. He was the only boy, the middle child with sisters on all sides, and he was very much a “man’s man.” He worked as a logger, and loved working on cars and motorcycles and woodwork projects, and generally getting his hands (and face and clothes and everything else) dirty and greasy. Those dirty hands were his badge of honor for whatever he’d accomplished at the end of the day.

Not too long after his illness was diagnosed, he moved back in with our parents, bringing many of his belongings with him. The tools he’d accumulated made their way into our dad’s garage, to be used and loved. I had no personal use for the tools at the time, so I didn’t give them much thought. I started doing wire work about 10 years or so after that.  And so one year at Christmas with my parents, after most of the gifts were unwrapped, there was one left for me, without a “from” tag on it. And inside was the bench vise; my parents had found it amongst my brother’s things, and thought that maybe now, it might be useful to me. So they wrapped it up, as one last gift from my big brother.

So now it sits next to me every single day. I use it for hammering, for holding wire ends, and for all sorts of wire-work tasks that it most certainly wasn’t designed for (but works very well regardless). Every time I do, I see my brother’s face and his goofy smirk at the end of a long day, proud of his dirty hands.

 

The Simple Things    Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I've been finding myself a little stymied lately.  I have plenty of ideas. But somewhere between concept and execution, the idea gets out of control.  How can I make it bigger, more intricate, more impressive? It's not competition, exactly -- at least, not with anybody but myself. I'm not trying to impress any particular person or audience, or outdo any artist or group of artists.  But I get into an "expansion" rut, where everything has to be somehow bigger or better, more complex, more difficult to make, than the last piece was.

So in and amongst the "biggerbetter" pieces where I really challenge myself, I've started consciously making simple pieces.  It's kind of a challenge.  When you commit to simple, you don't leave yourself room to hide flaws; your craftsmanship has to be good, because simple designs will really let you know when it isn't.

This was one of the first of my recent "consciously simple" pieces.  It's basically the filigree design that I use behind stones and overlays in some of my pendants.  But without the stones and the extra flourishes, the wirework has to be fairly precise, or it just doesn't look right: 

Garden Gate Pendant
 
The wrapping up at the top of the square could be neater, cleaner.  But otherwise, I'm pretty satisfied overall with this piece.  It doesn't yell "WOW!" But it challenged me, in a good way, with the knowledge that I couldn't hide the messy bits with extra fru-fru.
 
And simple doesn't have to mean "blah."  I came across a lovely, unusal bloodstone cab with lots of yellow, smeared like daubs of paint, over the more common green. I didn't want to cover the stone at all, so I used a very basic woven bezel with no flourishes at all.  But I did indulge myself with a pretty bail:
 
 
And then there's my favorite "simplicity" piece.  This little labradorite was so pretty; it just needed something to hold it in place without distraction.  So a simple bezel and a simple bail: 
 
 
I'm still working on big, elaborate pieces, but it's just good to pare down now and again and make something simple and clean.  What's a simple piece that you've made that you're proud of?  Feel free to share links or photos in the comments below!
 

Blog-o-wrimo?    Monday, October 31, 2016

For a long, long time, as I might have mentioned elsewhere in this blog, I concentrated my creative energy on words and writing.  So it's a little ironic that I'm SO BAD about neglecting my blog.  Seriously, every time I sit down to write a blog post, I get nervous and I clam up, and I start sounding like some fusty academic. It's because it's a different kind of writing than I used to do; blogging is its own animal entirely, and it's a lot different than writing stories. There's the challenge of being informative while entertaining, and most of all, of sounding like you know what you're doing.

One thing I loved when I was writing ficton was a thing called NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month.  It's a lot bigger now than national, though.  It's a crazy, world-wide writing frenzy, where writers commit to putting down 50,000 words of a novel in one month.  The emphasis is on quantity, rather than quality, the idea being that you can go back to edit and polish later, once the frenzy is over. 

November's a busy time in the crafting and selling world, though, so I can't participate in NaNo the way I used to.  But I thought it might make as good a prompt as any to make blogging more of a habit for me, less of a hand-wringing, "that's-not-good-enough" exercise in insecurity.  

So for November, I'll be committing to posting an average of 5 blog posts a week.  They might not be great blog posts, but by golly, they'll be posted. 

Wanna join me?  Post the URL to your blog in the comments below so I can check yours out, too!

Creative Prompt: Doors    Monday, September 5, 2016

Sometimes I find myself doing the same thing in my work over and over, like minor variations on a theme. And while browsing gorgeous art jewelry on Pinterest and Etsy and the like can sometimes spur my mind into some fun new directions, I always worry that what I'll make from those inspirations will be derivative of somebody else's work.  So instead of looking at art jewelry for inspiration, I like to look to other sources.

Something I've always found fascinating is doors.  They're functional as entrances to buildings, and they're a very cool symbol in and of themselves.  They're associated with transitions, with beginnings and endings, birth and death, and rites of passage. And from the jewelry artist's perspective, they're a visual feast of shapes, colors, decoration -- a perfect melding of form and function.

This beauty right here: the graceful sweep of the metalwork, the way it joins and separates. And that arch shape the metalwork is lying on top of!  I can totally see a pendant made using those elements.

 

Or this!  I want to make a bracelet with the shapes from the windows.

 

This one speaks for itself!  I don't know if I can work this intricately, but it certainly gives me ideas!

 

I love how the stone work around this door draws the eye right to that pop of color.  And speaking of color--I'm feeling an urge to play with patinas after looking at this one.

 

And this one is so inpiring to me it's almost overwhelming. The shapes of the windows, the sculpting around the door, the metalwork -- so many ideas from this one photo!

So many gorgeous things!  For more beautiful doors, take a look online -- there's thousands of them!  Pinterest is a geat place to find beautiful door pictures, and there's a number of photo collections on Flickr dedicated just to gorgeous entryways.  

I hope these pictures and ideas inspire you as much as they do me. Where else do you like to find inspiration? Please let me know in the comments below!

I love podcasts!    Sunday, July 17, 2016

I'm a person who can't seem to do just one thing at at a time.  When I'm watching TV or movie with friends or family, I've got something in my hands all the time--a bit of wire, a pen and notebook filled with doodles.  When I'm doing laundry or washing dishes, I've usually got music blaring and I'm singing along (loudly. Sorry, neighbors!). And when I'm working in my little studio, I've always got something happening besides the project in my hands.

Lots of craftsy types I know are the same way. Some wire-working friends watch TV while they weave, and just about everybody I know makes music a part of their work.  For me, it depends on the type of work I'm doing at the moment.  If it's something mindless and repetetive, like making chain or weaving some Viking knit, I like to have something visual happening, Netflix or Youtube videos.  If it's something more involved, I need something I can just listen to, without having to glance up to see what's happening.  Being a giant book nerd, I love audio books.  A lot.  And lately, I've fallen in love with podcasts.

There's a new trend in podcasts recently: the serial narrative podcast.  These are like TV shows for your ears. Until not too long ago, most podcasts involved a bunch of people sitting around talking about a given topic; personally, even if I'm really interested in the topic, that's not my cuppa.  But in 2014, Serial was created; it follows one story, told one week at a time. Serial is non-fiction; the first season follows an investigative journalist as she explores a murder, its circumstances, and the fate of the young man convicted of the crime.  The format makes it feel relevant and immediate, and It's freaking addictive!

The show won awards, and lots of listeners. And other podcasters started to take notice.  And since podcasting is a wildly democratic form of entertainment--you don't need a whole studio of equipment, a cast of name-recognized actors, or corporate sponsorship to get started--lots of them have been popping up.  And it's wonderful.  

Quality of production and writing varies quite a bit, but the ones that are good are SO GOOD!  Here are a few of my favorites (be warned: I'm a sci fi, fantasy and horror junkie, so you're about to enter a Nerd Zone).

Welcome to Night Vale

This show actually predates Serial by quite a bit.  It's positively venerable, by podcast standards: it's been running now for four years, and has spawned live performances of the show, and one book so far.  From the show's website:  "WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.

Turn on your radio and hide."  

It's surreal and funny, and completely delightful. 

Alice Isn't Dead

Alice Isn't Dead is brought to you by the same folks who make Night Vale, and there's some of the same surreal feeling.  But where Night Vale is funny, Alice is creepy.

The description from the show's website: "A truck driver searches across America for the wife she had long assumed was dead. In the course of her search, she will encounter not-quite-human serial murderers, towns literally lost in time, and a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman."

It's beautifully written and narrated. I mean, serious beauty happens in the words of this show. I can't recommend it enough--but if you're easily creeped out, this one might not be for you.

The Black Tapes

The Black Tapes takes the fomat that worked so well for Serial and applies it to fictional characters and events--ghosts, demons, and the dark things that haunt the night, in this case.  This show follows an investigative journalist as she explores paranormal mysteries.  There are some very creepy moments, and the characters are excellent.  I binged the whole first season within a couple of days.  This show has a very X-Files feel, and from a die-hard X-Files fan, that's serious praise. 

Tanis

Tanis is made by the same folks who make The Black Tapes, and there's some crossover of characters, though the story lines are entirely separate. This show follows the main character as he investigates an obscure bit of mythology, which becomes less mythical more immediately dangerous as the show progresses. Conspiracies, hidden signs and clues, a magic cabin that appears and disappears in the woods--I still haven't figured out exactly what's going on, but I'm definitely enjoying getting there.

Limetown

Limetown follows (yet another) investigative journalist as she tries to solve the mystery of 300 men and women who vanished from a small town in Tennessee. I don't want to give too much away, but I will say this one leans more toward science fiction than toward paranormal or horror.  There's only one season so far, and while the creator says he's planning to make more, there's no word yet on when.

Archive 81

Archive 81 takes a different approach from the "investigative journalist" point of view that's so popular. Instead, the narrator of the show is a young man who has disappeared, and what you're hearing are the tapes he sent his friend just before he went missing. It's intriguing, and often funny, and quite creepy.

There are lots more excellent podcasts out there, but these are the ones I keep returning to. 

And as always, I want to know: what about you?  Have you listened to any of these?  Any others I should know about?  What do you like to do  while you're working? 

Meet the help!    Monday, July 11, 2016

Is this the picture of an internship, an apprenticeship, or some cruel form of slave labor?  The answer probably depends on when and whom you ask, I suppose. The person in question, a day when the boss is particularly busy and frazzled, will likely tell you it's the last of those.

This is my 14-year-old son.  His dad and I thought it would be a Good Thing for him to take on some of the responsibilities of a job this summer, but those are hard to come by for kids his age in our area. So we decided he could spend the summer working for his mom.

Poor kid. His boss isn't always easy to get along with.  Plus, the boss lady is kind of a perfectionist.

But he's doing great!  He's starting out making chain, and next he'll be finishing cords, making earwires, and making bead link chains.  

It's been a lot of fun (for me, at least) so far; we set up something we both want to listen to, and sit sort of back-to-back (that's the only way it works, the way the room is set up), and laugh and crack jokes while we shape and twist and bend the projects in our hands.

Valuable experience?  Well, thus far, it certainly has been for me.  And I hope that he sees it that way too.

 In any case, we're making lots of memories, and those last lots longer than any chain. 

 
 

Is it copying, or. . .    Monday, July 4, 2016

If you ever join an art (any art!) or craft forum, you'll find that one of the most frequently discussed topics is copyright infringement.  The discussions range from highly technical, informative posts, to angry rants--often within the same conversation.  But it’s for good reason we talk about it so often.  Copyright infringement is a real problem.  Artists and crafters have been sued and had shops shut down over using copyrighted designs, and other artists have seen copies of their work strewn about the internet without permission or compensation, which can greatly affect their profits, especially if the stolen work is used in a tutorial.  But something I’ve seen happening more and more recently is accusations of theft, when there’s very little to suggest that anything was actually stolen.  Sometimes what might look like theft really isn’t.  It can come down to similar tastes, similar influences, and sometimes just plain coincidence.

For instance, Not long ago, the very talented Corienne Bruner of Wired Whymsy posted her Viking Shield pendant design.  At that moment, I had a very similar design ready to be antiqued and polished.

  
     Corienne's pendant   My pendant

They're not exactly the same, of course--but they're put together with the same basic construction; mine just has an additional overlay over the top of the swirly shapes.  I know I didn’t copy Corienne’s work--I hadn’t seen that piece before I made mine.  In fact, I was doing a variation on a previous piece of my own:

And I know that Corienne didn’t copy me.  Her work is good enough and original enough that she doesn’t need to.  Her work is always very much her own, but we definitely share a similar aesthetic (which is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to what she makes; it’s very much my own taste).

Accusations of intellectual theft shouldn’t be made lightly.  It can lead to a lot of conflict between friends and colleagues, and just as copyright infringement can cause an artist to lose their livelihood, in some cases, false accusations can potentially land the accuser in court, having to defend themselves from charges of libel and/or slander.  So some things to consider, should you suspect that your work might have been copied:

1. Is it copying, or are you both inspired by the same things? Sometimes people are inspired by the same sources.  In the case of Corienne and me, we just have lot in common.  We’re both deeply inspired by literature, and both of us studied English language and literature in college. We both tend to work quite a lot with mythic themes and symbols.  And we both enjoy working in filigree styles.  It’s inevitable, really, that the two of us would come up with similar designs, completely independently of each other.  Another example of Corienne and I making similar pieces due to similar inspiration is our respective versions of the Triskele symbol:

Corienne's Triskele My Triskele

The two pieces look quite a lot alike, but nobody gets to own the rights to an ancient, well-known symbol.  And besides that, if you look closely, you can see they’re constructed quite differently. Zero copying happening here, no matter how similar the pieces may look.

2. Is it copying, or is it a case of influence? Sometimes one artist influences another -- and while that can lead to outright copying, influence and copying are NOT the same thing.  And really, it’s a desirable thing. The lines of influence leading from one artist to another and another keep the art dynamic and lively, changing to suit current fashions and tastes. A variety of influences keeps an art form from becoming stale.  It’s also inevitable.  If you make your work public, and other artists like your work, your work will unavoidably impact some of the decisions they make when making their own pieces.  Maybe they love your flowing lines, or the neatness of your bail, or the way you combine colors.  They will, consciously or unconsciously, incorporate some of those elements into their work.  But this IS NOT the same thing as copying. Taking a single element, or even an overall style,  and working it into a different design is influence, but it isn’t copying.  And influence needn’t be a conscious thing, either. If you’re like most jewelry artists, chances are you spend quite a lot of time scrolling through Pinterest or Etsy or online forums, looking at all the different ways that different artists make those pieces.  Your brain stores each and every one of those images, and whether you’re aware of it or not, delivers them up when you’re working, solving problems of construction or design.  And sometimes, those influences are apparent. But that doesn’t mean an artist is outright copying another.

3. Is it copying, or is it a similar overall “look?”  This is, to my mind, one of the grayer areas of influence/copying/inspiration.  Sometimes somebody sees a piece and wants to create a similar visual aesthetic, but does so using different methods and different details. And very frequently, this isn’t a conscious decision on the part of the “copier” (see the previous paragraph). This is one area that has caused quite a lot of conflict in online communities -- one artist accusing another of copying the overall appearance of their pieces.  But the fact is, none of us gets to own a “look”; we only get to own our individual designs. Consciously imitating a general style may or may not be ethical; that’s a decision that each individual has to make for themselves (I tend to feel that imitating a style is not unethical, so long as the artist is trying bring their unique vision to it).  Most artists, even when reaching for a similar aesthetic, do indeed make that “look” uniquely their own when behaving ethically.

4. And finally, if you’ve determined there is indeed copying going on, ask yourself how much this copying hurts you as an artist.  Sometimes it’s not at all.  As somebody who writes tutorials, I expect those pieces to be copied.  In the terms and rights included with each of my tutorials, I ask that every artist who makes that particular design mentions the tutorial where the pieces are displayed.  Sometimes somebody forgets to mention the tutorial, and while I feel that crosses the line of ethical/unethical, it doesn’t usually hurt me enough to pursue it (unless the same artist “forgets” repeatedly).  But there are some artists out there who will take the tutorials others put out, and make them free to the public, or sell them in competition with the very artists they've stolen from.  That absolutely needs to be pursued; it’s beyond the line of what I can tolerate as an artist.  And that’s a question that every artist might answer differently, and needs to answer for themselves.  But always, always keep in mind that accusations of theft involve lots of conflict and stress, and if taken far enough, can involve lots of money and time as well.  So if you’re not very, very sure that you’ve been copied, it may be best to hold off on those accusations.

So these are some--just a few--of my thoughts on a very contentious issue, and it may be revisited here from a different angle in the future..  Remember that all of this is just my opinion, and should not be construed as anything like legal advice.  What are your thoughts?  Let me know in the comments!

Big thanks to Corienne Bruner of Wired Whymsy for allowing me to use pictures of her work here.  You can find more of her work at https://www.facebook.com/wiredwhymsy/, wiredwhymsy.etsy.com, patreon.com/wiredwhymsy and wethreewitches.storenvy.com.  Go check out her stuff, because it’s beautiful!

 
 

For pity's sake, don't feed the Oops!    Saturday, August 1, 2015

There’s a gremlin that follows me around.  He moves my glasses, hides my wallet, takes my keys (he seems to have a special fondness for the key to my mailbox). He’s lived with me for years, since my college days. He lives mostly on caffeine, disorder and procrastination, all of which I generally have in abundance.

I’ve named him Oops.

My messy table
Oops has clearly been here.

Oops likes my tools.  Takes them when I’m not looking and returns them covered in gremlin slobber. Okay, so I’ve never found the tools with slobber actually on them, but I’m pretty sure he licks them.  Gremlin slobber is corrosive, you know.  That’s why my pliers break, generally at the least convenient moment.  And he plays with copper wire like a kitten plays with shoestrings.  Snarls and tangles and mystery loops, and once, what I can only assume was a gremlinish study of Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, the blues and yellows done in splashes of acrylic paint.

Oops usually stays out of the projects themselves, once they start to take shape and there aren’t stray beads he can steal to play marbles with the house imp next door.  He seems to find it all a bit boring once it looks like...well, like something other than stray beads and strands of wire. But he must have been feeling neglected or bored, or perhaps ate something that disagreed with his gremlin digestion, because he got into my Celtic Cross tutorial writing project in a big, bad way.

First, this happened.

Broken flush cutters
The gremlin broke my flush cutters!

Flush cutters really aren’t supposed to look like that.  I wasn’t even cutting anything heavy, just some 16 gauge wire for the frame of the cross. Nothing they’re not designed to handle, and nothing they haven’t handled hundreds--maybe even thousands--of times before.  They weren’t even that old, less than a year.  But snap, there they went, one blade flying up and hitting me in the forehead.

Fortunately, I have other cutters.  So back to work I went.  Then the little spring on my chain nose pliers broke. They’re my only chain nose pliers.  The spring isn’t essential (but not having the spring sure makes my hands tired), so I kept at it.

Then the notebook I keep all my measurements in went missing.  It’s flimsy and cheap, and when I found it again, a bunch of the pages were missing.  If I’m making something on the fly or just for my shop, I don’t really need the measurements; by guess and by golly generally works.  But for a tutorial, they really are necessary.  Very necessary.  And those pages were nowhere to be found (I still haven’t found

Bits and pieces for the Celtic Cross Tutorial

them).  I had to start over, measuring all my weaving wire.  Again. My wires snapped, way more often than usual. It came unspooled and tangled and kinked. Oops kept distracting me with mesmerising music and such, and I kept forgetting to take process photos of some of the steps. I had to retrace my steps and undo work so I could take the pictures.

I was planning a visit to my parents’ home in Iowa, and I’d hoped to be done with the tutorial before we left, but I wasn’t.  So I packed up my tools, my wire, my beads, my camera and my notes, and off we went. At my folks’ place, I set myself up at the kitchen counter and worked while we chatted.

Oops had a heyday at my parents’ house.  Tools disappeared to be found in unexpected places (like the potted plant I watered for my mother), beads spilled all over the floors (Oops really loves the sound of beads hitting tile, apparently), water spilled on tools.  He even started taking my mom’s things so she’d ask me to help her look for her glasses or address book or the scissors she’d just had in her hand.  Progress was slow.  I mean….s...l...o...w.  I still wasn’t done when it was time to leave, although close enough that the end was (finally!) in sight.

One of those VERY NECESSARY process pictures

But when we got home, I couldn’t find my camera.  My camera!  I looked everywhere, turned the house upside down.  All of my process pics were on the memory card.  And I still had pictures left to take in order to finish the %*@! tutorial. And then my mom called and asked if the camera sitting on her kitchen counter might be mine. Oops, true to his gremlinish nature, had obviously taken it out of my bag and hidden it there before we left.

I won’t lie. I cried. My husband, desperate to stem the waterfall and to avoid Panicky Wife Syndrome (a condition in which the wife alternately weeps, wails and blames the nearest bystander, most often the beleaguered husband), overlooked the budget and made a trip to the electronics section of the closest big box store and got me a stand-in so I could finish up.  Bless him.

Oops must have been tired from all his shenanigans, and let me take the last few photos in peace, and didn’t even mess too much with the computer while I edited the text and made the PDF file.  He’s even left me alone for the last couple of days while I worked on other things.  I think he’s worn out, frankly.  I’m certain he’ll be back and up to his antics before too long.  

But if he’s wandered away and comes to your house looking for pretty, shiny things, and asks for some coffee with a side of chaos, for pity’s sake, don’t feed the Oops.

The Celtic Cross, all finished now that Oops is done partying.

 

Not Just for Six Year Olds! (or, On Coloring Books and Why I Love Them)    Saturday, July 18, 2015

Finished mandala from Color Your Mandala by Cassandra Lorius

It’s official.  Coloring books for grownups have become A Thing.  Try a web search for “adult coloring books”, and you’ll get over 3 million results (and most of them aren’t even naughty!).  News sources like the Associated Press and Huffington Post have been noticing with articles like this one here.  Joanna Basford  has been getting a lot of credit for starting a new trend. Her Enchanted Forest and Secret Garden are bestsellers (and rightfully so!), but to some of us, coloring for grownups is not new. Not new at all.

I started doing the “grownup coloring” thing years ago. I was newly married, stressed out by a difficult job and toxic workplace, and worried about money. I used to spend a lot of time online looking up random information that I thought might be of use to my writing (instead of actually writing).  I was reading one day about mandalas and came across a free, printable “color your own mandala” page, so I downloaded it. I colored it and found it to be truly relaxing -- the best de-stresser I’d found.  And I liked the end result enough that I made a cover for my journal out of it.

I found quite a few other places online with downloadable, printable pages.  It became a relaxing, satisfying way to keep my hands busy. Most of the places I found free resources were either from “coloring therapy” sites or from more New Age, meditation-oriented pages.  Both made total sense to me.  The repetitive motion and gentle focus of coloring a picture are wonderful for calming anxiety, and those same qualities certainly induce a meditative feeling.

From Color Your Mandala

These days, I sit with a coloring book pretty regularly.It’s a good way for me to take a break from a difficult piece of wire work; when I shift my focus from whatever’s frustrating me in my work to the simple pleasure of coloring in shapes, I find that I can come back to my workbench with a clearer perspective of the problem at hand and work out a solution.  

Coloring provides a different kind of creative outlet for me than wire work or writing.  It’s not something I feel any need to show to anybody else -- it’s always just for me. It feels whimsical and comforting, with zero pressure to “get it right.”  But it also enhances my other creative endeavors.  I sometimes choose a coloring page that has shapes I want to incorporate into a jewelry piece, and I can experiment with color combinations to create different effects.  Story ideas, too, just sort of “happen” when I’m coloring, or I’ll have a little flash of insight into how I want a character or plot to develop.

Plus, it’s just plain fun.

Finished Mandala from Color Your Mandala

And, as always, I’m curious:  do you color?  If you’re interested in trying it out, check out these pages:

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/jun/19/secret-garden-colouring-in-adults

http://dicebird.com/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ZentangleHouse

http://intheplayroom.co.uk/2015/01/09/grown-up-colouring-books/

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ChubbyMermaid

 

Writing the Artisan's Statement    Saturday, July 11, 2015

When I went to college, I was planning on being a full-time fiction writer.  Yeah, that didn't work out for me.  But I learned a lot of useful stuff.  In one of my final writing classes, one of the things I was required to do was to come up with an artist's statement. It was an essay in which I described my writing process and analyzed my writing itself.  I had to examine why I wrote, how I wrote, and what I wanted my writing to become.  It seemed a kind of pointless exercise to me at the time, something that I did just to fulfil an academic requirement. But it turned out to be a Good Thing.  It forced me to look at my work objectively and to put into words my own aspirations and goals.  After I wrote that statement, I found myself becoming more conscious of my style choices, which gave me greater control over them.

Fast forward a decade or so (yeah, we won't get into how long it's been), and I find myself thinking that doing the same thing with my jewelry and wire art would also be a Good Thing, and for the same reasons.  To crystallize in words the choices I make and the choices I wish to make when it comes to my art.  

It's a useful, enlightening exercise, and I encourage anybody who makes any kind of art on a regular basis to do it!  It needn't be perfect.  It doesn't need to have perfect spelling or be in paragraph form, unless you plan to make it public. I promise, you won't be graded. It DOES need to be in words, because human beings think in language, and putting things in language makes things more real to us. 

Here are a few things to consider when you write your own artisan's or artist's statement:

  • Why do you make your art?
  • What inspires you to make your art?
  • What is unique or special about your art?
  • How would you describe your artistic style, in one sentence, to someone who's never seen it?
  • And finally, what goals do you have for your artistic future?  Not business goals, those are separate.  But in what direction(s) do you want your art to grow or improve?

And that's all there is to it.  If you polish it up, you can use it as a bio, because these are the things people want to know about your art.  It can help you to create a consistent "brand" for your business.  And in ten years,  you can look back on it and see how far you've come.

Have any of you written up an artist's statement?  Did you find that it affected your work? Let me know in the comments below!

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