American Craft Show – Baltimore

One of the things that I set as a goal for myself recently was to rekindle my ‘serious’ art – of course if you know me, you know I’m anything but serious!  But, I have gotten a bit sidetracked in the past few years.  Most of the things I create have been for projects, articles, online classes, product samples… all fun, of course, but not the kind of work that really pushes me as an artist to experiment and stretch my skills.

So, I’m making more studio time and making more pieces that I want to make.  And of course exploring new venues to showcase them.

I’m very excited to be part of the prestigious American Craft show in Baltimore in Feb.  It’s one of the premier juried fine craft shows in the country, and just the kind of place I’d like my ‘serious’ art to be.

I’m trying to cram in as much studio time as I can before next month.  I’ve got a few things done that I’m pleased with so far, and hey! weeks before the show – that’ll be plenty of time, right?
inprogress

If you’ll able to come enjoy this show, please do!  It’s a tremendous event with so many beautiful things.  And say hi to me! I’m in booth#827.

web-accshow

Click here for more info about the Baltimore show!

 

 

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In praise of polymer clay!

polymers

In praise of polymer clay:
It’s been 12 years so far that I’ve been totally enamored of polymer clay. And i was moved today, for no particular reason, to just say how wonderful it is to live in a time and place with access to a medium that can do so much to assist creativity. I love all the brands, and am excited in the coming years to learn and experiment more with all the clays – each has such interesting things to offer. Thanks to Premo, Fimo, Kato, Cernit, Pardo and all the rest for adding such a wonderful medium to our lives!

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Stay Fresh, or Get Stale

w-thumbDrag
Lately, Ive become aware of how far my artistic output has strayed from where I first started.  I was all gallery work, once upon a time, then this whole other world of writing, teaching and products evolved.  And just recently I realized that my own creative exploration had dwindled to practically nothing … almost all of my creating was directed towards workshops, product support and fan interaction. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course!
I am telling you this because I see it as an pattern that many of us artists, and especially many in the polymer genre, find themselves repeating.  We start off creating as a hobby or something we do in our spare time, then our art becomes noticed and people want to know how you did that, and can you show them how, and can they do it too!  It’s all very exciting and flattering.  Next, you’re zipping around on the workshop circuit, offering products of one kind or another for sale, trying to keep up with social media, working long hours …. and spiderwebs are taking over in your studio.
I’m not complaining!  Honest! Many creative people would love to be where I am – I’m totally aware of that.  And I don’t have any intentions of quitting this wild and wonderful ride…but here’s the thing that I feel is worth us thinking about  — if you don’t stay fresh, you get stale.
Trying to earn a living from your passion changes your passion.
Ok, so, now what?
What I am learning, and want to share with other career creators, is that it is absolutely necessary to SCHEDULE some regular time to create solely for the joy of the experience and without concern over how that creation will be marketed/monetized/commercialized.
Since I had this little realization, I now make time to be in the studio, just for my own creative needs, just to stay fresh!  I try always to take pics as pieces are progressing, and AFTER I am done creating, then I put on my business-girl pants and decide if i want to market/monetize/commercialize what I’ve created.  Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.  But that process  is separate from, and comes AFTER the act of pure creativity.
Because of this small change, I have a renewed sense of excitement as an artist.  And I notice if I do post the results of these creative journeys, the response is more satisfying as well. Win-win for the artist in me as well as the marketer.

I’m just sharing this little epiphany for what it’s worth to my fellow career artists, and those headed down that path.

Keep your soul, even while you sell out!  ;-D

Ok, so now that I’ve testified, brethren and sistern, here’s one of my recent “just for me” creations.
w-DONE-Elucidate      w-bugDone

And after it was done, I shared the steps on my facebook pages here and here, and  on my pinterest boards here and here, and it lives on my website here.

Both halves of me were satisfied – my inner artist and my outer businessperson.

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The Creative Chaos-Control Continuum

I think about the creative process alot because I teach others how to be more creative in their artwork.  So, I figure I should probably try to understand the process.  It’s a slippery thing to pin down, creativity.  Lots of folks have talked about it, written about it, mused about it.  So today I’m only going to toss one idea out there about creativity.  I like to call it the Chaos-Control Continuum.

I think creative activity occurs along a continum from control to chaos.  People create all along that line from very those whose art is strict and organized to those whose art is wild and erratic.  As an artist, the “control” side is safe – but can be boring, since no risks are taken.

controlSpoons

The “chaos” side is exciting, but can plunge into madness.

chaosSpoons

I suggest that we try to dance along the line separating the control from the chaos – that’s where all the good ideas are.  Enough control to be productive and actually finish a piece, but enough chaos to make that piece have life and soul.

creativeSpoons

How do we do that? Take risks with your art – what would happen if…? (what would happen if I used that color? or added that piece? or chopped it up and rearranged it? or made it bigger?).  Look at things from another point of view (make that part cascade down instead of up; get really close, like microscopic close;  push the outside part into the inside).  Perhaps make something just because you want to and don’t think about what it’s supposed to be, just go with the flow.

Creativity is a life force.  Life is all about control and chaos.  You need both to have an interesting time on this planet.  In your artistic life, dance along the line where both control and chaos live and see how interesting it can be!

raspbrySpoon

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Your space

There’s always a lot of interest in studios.  How do artists organize their spaces? store their supplies? make sure their materials are accessible?  and most importantly – how to keep it from becoming a total clutter.

Organizing can get out of control until you’re afraid to touch anything for fear of messing up the system. Or (more usually), organizing can just never quite happen and you’re never able to find what you want.

But, hey… don’t stress it!  Here’s my motto:

whatever

Because, really, as long as  you have a place to play, whatever else happens in there is fine.

But, here’s a few thoughts about organizing your space, especially for those of you who use polymer clay like I do.

I have glass casserole dishes all around me with the clays that I’m using in them – very loosely sorted by color families – blues and greens all in a jumble; purples and pinks together; reds, oranges and yellows all snuggly – you get the idea.  i just toss a piece of bubble wrap over the mess when I’m done for the day to keep the dust off. (Yeah, I don’t dust). Any scraps get clumped in with whatever color is predominant in the mix.

cf-at-work

Packages of unopened clay are stored in some cheap plastic shelves that I got at Kmart or Wallmart… some kind of Mart…

claybins

(pssst, just a hint – don’t go crazy buying tons of clay and storing it!  because of the changes in clay formulas these days, unopened clays get harder faster – so buy less and use it, and then buy more!)

When it comes to all those tools you use for claying – mugs or small glass jars hold them near your fingertips, on your work surface.  And if you use a lot of other materials in your clay (beads, stones, fibers), like I do, try those drawer units that are designed to hold hardware (nails and screws and suchlike) – they’re at your neighborhood “mart” store too, and they’re really cheap. Just use a Sharpie pen to label the drawers (and if you change your mind, nail polish remover will take the old marker label off, lickitysplit!…ready for the new!).

bins

But really, the important thing is to just have a space to make art in that you don’t have to clean up after yourself, (unless you want to).  Taking things out and putting them back will take up all your creative time and energy.  To organization I say… whatever.

Just make.  Get things more straightened/contained as you go along, one little bit at a time – don’t let your lack of organization slow you down.

This is a part of Calder’s studio (famous sculptor and kinetic artist). If he managed to get stuff done, so can we!

calders

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Mushy Stuff

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, which means we start thinking about loved ones a bit more than usual.  I’m not going to rave about flowers and chocolate in this blog (although I enjoy both and think that we should all have some of each on a regular basis), I think instead we should chat about lovey-mushy stuff for a moment.

We all know life is better when you have people to love and people that love you.  How about people to like? people who like you? appreciate you? people that make your life richer?  Well, duh… those are all awesome things.  So what about in your artistic life.  Who do you like or appreciate in your artistic life?  Which folks have increased your joy of creativity, or have shared new ways of doing things, or have opened up inspirational windows in your artheart?

So I was just thinking, since there are people out there who have added to your artistic life, why not take this Valentine’s Day week to thank them. Just let them know they’ve made your life a little nicer.  I’m going to.  I thought I’d use facebook, and just drop this little graphic into their timeline with a quick little note of appreciation.  Feel free to copy it and do the same to those you appreciate!  Let’s add a bit of the mushy stuff around the world this week!

thanx

(Oh, and by the way, I already know that so many of you appreciate me, and often say so on my pages, for which I am very grateful! This blog is not a sneaky way to get you all to scatter ‘thanx’ boxes on my page, but just a way for us all to share the love!)

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2015 – A Year of Creativity – it’s all about YOU

OH MY! IS IT REALLY ANOTHER NEW YEAR?!!!

cf eyebrows

The first days of the new year are always a time of taking stock of the past and looking forward to what the future holds.

Here’s what I’m thinking about 2015.  I think this year is going to see an explosion of creativity.  Everywhere.  We are all linked together now, we see what people are doing all over the world, all day, every day.  That affects all of us.  So that buzz of creativity you feel sometimes when you’re skipping down the cyber rabbit hole is going to get buzzier and buzzier.  Tap into it.

It’s going to be a year of mixing it up.  Collaborations.  Multi – media interactions.  Online sharing.  Retreats and workshops and demos.  Embrace it.  Join in.

It’s going to be a year of changes.  Things that have always been around are going to fade to be replaced by new things.  Old ways of shopping and showing and networking and learning are evolving.  Evolve with them.  Don’t fight it, adapt with it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.  What if it flops?  No big deal, try another thing.

hairdown   staySilly

Let your hair down.  Have fun with friends.  Don’t be afraid to be silly.  Don’t take yourself too seriously.

And create.  We’re only a few days in to 2015, and it is already exploding with creativity. Grab your clay (or paint, or wire or beads or fabric or instrument or spoon or crayons) and go for it.

clayGrab

But with all the excitement and opportunity, remember that we are limited in how much we can do.  It’s ok to take a break.  In fact, it’s necessary.  I tend to go 100 miles an hour with my hair on fire most of the time. But that’s a good way to burn out.  So I’m trying to slow down.  Spend more time with the people that are important to me.  Give myself permission to take a breath, say no sometimes, be a little bit lazy once in a while.  You have permission too.  And be kind to others who need a breather too.  It’s a fast, fast, fast, fast world… but it doesn’t have to run us over.

And finally – make.  Just make.  Doesn’t matter what or why.  Just create and enjoy the process.  Make things for the joy of making.  Make them to get better at making.  Make them to share with others.  Make. Make Make.  I want to spend more time in my studio this year.  Resolve to spend more time in your creative place this year.  I think that will be good for all of us.

studio

Happy new year everyone.  Happy Year of Creativity to you.

Here are just a few of the many things that may inspire you in this new year of creative expansion:

PolymerClayDaily – a great way to start your day with global clay inspirations!  This is one of the best ways to catch the cyber buzz!

ChristisCreativeNeighborhood – (well, you know I had to plug something I’m starting this year that I think will be loads of creative fun!) monthly subscription projects and inspiration. Signups ongoing.  Early Bird Special thru Jan.

PolymerAdventure online retreat – an online retreat with new classes from loads of polymer teachers that lasts all year.  Quite an adventure, indeed! (I’m teaching in this retreat too, and I can’t wait to share my new “Walking Pods” project).  Signups ongoing.

The Polymer Arts – magazine (paper or online subscription) and blog – so much good stuff here! A wealth of ideas and sharing.

RAM – Racine Art Museum – this ground-breaking museum has been in the forefront of championing the polymer arts for years.  Become a member, support them, get their newsletter, make a donation, visit!

2015 Polymer Clay Challenge – hosted by KatersAcres, this facebook-based group is good for easy sharing of skills and experimenting.  A number of other polymer creativity groups are listed there as well.

International Polymer Clay Association – outreach, information, news and global networking for the polymer community

Daily Art Muse – get an eyeful of art of all kinds with this wonderful blog

…and you know the list is endless, but this should give you lots to play with to jumpstart your year – YOUR year of creativity!

Posted in Creative Neighborhood, inspiration, Polymer Clay Adventure online retreat | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment