Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Getting ready for open studio

I've been working on prepping my various pieces for the open studio on November 21st. This is one of my favorite necklaces -- using polymer clay and brass beads, and brass chain. It's in the "Moss" series.
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Open Studio and Trunk Sale

I'm hosting my first open studio and trunk sale this coming Saturday. I'll be selling beads, jewelry, home decor items, and crafty de-stash items. With my studio open to view, you'll see many of the tools I've made for working with PC, and how I organize the ton of stuff I've accumulated for my various mixed-media pursuits.

Here're the details:
Time: 11am to 4pm, Saturday, October 24th.
Location: 2210 NW 64th Street, Seattle (in Ballard).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Soul's Process

This month, Kristi Zevenbergen made a presentation at the NWPCG meeting. We saw slides of her work as it has developed over time. She talked to us about how she incorporates her life and psychological processes into her jewelry making process. It's great to listen to someone who is so aware of how who she is, is expressed in what she does.

It sparked me to consider how I might facilitate this process for myself and others. I've used guided meditations for my students to access images of a deep self in my mask-making workshops. A good question can guide a productive writing/sharing session. They are all ways to access that visual and symbolic part of our brain where so much wisdom resides...if we can learn how to understand it.

I believe that the soul speaks a language that differs from the one I'm using to communicate to you. An image that appears in a dream may have line and color, but it can also have a sort of taste or aroma, and a woven emotional presence. It can have so much within it that understanding all it contains may take years. I've been inspired by Robert Bosnak, the Jungian analyst who wrote A Little Course in Dreams. In it, he talks about how you can begin to decode the language of the dream.

Our art can use the images of dreams, the images from the soul. Kristi's work shows her soul -- and she knows it. Here's a wish that the work you do today will show your soul.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


One constant in my life is that I like to learn new things. I often forget how much I do, until I find myself in conversation with someone. My friend Carole is in town from Texas, and I mentioned some of the many jewelry classes I've taken over the last year. They add up! I've learned about etching metals, adding color to copper (with colored pencils), how to use a rolling mill, and more.

When I consider the time I spend reading blogs, magazines, books and tutorials, I'd say it adds up to about two hours a day. That's a lot of continuing education! So finally, I've scheduled some workshops where I am the teacher. Here are the descriptions:

From beginning to the end
You’ve got fantastic beads for a necklace or bracelet. Now what? Learn about knotting, crimping and clasps so your hand-made jewelry has that professional finished look.

Get wired!
Creating your own chains, clasps and wrapped beads takes a few tools, some wire, and practice. Come learn the basics, and go home with a pair of earrings and clasps for your own bracelet or necklace. Also look at an assortment of books on wire work.
Carole gets to be my guinea pig on Monday so I can test out my exercises on her. I like teaching, but tend to discount it for myself, saying to myself "oh, people could easily learn this online, why should they take it with me?" Then I remember that workshops are about more than simply learning a technique or project -- they are also about making a sacred space in your life for the activity, about reinforcing the notion that you deserve this time to devote to your creativity. It tells your unconscious that you value the inspiration it provides and that you are open to receiving more. And remember in a previous post I talked about "thinking is not doing?" Hands-on classes are just that -- schooling your hands to actually DO the technique, not just think through it.

I think there is also something therapeutic about working with your hands and eyes and heart -- humm, gonna have to think about that some more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The stories we tell ourselves

Stories. I've thought a lot about how stories fit into our lives -- they really help define how we see ourselves. There are the overt stories, I live in Seattle, I like to read, etc., etc.. Then there are the covert stories -- the ones we tell ourselves surreptitiously.

The story plaguing me most these days is "the economy is terrible, I'll never find a job." Its cousin is "it takes so much work to look for a job." And the terrible siren song "I'd rather be creating."

While they're covert, they don't even really try to be invisible. When I ask myself what the current storyline is, my self answers pretty readily. We have a nice agreement, self and I. I promise to listen when self talks. I just need to remember to ask!

I do KNOW how to do the work to overcome these negative stories, it's a matter of making the process conscious. And not beating myself up over my perceived "lack" -- to be as compassionate with myself as I am with others.

And with the proper synchronicity, Havi Brooks deals with that very kind of topic today -- remembering to use the tools I have. Because stories are not concrete unchanging things. I can tell them differently. I can take that magic potion, or change the atmosphere or the energy. I am the one making the choices. I can choose to suffer or not.

Stay tuned for new episodes of the story.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You're such an engineer...

Got into an interesting conversation at last night's NWPCG* meeting. We have a bunch of scientific types as members. Engineers who are project managers or cartographers, IT folks of various ilk, and so on.

It led me to think about brain balance again. I think the stereotype is that artists are all very non-linear, left brain types, and scientists are logical/rational right brain types. Of course, it doesn't really work out that way all the time. I'd always been pretty logo-rat, but in '92 I went into treatment for endometriosis. The medicine I was on put me into a temporary state of chemically induced menopause. What shocked me, and was the biggest learning experience, was the major shift in my cognitive functioning.

My ability to engage in academic debate flew out the window. I just wasn't interested in joining the kind of arguments that I'd delighted in just a few weeks earlier. My intuition blossomed like mad. I could look at the stuff on someone's desk, like the toys and bits and pieces that accumulate there, and know exactly what issues they were working on in their life. When I came off the medication, the logo-rat could make command appearances, but so could the intuitionist.

Working with polymer clay engages both parts. I make tools, and love to figure out "how to do it" with some odd shape or interconnected bits and bobs. And oh, I love to brainstorm with others!

*Northwest Polymer Clay Guild

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thinking does not equal Doing

One of the insights I had in working with a coach has to do with one of my big stumbling blocks. I like to think. A lot. That includes "figuring things out." I have a pretty good visual imagination, and can "see" my way through making something -- engineering, fabrication, the whole ball of wax.

But in creating with polymer clay, consciously bringing creative thoughts into manifestation, I have gotten pretty darn clear that the hands can't always achieve what the mind can create. Therein lies the utility of practice.

Now, I know lots of you are going to say "well, duh!" And yeah, when you think about it, it's pretty obvious. But again I say, what the brain knows, the body can stumble over. What I think should be easy can be terrifying to my emotions.

What I continue to learn on a daily basis is to practice. Just sit in the chair and write. Don't judge it, just write. Maybe just sit in the chair if that's all I can do that day. When I was writing my dissertation, I consistently found that if I could put my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard, after a while of slogging, I'd get into it. My interest in the task would usually take me the rest of the way.

It's boring? Too bad. Keep going. Maybe I'm not deep enough in to where it isn't boring.

It's confusing? Ok, so it's confusing, I'll get down what I DO understand and go from there.

It's too complicated? Break it down into little simple pieces.

There's too much? Who said you had to do it all at once? Take it step by step.

The thing about working with the clay is that I can see how I can make my weaknesses into design elements. And that's a transferable skill. So if I can't think of what to say to a client, I can focus on listening more deeply. And ya know, from a client's perspective, that can be a darn good trade.

Being creative

I grew up in an artist's house. My mom was always making things...for the PTA fair, the church bazaar, the Girl Scout Troup, and later for her art classes. So I was surrounded by stuff to make stuff, and I watched stuff being made. Naturally I had to get into the act. When I was 11, I made a shield and played at being a knight. In high school, I did lots of stagecraft for the many plays we put on. I think I must have painted about three miles of scenery flats! All through collage, it was the art classes that helped me to survive all the academic work.

So I had the good fortune early on, to understand that imagination + stuff + technique = manifestation. I call myself a poly-crafter because I've gone through so many types of media. Embroidery, sewing, wood working, wire bending, ceramics, graphics, and on and on.

There are some things in life that we simply can not NOT do, and for me, being creative is one of those things. I bring it to everything. When I was in the mortgage business, I used it to help restructure our department. As an alumni committee chair, I used it to create a long range planning process. As a therapist, I create workshops and exercises for my clients. And as an artist I'm currently using it to make multi-media jewelry.

Now dear readers, I'm using it in this blog. How do you use it?

Ancient Modern

I've been reading Ronna Sarvas Weltman's new book Ancient Modern: Polymer Clay and Wire Jewelry. It's quite different from most of the polymer clay books on my shelf. Her aesthetic seems to invoke stone and bone, pod and seed. It's a good approach for beginners, encouraging experimentation and setting aside the scourge of perfectionism. So many contemporary pc artists are producing exquisite, tight, detailed designs that it is refreshing to dip into Ronna's much looser and free style.

Ronna writes for Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine, and she brings her expertise in that arena to her book. The section on wire working is thorough without being labored, and she includes one of the most useful charts I've found in any wire working book. You'll find the coiling grid on page 21, that shows how much wire you will need for various coiling projects. One of her very bright young students mathematically developed the chart, and it's been tested several times by the student, Ronna, and the folks at Interweave Press.

I also appreciate her section on the mechanics of jewelry design. It may look terrific on the bench, but if it doesn't fit or hang properly, it'll never get worn.

The projects themselves won't be to everyone's taste (I happen to like them alot). But even readers with very different taste can be inspired by the shapes of her beads, the way she puts colors together, and the various ways she uses texture.

Within the projects, I would have liked more step-out photos, but overall, the design of this book is elegant and clear. The cover is fabulous and inviting, and what's inside delivers the goods.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


For me, creativity is a way of life. It’s expressed in how I decorate my home, write, create jewelry, cook, and dream. I take it into the world of business, into counseling, and into learning about myself and others.

Tapping into the creative mind means entering a world of symbol and metaphor. The logic of the creative mind isn’t linear. Think about dreams – where an image may be more than what it appears to be, it is also what it means. While, as Freud said "sometimes a cigar is just a cigar" we know it also may represent much more.

In these web pages, I’ll be exploring some of the many facets of creativity. I hope you enjoy them.