Sunday, September 24, 2017

dealing with blocks; great stepping stones, commitment

The commitment to create, means sometimes you won't be successful. And you must get through this, "not going to happen", - PHASE. I learned a great many lessons during my 'block' period. I learned how to keep on keeping on! 

Failure sucks. Anyone who tells you it doesn't is LYING. BUT, after failing, if you keep trying, and you reach your set summit, man, the joy is unbelievable! I do mean crying tears of joy! Because the struggle makes the achievement all that more great. No one will know this level of deep gratification if they do not suck at some point. Think about it, if you just zip out the product, over and over, and its not a challenge in some ways, you are not growing. And not growing means boring. At least to my creative spirit it does.  Yet, I struggled with a project promised, so much, that I literally begged to be let go of it. My client was having none of that!  I am thankful that their belief in me was stronger than MY belief in me!

And now, as I share my struggle without any shame, (why be shamed? we all start out sucking from the womb to the nipple- and we grow past it)... I see, oh so clearly, that FEAR OF NOT BEING PERFECT, just set up road block after road block. I clearly understand that my own over reaching was part of the fear.

I have a great imagination. This is a blessing and a curse. I often dream of designs that I am not at the skill level to produce. This sets up a big learning curve. And after each fall from the mountain, the mind becomes weary, the bruises from admitting that what you THOUGHT you could pull off, and the results that no, you can't - just yet- will heal.  The ego gets knocked down. 

Lesson #1  Do not make a design that is at a level four times your skill, unless you have no deadline, even then, if you love yourself, be realistic as to what you can do.

Its much better to keep it simple, especially in the beginning of your accepting commissions. 

My original design took about four months to come up with. I wanted the motif to be "different" and yet very personal for the couple involved.  I researched Jewish symbols and old world motifs. Went to several art libraries in search of ideas. Sketched out ideas. Meditated about it. Was the research suppose to last this long? I am not sure, but it was my process.

When you are a closet perfectionist, you'll do just about everything to prevent the actual commitment to an idea from happening, because - what if its not the greatest design in the world? You see what I mean and where I am going.... its really about the dread of starting. Because starting can mean failing when you are a closet perfectionist. So there was always 'more research' to be done. I always felt, not quite ready to commit...until the client called.

Lesson #2  You have to START on something at some point, and STOP gathering possible inspiration for the greatest design ever. Cut it down to three possible options, and present them to the client, ready for feedback and their input. 

I enlisted the help of a fellow jeweler, Gina, from my class taking years, who was at a professional level and who was willing to help me take my design to the completion level. It was very generous of her to help me! I thought I (we) would whip out these rings in two evenings. That is, of course, after all the prep work had been done. The cutting of the Sterling Silver shanks, all the measurements, rose gold wire placements, spacing of the stamp motif,etc. For anyone not good in math, this is hell, (guess there was a point in taking math classes in school)...This part is so important, that unless you get it right- (and there is no room for error- or the rings won't fit!) you will be doing it over.

 But alas, this was my first set of 'till death do us part' rings, and you will learn and learn and learn, that just because all the rings you made for yourself fit, its not so with other people...unless you are really careful. With myself, there was always the option of putting the ring on another finger. No one wants to wear their wedding ring on the pinky finger, trust me!  Of course I knew that......

Lesson#3 There is no such thing as too much prep time. Ok, maybe you do have to limit it, but.....all the best laid plans, can be stepping stones...because you can't know what you don't know, before you finally learn it.  Make peace with the do-over!

Lesson#4 When you realize that your 'most perfect design in the world' has flaws that you couldn't of possibly understood on paper, admit it.  The couple had ok'd the motif... A simple idea of combining the first letter of their surnames with the symbol of a dot in the middle (for oneness), then alternating it back and forth, (client's idea: each are on top at some point!). I thought I was in the clear of a fast finish. However, then in an effort to make the rings 'more sophisticated', I had the grand idea of using a border of square rose gold wire on the top and bottom. Well, this did look fantastic! However, it also made forming the rings into perfect circles very very hard, as the metal was now extremely thick. Also, I'd not taken into consideration that all that thickness would mean that they needed to be LONGER. So, of course - too small!  We won't even go into the trickiness of soldering rose gold wire on Sterling Silver and not having it run where you don't want it to!  BIG frustration. Found myself falling OUT OF LOVE with my design. What to do? But set it aside for a while.  A long while. Embarrassingly long while.  I won't say how long, but let's just say, I was hoping they'd fire me. 

Lesson#5 Stamping is not as easy as you think. Its just as hard as sawing a straight line. Well, even harder, as once that gold hammer has slammed down, you either have the right impression, or you do not. And if you do not, then you start from scratch. No one wants to start over at this point. And no, they weren't going to fire I took a long sabbatical from the commission, because I had a mini- nervous breakdown over other pressing issues in my life, and simply couldn't continue on in that frame of mind. Failure was happening on all fronts. We agreed that I could set aside the 'rings' and work on something- anything else! Client would be happy with any of my designs, I was told. Well, they certainly had faith in me! Mine had plummeted to ground sub-zero at that point.

Lesson#6 When you step away from a project that is not going well, you can breath new life into it! Suddenly as I was relieved from the 'pressure' I'd put on myself to create the 'greatest design in the world', I felt free. And when I feel free, the ideas flow, like magic. One day in meditation the concept to make a 'wedding necklace' (for the female of the couple) came. I could take the "pinky ring wedding band" and work it into a necklace. In India, the bride wears a "MANGALSUTRA", it is considered a symbol of love and marriage. I'd create that! And I did. Client was VERY happy!! I was very happy! My mojo was back!

Here is a video of the works in progress: (it actually changed a bit from this, but not much) 

The wedding necklace

Here's the final product: 

Lesson #7 It's not over until the fat lady sings!!!!!  I was secretly hoping that the wedding rings would just be forgotten. Well, not really, the fact that I'd not completed the 'greatest design in the world' still bugged me. I am not one to give up on the battle field. I solder on! And actually, I can solder fairly well. Having restored my faith in myself, personal issues over, I picked up the project again. Ready to FINISH the job! I had learned so much at this point, I was even more determined to deliver. So I made a mock up pair of rings in copper, to MAKE sure they fit! Good idea, Parker! And this might just be my program from here on out, until I get really good at math. (never!)...and then there came another lesson.....

Lesson#8 Double stamping spreads the metal too much. In my rush to finish line, I got sloppy on details. Picking up that gold hammer and stamping the perfect shank was scary. And in my 'sureness' I realized that the extra punch, was just that. I wasn't happy...and then when I went to form them...they were too thin, and just cracked. But this time, I saw it as 'another chance' to get it right, as I envisioned. So out came thicker gage metal. I would much rather learn this in the process than have a call from the client that the wedding band broke! No one wants that symbolic message!!!!! Lifetime rings, that's what we want to create at Divine Designs!  So, I went with thicker Sterling Silver, and when it came to the stamping of the motif, only ONE firm pound!

Lesson#9 Doing a job that you are proud of, which has your name on it, that makes the client happy is the end goal. No matter how many tries it takes. It took me four. Practice makes not perfect, but it makes you better at your craft!

Lesson#10.  Its all hard, do it anyway! Do not give up! The joy in a job well done, hard earned, is deep, and lasting! Make your clients HAPPY, and you will also be happy. Keep your creative commitments. Keep growing as an artist!

Happy Soldering!




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

why i create

because something inside me screams....create or die. 

and you are going to die anyhow- (one day) so just create!

creation....creating...created...who is creating? its a verb- it means movement...just like the breath. to create means to be alive.  we are creating every single moment we inhale and exhale. some of us have tapped into that creative vibration that is ever present, and make our living out of 'creating'........ something from nothing. a desk job just won't do.

it starts with an idea.

sometimes it ends there.

other days the idea just floats around in the mind. stewing. 

but most of all what happens is- SPACE is ALLOWED for divine to pour in some 'maybe' magic. 

I work as an art model, astrologer, jewelry designer, soap maker, photographer, filmmaker, actress and writer. Yes, I have been paid for all the above. 

The question "why I create" really should be- "Why doesn't everyone feel compelled to tap into the never ending vortex of divine inspiration?  

Sometimes people will tell me- "Oh, I am not creative"..........I know this is a LIE. EVERYONE is creative! 

That is like saying- "I NEVER DREAM".

Creating is taking imagination to the manifested state. 

They just have too much fear about making it the way of life. 

Because fear is the creative killer- we keep that at bay.....

Today- I read a piece on Facebook about "Why we mourn David Bowie's death"........ well, that got me inspired to start a new blog. BOWIE was the totally 'tapped into divine creative vortex' human- his entire life shows that! Thank YOU Mr.Bowie for being the amazing creative vortex channel you were/are! You inspire ME. I've been a BOWIE FREAK since age 12. Now, way past middle age- I am STILL a Bowie Freak.

I'd been thinking about a new blog to link to my three Etsy shops anyhow... so here it is. I'll write about the creative process and what goes smoothly-sometimes- and sometimes is like climbing a snow covered mountain barefoot.

 The creative process for me is like the light switch to electric energy........its always there- sometimes I just forget to TURN ON the switch. The switch is called:  COURAGE TO ACT on your crazy ideas. Sometimes there seems to be (or is) a short in the wiring...and damn, sometimes the electric energy is just blocked. 

Those days/times- I try not to FORCE myself to create. I try to ease into it by looking at books-  colors, or shapes, and or watching a movie- or even getting into the car and going to the museum. Sometimes the muse just won't be summoned......... she's on vacate- and so I know that I am too.

I've never been able to create under pressure. I've had conversations about 'creating on demand' with professors that I pose for.  Its across the board- some say- 'you have to' others say- 'no way can it be forced' one must RELAX...... we all access that vibration in our own way- its like making love, faking it isn't fun or joyful. 

I used to run 80 miles a month. So clearly I have extra energy. Time and curiosity helped me to channel the extra energy in mental ways. Energy is really very much an INSIDE job. Some of us are born with lots of energy- I am one of those people. 

But I have found that when the energy mode is low (usually means I've been listing to TOO much 'news') I can jump start it. I do that by hanging out at: 

Ted Talks

Creating helps me feel 'connected' to the higher self. When I focus deeply there is a 'zone' that I reach which is beyond time. Has no limits. Feels very freeing. Perhaps the drive to create is the same urge to unite. To unit with the unseen that fuels all seen. That sense of oneness.....with the very self- and the source of all. Creating for me is a need to reach- the hOMe place. Sometimes this is reached by 'not doing' 'but allowing'. 
In honor of BOWIE...........

ashes to ashes

you will be forever missed.......

photo: elusive blue earrings