Monday, May 31, 2010

Using the dark side

Just saw on twitter from "iamdjwilliams" (Not someone I was retweeted)

"If it breaks your heart....write a song about it"

Made me pause. I have written some songs (lyrics, that is. I don't write music)...but not out of my pain. I have scrawled some slightly emo poetry out of my pain, but it shall not see the light of public day. I would like to at least pretend to have some dignity. But other than a few tear-blurred lines of ink on this or that...I realize I don't tend to pour my angst into creativity. I'm at my most productive when I'm happy. And being productive makes me happy..which makes me more productive...which makes me... When I really get going it has a turbo-charged effect that leaves me feeling like I stuck my finger in a socket. It's thrilling, and just a little scary. If you're a fan of mine on facebook, or follow my shop at all, this will explain why you'll see mass postings of work. I go in artistic sprints of insane proportion!

But pain... emotional pain absolutely paralyzes me. I shut down. I stare at walls. I've gone through phases over the last year where I was too emotionally turbulent to make anything but a mess. In more ways than one. My solution was, not unwisely, to try and learn to stay away from things that "stole my mojo". People who hurt me or confused me in painful ways were people I needed to avoid. And I'm not saying that's wrong. But that little quote makes me wonder if I need to work harder to use the darker emotions in my work. After all, pain is part of life. It's guaranteed. So it would be foolish of me to allow emotional pain, anxiety, or confusion to keep me from creating. If that means I must grow stronger...then I must grow stronger. But perhaps my work will grow stronger as well.

The Strangers the Better

Y'know...I've been thinking that many of the really exciting things in my life have come from talking to strangers. Some of my favorite people were strangers before they were friends. Um..well...actually, barring family, all of my favorite people were strangers first. Now there's a significant statistic right there!! ;-D

But neat and wonderful things happen to me because I am inordinately friendly... indiscriminate, you might say. Gregarious, obstreperous, and definitively NOT shy. (well, actually I am shy, but anxiety makes me talk more, so who can tell?) When it comes to trying to get inspiration, it helps to be chatty. Other humans are fascinating...and other humans are your audience and your market if you are creating art for any other reason than to satisfy yourself. I love my work...but I can't wear all of it. I've only got two arms, after all, and short ones at that! So it's good to talk to other people both for the sheer joy of knowing them, and for their input on what they find exciting artistically.

On a more practical level, however, there's marketing. Call me silly...but I like money. I like being able to buy new tools and supplies. I like having a little profit in my pocket for that extra latte. And I really like the affirmation that happy customers provide! Now that is a mojo boost right there! Being sociable is a must for marketing. Wear your work. Talk to people. And it doesn't even have to be anything approaching aggressive sales. (I don't know about you, but personally I can't do persuasive sale tactics.)

Case in point. I'm out of town right now visiting my in-laws. My oldest son and I were on our way back to their house and saw a really interesting shop to check out. Turned out to be a funky gallery of recycled home furnishing and cool vintage finds. Plus some of the best smelling handmade soap I've ever come across. I discovered a charismatic metal man who demanded to be mine. He wants to stand on my craft fair tables with cuffs stacked on his arms. REALLY, he does!! So I gently carried him towards the counter. A salesgirl approached and asked me if I was finding everything okay... So I talked to her. It's what I do. I told her how excited I was about the metal man because "I make these cuffs, y'see" (holds out arm) "He'll make a great display!"

She got excited too, and oohed and ahhed over my cuffs. Then she introduced me to the manager who, by the by, does a lot of shopping for her store on "this place called etsy". I chatted to the manager, she was thrilled to meet me, and immediately placed an order for fifteen cuffs. (mojo-meter goes DING DING DING!!) And if I had the sense not to leave home without my inventory, I would have already filled said order. (kicks self in butt, which is a challenging gymnastic feat) I shall ship it, however, when I arrive home.

Moral of the story: Wear your work. Chat with strangers. Don't be shy of saying "Oh well see...I make this stuff...." and carry your cards and maybe even some stock! You never know what amazingly coincidental "why does the good stuff always happen to YOU" kinda things might happen if you just talk to strangers.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Asked and Answered

I use a lot...and I mean a LOT of ceramics in my jewelry making, both on my leather cuffs and in my beadwork. So the lovely folks at the Beads of Clay blog featured me today! Wanna know more about me? You can read the interview here.

A very special thank you to Mary Ann Carroll for interviewing me and putting the post together! You can see her wonderful beads here!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Steppin' Out With My Mojo

I'm still daydreaming about the future of my new studio... but you know, the proper care and feeding of mojo also involves taking it out of the studio, away from the workspace, and getting it some fresh air. Mojo needs room to breathe, eh?

This time of year, there's something going on just about every weekend that will delight the senses, even if it drains your wallet. ;) Back at the beginning of this month, I was delighted to attend Artisphere, the annual downtown Arts Festival. I actually went twice in one day. In the morning with my mom, and in the evening with my husband and four sons. Needless to say, I did more visual feasting on art in the morning....but in the evening I got my hands dirty. ;)

I wandered starry-eyed and sunburned from booth to booth, drinking in the incredible photography, painting, pottery, metalsmithing, lampworking, woodwork, and more. One display of the most amazing polymer clay work I had ever seen actually made me freeze in place and say "WOW". The artist was quite amused. I had many moments of "Wish I were rich-itis" for the paintings I coveted. And I fell head over heels in love with a sterling cuff that was festooned with bamboo pieces and a single dark pearl. It was sculptural and bold and stunning and I still wish I had bought it. Someday... Ah yes. Someday.

When we came back with the kids, I enjoyed revisiting the booths and showing things to my family, especially my oldest son. He was intrigued by one metalsmith in particular who was doing fantastic things with geometric layers of metal and cold connections. Then we wandered it the more kid-friendly part of the festival. As we meandered, we passed two men working their mojo on the ground...

Just the colors of the chalk make me feel all giddy and happy. Cool, huh? Then we went over the pavillion with activities. My boys sat down to make collages....and did I! The sweet young volunteers who were working the kids' art table were a little startled as I sat down and started gleefully cutting up magazine photos and slinging glue about....for myself. But it was FUN! I haven't done paper art for a long time and I felt so refreshed just playing. Well worth trying again, sayin?

Now true, not every weekend nor every town has an Artisphere. But getting out of the studio, and out of the house, and just looking around can be a great way to rest and recharge. This weekend is a little road-trip to visit family. I probably won't even take any art supplies. (EEK!) But I'll be keeping my eyes wide open for sights that delight....even if it's just the grey beauty of falling rain along the interstate. Go on, Get out!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Birth of a Studio Part 1

An important part of keepin' the mojo flowin' is your workspace, sayin? I'm not a New Age kinda gal...but do know that if your workspace does not make sense, your Shui will get all Fenged up, and no one wants that. Your Chi could get stuck somewhere...OUCH!

At the moment, I am in-between workspaces to call my own. I was living in El Paso, Texas. And you can see my workspace (and me!) in this wonderful feature. So as you see... I was tucked into one side of a large family room.

Right now I am temporarily ensconced in a section of my mom's work area. She sews awesome aprons, purses, and the occasional quilt, and most graciously allowed me to use part of her space while we were here for a long visit. Insert moment of silence while we are profoundly grateful and admiring of Toca's awesomely accomodating mom here I am NOT showing you that space. But what I have done to it is truly frightening. Insert ANOTHER moment of silence while we are profoundly grateful and admiring of Toca's awesomely accomodating mom here

Today I got word of the house I will be moving into in a few short weeks... and I get *drum roll!!* a Room. Of. My. Own. A creative haven, if you will. A Studio. The room is 7.5 ft by 12 and has a closet, a full bath (Ha!) and a tiny window to the front yard. It's also just a few short steps away from the garage, which is awesome since I plan to start working more with power tools in the months to come.

Now. My worktable is black. I want another, but right now I just have the one. My shelving units are white cubbies of 4x2 blocks that can stand upright or horizontal. I have two of them. So let's start with room color. I'm thinking a slate grey with an accent wall of brick red. And then LOTS of etsy artwork for the walls, plus a chalkboard and maybe a collage of my own making. What do you think? What would you recommend for my new space?

Strange Foods Fit to Feed On

One way I like to feed my mojo is by savoring information about creative processes that I don't do. It only makes sense that I would spend time on jewelry magazines (love Belle Armoire) as I am a jewelry artist. But why would I feast my eyes on, something like "How to fire raku"? I don't do pottery. (yet) I don't have a kiln. And if I ever do get into making my own raku, it's a long time in the future.

But click the link, yo. Let your eyes drink in those fabulous photos. Be inspired by the glorious colors and shapes, and by the fascinating details of how others have worked through the details in their craft. Looking outside the box of your own area of expertise is a great way to be refreshed and reinvented in your approach. Not to mention, it's fun to find new places to maybe with the wonderful Marianne Kasparian of Maku Studio.

Got My Mojo Working

Mojo. Mojo, mojo, MOJO. It's just fun to say. I was going to start with that classic boring essay beginning of defining mojo.... Looked it up here just to make it more fun. But I didn't realize that mojo was so often considered a sex appeal, flirting, turbo-charged hotness kinda concept.

Honestly, to me, mojo is a little more broad-spectrum than just sex.

Mojo is my word for when you've got it goin' on in any facet of your life. I might say I got my cleaning mojo out for the day, or that I need to beg, borrow, or steal some To-Do List Mojo. But more often than not, if I'm talking about mojo, I'm referring to ART MOJO. (would that not be a fun name for a superhero?! Oh NO, my colors are clashing and I lack a focal element!! ART MOJO to the rescue!!!!)

When it's all flowing right...and I'm turning out item after item that pleases me...that's good mojo. When I can't make a decent bit of work no matter how much coffee I drink, or what music I play, somebody STOLE my mojo! And when I create something so beautiful, so out-of-the-box awesome that I sit and stare and go "WHOA. I made that?!" that's uber-mojo, yo. Mm-hmm.

All of that as introduction.... I wanted to start blogging again...but to simply blog day after day about my leatherwork... well, I think that would get boring pretty quickly. But to write under the auspices of "Whatever maximizes my mojo!" now that sounds like fun! So here you will find posts about music, color, life, inspiration, struggles, successes, humor...and yes, even a few stray comments about my actual artwork and processes in the making thereof. I also plan to review the glorious works of others....because few things fuel mojo like enjoying the creativity of your fellow mojo-meisters.

Welcome!! May the Mojo be with you!!