Monday, May 19, 2008

Stretching To The Next Generation

When I first developed symptoms of fibromyalgia, I had to learn the really hard lesson of taking "Baby Steps". Having been a bit of a Type A person, who always wanted to get to the end product as soon as possible, this was a huge lesson for me.

I still struggle with taking "Baby Steps", but I'm happy to say that I have embodied some of this lesson into my creative work. So, you see here two baby steps (prototypes) I have been taking with my BioBangle designs.

At the NPCG Synergy Conference, there was a lot of discussion about the creative process and finding your own "voice". A few folks have expressed interest in how I have been finding my own "voice". Here are some thoughts that have bubbled up lately on this topic...
  • It has been a huge relief to allow myself the time and space needed to let my ideas grow and manifest. I stress the word "allow". The most creative time for me is just before getting up in the morning... when the Alpha waves are high and the mind is still partly asleep. Perhaps it's a time when my unconscious mind meets my analytical mind... I don't know. I just know its really important to allow this time to happen, before I get out of bed.
  • It's also been a (surprising) release to allow myself to just focus on one form... in this case, bangles. I had been jumping from earrings to pendants to vessels to beads... which, at the time, was a good way to explore techniques. But it is hard to explore ones "voice" when jumping from one thing to another.
  • When all else fails, I fall back on the familiar... colors I'm familiar with or techniques I'm comfortable with. The act of creating within the familiar when I'm exploring (yes, I know this sounds counter intuitive) makes exploration less daunting.
  • When I feel stumped and stagnant, I resort to just touching clay... hand kneeding it, playing with it, anything. Just touch it! I find sitting in my studio mixing a bunch of familiar colors is a great way to inspire ideas. Or cranking out a bunch of Skinner Blends or simple canes. It doesn't matter - I just need to touch the clay.
  • When I can't even motivate myself to "touch the clay", I'll give myself permission to make a cup of tea and just surf the web. I might start with Polymer Clay Daily, or Polymer Clay Notes, or Kim Cavender's blog, and see where they take me. I don't limit myself to polymer clay sites. Those who have been following this blog for a while know that I have been looking at nudibranchs, squids, and other marine creatures. But I've also been visiting galleries and museums on the web. You could call it research, but I don't see it that way when I do it... I simply allow myself to browse and explore. If I end up at a site that showcases hummingbirds or unusual knitting projects, that's just fine.
So... those are a few thoughts I've been noticing lately. I'll share more as I find them.

To close, I offer my huge apologies to all who sent me emails or tried to call me over the last few months. If I didn't reply, or took forever to respond, please do not take it personally. This winter and spring I have been hiding and evolving (and struggling with a lot of pain). But the growing light and warmth has helped me stick my head back out into the world. Thanks to all for your grace and forgiveness.


beadworx said...

you call these prototypes? they're amazing - can't decide which shape I like the most. I definiely love all your color schemes you use - you have a great feel for that.

I'm so glad you're back, which I knew is a good sign according to your health. I missed you and your posts a lot but I guessed that you sure were fighting again.
I also enjoy the spring temperatures and can't wait for the summer heat - In case you don't know - some like it hot - I DO...we'll take a trip to Kreta which is known to be very hot in summer...only 7 weeks to go...yay!

ok, gotta go to bed now - I fought my fight with my new shop-system today. It's not yet finished but growing.

big hug and many kisses

Kim Cavender said...

Melanie, I really enjoyed reading more about your creative journey and I'm honored to have my blog included as one of your starting points for internet inspiration. I missed you last week but hope to see you again soon. Glad to know you're feeling better. The winters seem to get longer and longer as we get older and spring has been particularly welcome this year. I love your newest bangle designs! Can't wait to see what you do next!

Raven's Clay said...

Bettina and Kim! Two terrific, creative, and inspiring women! Thanks so much for visiting and your kind words.

Bettina, I hope you and your family have a wonderful time at Kreta (what exactly is a "Kreta"? Lol). Now, when are you guys coming to the States?

Kim, your blog is always an inspiration, my dear. Whether you feature your own work, someone else's, or offer a seed of wisdom, I always feel enlightened and recharged when I visit your blog. And yes, I soooooo missed you all last week. I am VERY sad I couldn't join you. It was a money thing, not lack of desire. Pft. Maybe next year - I keep my fingers crossed!

Seth Savarick said...

Glad to see your back! It is obvious that you have found you voice. Your work just keeps getting better and better! You have also shown us how focus can drive our creativity through to the other side of better work! Brava!!!

Raven's Clay said...

Seth! Hello my wise friend and teacher! Thank you so much for your gracious words.

I have been blessed with the opportunity and time to really sink my teeth into my work. I don't know if I could have found the courage or energy to dive in if I had a 9 to 5 job.

Now, when are we going to see some photos of YOUR new work, Mr. SL Savarick. ;P lol

beadworx said...

lol Melanie - a "Kreta" is a greek island....
I so wish to come back to the states soon. I hope i can talk my family into a new england trip next year in summer...

Anonymous said...

Melanie your work is inspirational and I am so pleased to click on your blog and see something new, refreshing and thought provoking. I know what you mean about "allowing" and I am very much still at the stage of finding my inner voice as a polymer clay artist. I still jump from pendants, necklaces, bracelets and so on but I feel that it's only by jumping that i will truly land on the right "planet". You have found yours and it's beautiful.
It's great to see you back.

Raven's Clay said...

Hi Kylee! You are very kind. Keep up the journey, my dear. And remember, it's not about the end product, it's about the process. ;)

Kerstin said...

I just have to tell you that I really love your bracelets. The shape, the colors and all together looks so perfect! Thank you for being such an inspiration!


Terri of Heron Moon Designworks said...

Thanks so much for this post, Melanie. Lately forgiving and allowing myself have been daily exercises for me. This passing winter, with the economic stress of the times, plus having to sell our house (and get it ready, first) have pushed my fibromyalgia pain and the accompanying self-judgement and the frustration into the forefront. It has daily threatened to obliterate the rest of my view. It is so very helpful to read the ways another artist (and such an incredibly talented and accomplished one as you) copes, particularly in feeding, encouraging, and nurturing the delicate and cherished creative spark or muse or whatever we like to call her. Please know that just thinking aloud can sometimes be such a gift to another soul. You are a gem of a human being!