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.