artist self-check

I made this bracelet exactly three years ago. It remains one of my favorite pieces, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I’ve avoided digging up the picture to look at it, but as it happens a wise and lovely friend also stumbled upon it recently, and emailed me about it. I’ve been having one of my dullard phases with design lately, mostly where my vast collection of vintage glass is concerned, and seeing the picture clarified some of my struggles for me. In responding to my friend’s email, I articulated some of the things that are currently bothering me about my process. This is what I replied:

“it’s funny that you should stumble on that bracelet. it’s been on my mind a lot lately. i’m realizing that my designs seem to have lost that dirty, scrappy look that i exploited so well early on. i’ve gotten much more structured, much more streamlined, and i feel like i’ve lost the astounding sense of discovery that i used to feel when i finished something – particularly that whole series of rusty and unbalanced pieces [this refers to a series I called Urban Seaweed]. my process has changed so much, and i miss it. i’d just start with something and wire it up and then put something next to it and then fiddle with some other things and maybe they’d come together and then suddenly there would be something so right that i knew how to finish it. i don’t work that way anymore and i miss it. i’ve been uncertain how to get it back. i think partly it has to do with my having too many supplies – those pieces happened when i had much less to work with and i was excited about all of it. my new year’s resolution not to buy any more glass supplies for a while has something to do with that. i’ve realized lately that i shop for supplies when i’m bored and need a perk. it always works out well to have them, but it means that i don’t think creatively about what i have in the same way. i’m experiencing my supplies as tools instead of something that i communicate with, and i need that to stop. i’d often finish something but not be certain what it meant until i was photographing it. now, i often start with a name or a color scheme and build from there, and while it seems logical, it’s actually ass-backward to the more satisfying and authentic way that i used to work.”

My friend had some smart things to say about this, and the upshot is that I’m planning to spend part of this weekend building myself a much smaller pool of glass supplies from the staggering pile of boxes in my work corner. I’ll select things that I find exciting, trying not to think at all about what I’ll do with them, and then use those to create with for one month. And only those. No cheating, and certainly no buying anything new. We’ll see how it goes. There are certain to be some colossal duds, but I’m going to try to post everything here, whether I hate it or not.

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2 thoughts on “artist self-check

  1. Katie

    I loved this post. I have had very similar feelings before about having too many supplies – it can really short circuit your creativity. I’ve had to stop myself from buying the ‘right’ things before – things that obviously go together – just to force creativity.

    And I’ve been in a creative slump for a long time – I think I might do this little exercise, too!

  2. Kathy

    I love your jewelry. It really jumps off the screen! Don’t you think that we over think sometimes? I know I do. Although, that being said, I still lOVE your color play. Try playing in the sandbox with just your available toys. Cheers – Kathy


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