Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Not Knowing Adventure

Thirty years ago, I made a decision to sew or knit only one project at a time. Twenty-one years ago, I made a decision to write. Twelve years ago, I made a decision to work predominately with fabric and wool and to ignore other art forms. Nine years ago, I made a decision to move away from traditional patterned work and to learn to intuitively create abstract wall art. Three years ago, I stopped creating wall art and started sewing fashions again. Two years ago, I began to actively work toward sewing creative everyday fashions. And so it goes.

Some of these decisions remain consistent in the form I chose them in and some have evolved and changed shape. None of them has been wrong and all of them have led me in interesting directions which makes it somewhat easier for me to look at making new decisions.

While fabric still fascinates me and I can't imagine not sewing and while I have numerous ideas for taking sewing even further along the creative everyday wear path including the t-shirt series, over the past few weeks I've realized that working with fabric is not enough. Perhaps it's because I'm no longer in business or perhaps it's because I have more time to create than I had before. Whatever the reason, I need a boarder repertoire, and in particular I need new adventures filled with not knowing.

Remember, your artist is a child. Find and protect that child. Learning to let yourself create is like learning to walk. The artist child must begin by crawling. Baby steps will follow and there will be falls - yecchy first paintings, beginning films that look like unedited home movies, first poems that would shame a greeting card. Judging your early artist effort is artist abuse. There will be many times when we want to look good - to ourselves or anyone else. We need to stop demanding that we do. It is impossible to get better and look good at the same time. - The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron

Patti and I are having a play date today to begin creating jewelry. I'd like my pieces to be made predominately from fabric along the lines of the two examples above. The top one is $285.00 by Palnitska and the second one is $45.00 by Nicaeli which could start a whole discussion about why is the one so much more expensive than the other and how does one artist manage to sell at that price while another can't but we won't go there. I'd be detouring and avoiding what I'm really talking about because...

... if I'm honest, I'm terrified to even begin because I know I'm putting unreasonable pressure on myself to create absolutely gorgeous pieces immediately. I can't. I won't. That's not how it's done. What I need is to try this and try that and experiment and fail and sort of succeed and make one beautiful piece and many ugly pieces and then some more beautiful pieces before I can move forward in jewelry with the kind of confidence I now have - forty years later - with sewing.

I know that. I've even talked about it before. What I haven't done is anything about it and perhaps being terrified - now that I'm willing to admit that I am - is the reason why I've managed to put off making jewelry for so long and why I've invited a friend to peer pressure me into moving forward. On some level, I am comparing my not even yet made, step one, beginner work to the work of long-term artists with a well developed skill set. This is comparing apples to oranges. I - like so many of us - want to fast forward and be amazing now except creativity is an incremental activity. It develops step-by-step.

And I think there's another level - two types of terrified - a fear that if I start to explore other art forms outside of fabric, I might lose my love of fabric and since I've invested so much time, money, energy, and literal space to the development of that art form and since so much of my life revolves around that art form, the loss would create a huge hole and many layers of grief that I'd much rather avoid but - then again - not moving on creates those same layers in a different way. SO... if I think of fabric and I as having a relationship, it would seem I'm putting too much pressure on one "person" to make me happy and "she" might appreciate a break and in fact, it could make the relationship stronger. Weird but it works for me.

Artist dates are a significant part of The Artist's Way program. Julia describes them as a block of time, perhaps two hours weekly, especially set aside and committed to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. In its most primary form, the artist date is an excursion, a play date that you preplan and defend against all interlopers. You do not take anyone on this date but you and your inner artist, a.k.a. your creative child. That means no lovers, friends, spouses, children - no taggers-on of any stripe.

Yesterday, after journal writing, I walked across from Starbucks to the dollar store and slowly wandered up and down the aisles. While I was looking at everything, I was particularly looking for small cardboard boxes. The ones above are 5 1/2" square, firmly built, and cost only a dollar. Together, they are six forms to fill, six blank canvases. Along with needing to expand my repertoire, I'm - finally - acknowledging that I want to play with gesso and GAC and paint and other supplies that I have a limited knowledge of - and no experience with - and yet have nicely stashed on the shelves in my laundry room. Apparently, I've been wanting this for a while, strongly enough to start collecting but not strongly enough to start.

Why I want to decorate some boxes or play with gel mediums, I don't know because I have no love of glue or glitter or any other sticky mucky thing so we'll see how this goes. Perhaps, it's a journey about to begin and perhaps, it's a singular series never to be explored again. And both are fine. Years ago, when I wrote and taught Art Women Life, I made a "positive book" by decorating a Christmas card box and filling it with twelve small fabric pieces, the homework from each lesson.

The lid turned out very textural with a mix of paint and thread and scrabble letters and buttons and beads and... and... and... Sometimes when I look at it, I'm incredibly impressed and sometimes when I look at it, I think I threw every technique I knew at the cover and hoped for the best. The later is probably more accurate. And that's okay because the tickle has stayed with me and - as I mentioned last week - sewing the series of little girl twirl coats has opened my eyes to how much I like working in series and to a desire to push boundaries in new areas. This is good.

On a totally different topic, I received a package of thread in the mail yesterday. I use more black serger thread than any other color and I wanted larger spools that wouldn't run out so quickly. The spool on the right is 1,634 yards, 4 each for $16.00 at Fabricland. The spool on the left is 12,000 yards, 4 each for $39.99 at Silhouette Patterns. The Silhouette spools are over seven times larger and only two and half times the price. The equivalent yardage from Fabricland would be $117.00. The Silhouette spools are DEFINITELY the better deal and available in black and white.

AND NOW... I'm off to journal and then meet Patti and start the not knowing adventure. Wish me well. Be prepared for yucky pieces - VBG.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - creative energy, new frontiers


  1. Myrna, I just want to say...keep going. :-) I have clipped parts of your recent posts to my Evernote acct and am stirring them gently. Thanks for sharing your process.

    1. Stirring them gently. What a lovely approach and a way of being kind to ourselves. Thanks for sharing that phrase and for your encouragement. It's much appreciated. Sometimes I wonder about blogging - is it too vulnerable, too falling apart in public, too much information, over sharing - but most of the time I think it's a wonderful platform for connecting and for supporting and encouraging others and for realizing that we are all - in different shapes and forms - on the same journey and we are not alone.

  2. I started making jewelry for me about 2 years ago. I pick it up and put it down. Sometimes it just calls me and I have to sit down and play with the beads. There is something soothing about changing a pile of beans into something wearable. Playing with beads gives me a quick zen fix unless I'm bouncing beads across the floor. I've had a few things fall apart. It is a little embarrassing to have to stop and pick up pieces of your necklace. lol. I hope that you enjoyed your play date.

    1. I admire your ability to allow it to be soothing. I seem to be challenging the form wanting to use a different medium and take it in energizing directions. Soothing sounds so much better.

      LOL - as long as it doesn't break right after you said why yes, I did make this necklace, you're okay. It'll get blamed on someone else. Do you have a source for fabulous focal beads? Big ones. Really beautiful. I find them hard to find and really expensive when I do.

  3. I find the "not knowing" really hard - so I admire your courage. I think that's why I sew basics a lot and while I'm tempted and have lots of ideas...haven't actually made a "mixed print" knit top. We'll see. Maybe this weekend - I'm back to my doctor, stomach issues again (apparently I'm stressed VBG). But your posts are great, and I don't comment as I'm very short on time right now (but getting better there). I agree with your comment - we're all journeying....it's lovely of you to share yours with us. Hope your playdate was fun. I love the box idea!

    1. Already - in the first few weeks. PLEASE take care of yourself.

      I'm surprised by how much I enjoy not knowing and how it's become a critical ingredient of the creative endeavors I really enjoy. I certainly didn't start out that way. I think the boxes will be fun but more importantly I think pushing through and doing six boxes will teach me a lot - about boxes and about the supplies/techniques but mostly about do I want to play with boxes.

    2. Working on it. I'm planning on taking a day this week to take care of myself (which seems a better use of sick leave) and hopefully will mean I'll have time on the weekend to catch my breath.

  4. I could imagine wearing the Palnitska necklace (although I would never spend that money on ANYTHING), but not the Nicaeli one.
    I saw two different styles, although I do wonder about the difference in cost.

    Actually I suspect what I mean is 'I would like to be the sort of person who I imagine would wear that sort of thing'.

    1. I know exactly what you mean by I would like to be the sort of person. Do you see thoughts like that as clues to your style? or personality? or... ? Lately - for me - I've realized that some times the end of the sentence is... and I'm not. And that's okay. I am who I am.


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