Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Spiraling At A New Level

Most of us want to run from our fear. We want to be anyone but who we are and be anywhere but here. Gaining greater maturity involves getting to know our demons and the insecurity they evoke. Most of us consider anger, disappointment, resentment, and frustration as feelings we should avoid. Our emotions actually bring us information about the issues we're facing and what we need. If we accept that struggle and pain are an inherent part of life and are willing to learn from difficult situations, we can discover a new sense of freedom. Even when we have no idea of how things are going to turn out, if we allow ourselves to accept what's occurring, and acknowledge our feelings, no matter how painful they may be, the situation will become more manageable. - page 139, If Not Now, When? by Stephanie Marston

Not every day, but many days, I will meet someone interesting at Starbucks while I'm journal writing. I enjoy people and I'm not hesitant to initiate a conversation if I think it might be welcome. Last week, I met a woman who journals every day as I do. She was just beginning The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. Since I've worked through the book twice before, I offered to discuss it if she wanted to and then, just in case she took me up on my offer, I decided I would read it again. Good thing - because we're meeting on Monday and because I discovered - surprise - that I actually need to read it again. It seems I'm stuck.

A strange thing has been happening in the studio over the past year especially. It's like I'm frozen. It happened again yesterday when I showed Patti the embroidered cotton I bought while visiting my daughter. That particular yardage has textured embroidery along each selvage. Patti thought it would be perfect at the hemline of a top to which I replied my hips don't need the accent and then I rattled off at least half a dozen different ways to use the fabric. She said she was inspired by the possibilities.

I'm thrilled to inspire her but I wonder why when I put my hand on the fabric do I have all those ideas and yet the fabric will go into the stash and never get cut up? Being frozen like this is always fear. Being frozen is not totally unfamiliar - it happens to most artists at some point or points along their journey. Julia talks about cycling back through issues that we thought we'd finished dealing with and how we're never finished, we're simply spiraling at a new level. LOL - apparently I'm spiraling at a new level.

I sat down to write this post on Tuesday afternoon. Patti had just left for home. Our play date was over and the beginning elements of my necklace were truly ugly. I found myself wanting to cry from a mix of emotions. Before she left, I asked Patti if she would wear fabric and she replied that she'd wear leather or silk or a beautiful scarf but she would not wear a fabric necklace unless it was truly amazing because fabric has an unsophisticated, craft-like, overtone. I completely agreed with her. I've looked a lot of fabric necklaces and the majority of them are not what I'm imaging when I think about creating a necklace. That observation led to a discussion of...


... 99.9 percent of the fabric necklaces I see are not the level of amazing that I want to create than why do I believe that I'm the .01 percent? I'm pretty sure I don't believe I am but Patti said it didn't matter. She said what mattered is that I keep coming back to wanting to make fabric necklaces and that there's something there inside of me that wants out and I need to push past that wall. Talk about a taskmaster. THAT is why I'm so thrilled to be in a creativity group. She has my number. She told me I was over thinking and stop that and do something. LOL - really ? ? ? Over thinking ? ? ? Me ? ? ?

At the start of our play date, I'd shown Patti a selection of inspirational necklace images. All of them were nice but not amazing like this piece of Diane Ericson's. After I'd fiddled and futzed and come up with my piece of ugly, I showed her this image and we spent half an hour discussing the different elements and the way in which it appeared to have been developed from the cords upward. One of the things I especially love about this piece is how the eye moves back and forth between two focal points of nearly equal tension, an element I try to bring into my own work.

When we were discussing the necklace, we talked about the "stuff" Diane has incorporated into the piece. I feel quite confident in saying that Diane collects interesting stuff and has an amazing ability to think outside the box and see stuff's potential. I have a lot of beads and traditional jewelry supplies, but not a lot of stuff, and I think it's going to take some time and experience and success to begin to think from that perspective... if I ever do at all.

Here's my piece in front of the computer screen next to Diane's piece. I do believe that this would qualify as comparing my fragile first step to the masterworks of another artist - LOL - however, it was also encouraging. My crumple of fabric became something more with the addition of Diane's background and suddenly Patti and I could both see potential.

It was only after Patti left that I realized the formation of Diane's necklace follows many similar rules to creating a corsage ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! That awareness made it more approachable since I've made corsages and flower arrangements before. I went to Michaels and gathered a selection of stuff, came home, threw it on the work table, and panicked. It's all garbage - VBG - and even so I'm going to push forward. One thing I know for sure - I absolutely CAN paint and stitch this stuff, I can do something with it.

I've agreed to have at least the parts of a piece ready to take to Patti's on Friday morning when our group of three gets together. That means, I have two days to persevere although in this case persevere means with the theme of making a necklace and not with this particular pink scrap. I'm done with it. Next up is some mottled denim lace and a necklace that starts with the cords. Since I've made cords for purses before, that's a comfortable beginning.

During midlife, women begin to realize that they can achieve whatever they set their sights on. Well, maybe not everything. We're probably not going to set any track records... or suddenly become the most famous opera star in the world. But this is exactly the moment when we should challenge ourselves to achieve the things we thought we couldn't do. This is one of the great, inspiring things about this period. Who cares if you're not going to win the world figure-skating championship, if you discover that you can, in fact, skate and you love it? What does it matter if your watercolors will never be seen by the masses or your rose garden isn't going to appear in Martha Stewart Living, if you find pleasure and satisfaction in a new creative expression? - page 168, If Not Now, When, by Stephanie Marston

Who cares if your fabric necklace is in the 99.9 percent and not the .01 percent if you conquered, moved forward on an idea, and learned from the process?

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - pushy friends and my "baby" turns twenty today. He's a wonderful young man


  1. I like the pink necklace...the magpie in me would add some beads to the pink part, sew some green fabric leaves on the sides, attach some wine or pink tubing, and WEAR It. After you've stared at something or worked at it for hours it's easy to lose perspective. Why not finish this piece (giving yourself a set time limit) and give it an outing and then see what you and others think. Two thoughts that might help moving forward: one, you made large-scale fabric art for years, so perhaps thinking like a miniaturist (in say, 1:12 scale) might be an excellent place to start for adapting your skills and eye to jewelry scale, and two, you love zero-waste, so I'm betting you'd be happier buying less "stuff" and making most components from what you have on hand. And yes, you can consider all of that an additional push. :-)

    1. LOL - which means the beads that are already in there are not visible enough. Good feedback. I agree that it's easy to lose perspective and at the same time, I know that listening to your artist/self is really important. There isn't a hope I'd wear that pink piece because it's heading in too fluffy a direction for me. Rather than get bogged down in trying to fix it, I'm going to see if moving around is a better option. The end result of this adventure will be interesting and will - hopefully - resolve the issue of fabric necklaces once and for all. I think tomorrow's posting will be talk about that more.

      I've actually done a lot of work in smaller sizes especially 5 x 7" and 8 x 12". It's a fabulous way to really push your skills and I'd highly recommend it. Sewing children's clothing is a similar adventure.

      The stuff that I'm missing in my stash are the points of interest - the focal point. With Diane's piece, there's a mix of ingredients - like collage - that combines fabric with cardboard with lace with metal with organza with beads and so on. I think that mix is what gives the piece more energy than fabric alone could create. The question then arises that if creating a fabric necklace is like creating a collage (or corsage) what will that mean for me. Is it similar enough to textile art or too far away from because paper collage work is definitely not my thing.

  2. Interesting analysis of Diane's piece--I see what you mean about a focal point. Even so, I'm not a fan. Clearly, fabric necklaces are not for me!

    1. LOL - I have SO MUCH that I could say but it'd spoil tomorrow's posting. We'll talk then.

  3. keep pushing through Myrna. It's good that you have a group to work with...nothing like a deadline. I can't wait to see what you come up with.

    1. One of the great advantages of being the age I am is learning when you've pushed long enough and it's time to exert that energy in a different direction. See the Sept 26th post. Thanks for the encouragement.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.