Wait before you cut it up…Fight the Voice of Judgment!

6 06 2011

Half a year ago, I attempted my first Right Angle Weave (RAW) project.

I designed a piece combining two different patterns from two different sources.  One was a basket weave stitch, and one was a RAW links bracelet.  It was quite an ambitious project.

I’d invested about 70 hours in this piece.  I was on my last link when an insidious whisper started in the back of my mind.  It grew into a howling crescendo of doubt.  Here is the progression:

…this is starting to get really messy

…actually, it’s a hideous mess

…no one is going to be willing to pay for this monstrosity

…this whole thing is a huge mistake

…you’ve wasted your time and your effort

…who are you kidding, anyway?

…you have no business doing this

… just save the beads.

That’s when I picked up the scissors and began cutting off the picot around the edges.

Then, that part of me that recognizes self-sabotage prompted me to put down the scissors and call a friend.

Before I called Deborah, I e-mailed pictures to another friend, Stephanie, to see if she thought the piece would end up on regretsy.com.  Both of these wonderful women are artists and art teachers.  Thank goodness that I reached out to each of them in that time of despair and doubt.  I’d like to share their words of wisdom:

Stephanie called me after she received the pictures I sent via e-mail.  She said, “This happens to every artist at some point.  You are taking a risk, and this is the capital V (voice), capital O (of), capital J (judgment).”

She continued, “The Voice Of Judgment strikes when you are faced with the internal conflict of taking a risk, and the best thing that you can do is to ignore that voice.  By the way, this bracelet it is absolutely stunning.  Keep Going.”

Deborah: “You want to cut this piece up because it is the best thing you have ever made.”  She continued, “This is about fear.  You must overcome your fear.  Don’t show this to another other person until it is finished. Get back in the studio and finish this piece.  Right now.”

So, armed with the support of my two wise art teacher friends, I completed the piece.  Incidentally, it’s the one featured in my gravatar on the brown leather.

I am so glad that I did.  Had I followed that impulse to cut up weeks’ worth of work, I suspect that I would not be beading today.  The self-doubt would have gained too great a foothold.

There is a time when it’s appropriate to whip out those scissors in an effort to redeem a project, and that’s when we know we have made a technical error.  I suspect that, like so many other beadweavers, I am a perfectionist at heart, and if I know I’ve made a mistake, I will correct it.

However, that is an entirely different thing than cutting something up because I fear it is ugly or that others will think the piece is a monstrosity.

So here are my words of inspiration for the day: ignore that voice of judgment, folks.  Overcome the temptation to sabotage yourself.  Fight your fear.  Acknowledge mistakes and correct them; then, keep going.

Finish that piece, for it may well be the best thing you’ve ever made.

~ Rebecca Renee


Artists and Our Love for Raw Material

16 05 2011

There seems to be one universal thing that bead workers, artists, and crafts(wo)men have in common: we love our material.  What is it about those strands or tubes of beads, those pots of glaze, those planks of wood?  How can supplies hold such power over us?

I suspect that it has much to do with our recognition of the potential that exists within those materials.  Raw materials represent the first stage in a complex emotional process of creating a work of art.  Joy, excitement, and, at times, urgency, are the beginnings of a beautiful process:  the creation of something that has never existed before.   It is about turning something with potential into something that is greater than the sum of its parts.

We artists and crafts(wo)men know, deep within, a fundamental equation:

Materials + Energy + Knowledge + Skill + Imagination + Time + Effort   = Creation

Think about that for a moment, if you will.

Granted, we expend the energy to work with those materials, we draw upon our knowledge and skills to use the materials effectively, and we use our imagination.  It all comes together in a really successful piece when the formula works out just right.

But first comes our material!  And what a wonderful source of inspiration for us all!

If Aristotle had it right (and forgive me for taking some liberties here with his Metaphysics), we find happiness and pleasure through the use of our creative energy.  We become beings at work, creating and turning potential into an actual end.  It is through our intellect that we can shape things into their final form(s).  As I read it, Aristotle claimed that this was a function of the soul.

When we reach for that tube of tohos or delicas or tub of glaze or tube of paint, or whatever, we celebrate the beginning of that end – that final form – that act of creation – that fulfillment of the soul.

I have to admit that I have proclaimed myself a “bead addict.”  But, I’m starting to question whether I should label myself in such a manner.  Perhaps it would be better to embrace something without any negative connotations: my heartfelt love for potential.

The only way that potential can go to waste is if the material sits there, waiting.  Waiting for me, waiting for you.


Dear Beadweavers, Does Your Soul Fly Free?

10 05 2011

A man in a bar walks up and says, “Wow.  Whatcha’ workin’ on?”  The woman emerges from her bubble of focus – her calm space – and replies, “It’s a bracelet.”

In speaking those words, she opens her ears to the raucous hoots and hollers that accompany a contentious football game in a packed tavern on a Sunday afternoon.  She opens her nose to wafts of stale ale, her feet to a sticky floor.  She opens her mind (but, perhaps, not her whole heart) to interaction with another.

She sees that this man is older, and has a smile in his eyes.  “My wife used to bring her knitting to the games, too.  Football’s not for you, either, eh?”  At that point, the beadweaver decides to talk to this kind person.  She has nice conversation with the man about spending time with her husband, being productive, and multi-tasking.  Oh, and of course, being a marginal Packers fan by association.

She brings her beadwork to the bar. 

“Boy, that sure is fine work.  These old eyes sure couldn’t handle it.”  She smiles, and conveys how it’s becoming harder to do as she reaches her forties, and how she hopes that her eyes hold up for a lot longer.

Time to get back to her work, her refuge. “Enjoy the game.  Nice meeting you, sir.”

She makes her art whenever she can.  Because she knows that it brings her peace she does not find anywhere else, or during any when, for that matter.  And she knows she won’t be able to do it forever.

Fellow beadweavers, jewelers, metalsmiths, bead loomers, pattern designers, crafters, artists: I believe that you know of what I speak.  There is something deeper to our work than mere productivity.  We engage in a special process, a unique activity.  We are a unique subdivision of humanity, despite comments others might make about how “anyone can bead.”

Our souls fly when we work.  Why is this?

Welcome to my blog: The Esoteric Beadweaver.  It is dedicated to all of us who love to work with our hands, whether it is for commercial, or personal, interests.  It is also dedicated to those of us who think about what we do and why we do it.

Why is having a conversation about these things important?  Easy answer: Inspiration.

Sometimes a new technique or new material is not a sufficient source for inspiration.  And there aren’t many sources out there on the WWW for crafters and artists to talk about what motivates us to create.  By talking about what motivates us, we become inspired to create even more.

Many of us have great intellect, and we engage that part of ourselves while we create.  I’m interesting in hearing about your thoughts!

What do you mull over when you stitch those beads or polish that metal or design that piece?  What do you gain from your craft, your art?  In what ways is it your refuge?

For me, this painstaking (and oh, so pleasurable) work helps me on a profound level.  It is healing.  It is contemplative.  It allows my soul to fly free of the distractions of daily living, even when I am surrounded by chaos.

Is this true for you, as well?  Let’s talk about it.
Here.  Now.  While we may.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ Rebecca Renee