Decoding contemporary art and hand-crafting matters.

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Vintage & Antique Buttons Rock

Today I went to the bi-annual artist shindig Glitterfest in Santa Ana, California, where I often purchase vintage buttons – among other artsy materials. In honor of my new stash, I penned a somewhat poorly-conceived and rule-challenged Haiku:

Vintage button rack

Charming samples I shall buy and

Craft new finery.

Let’s hear it for artistic gatherings, fests, retreats and other creatively-bent events. They allow us to source unique and personally meaningful materials for our own projects!


When Buying Your Fave Mag @ the Store…

…don’t forget to check out their web-site! So many specialty magazines have an online presence with different, related content that couldn’t fit in the publication’s page allotment. Often, this information is more newsy or timely in nature, features free projects/demos/tutorials, and usually posts comments from readers. I always love to read these posts, because they are opinionated (“I tried this out and it didn’t work!”), analytical (“It won’t work if you don’t do this first!”) and time-saving (“Don’t bother with this – here’s a link to a better option for you!”).

When I Must Finish a Tedious Project…

…I simply kick back with some reality TV and power through it. Why not something a little more high-brow (like National Geographic Channel or it’s ilk)? Because then I’d want to watch and learn something. Figure out what your “white noise” is (if you don’t need complete silence) and, to quote Tim Gunn, “make it work.” Whether it’s music, old movies, or even a table fan, having background sound can give momentum to repetitive or uninteresting tasks.

Change Your Cooking – Change Your Life!

In order to preserve my sanity, I’m changing my cooking schedule to better reflect my life’s realities.

Big dinners from scratch are on the weekend. Week days are reserved for frozen dinner options courtesy of Trader Joe’s supermarket (with fresh fruit and yogurt from the farmer’s market).¬†When I’m feeling posh, jarred sauces from Williams Sonoma are a well-earned luxury – because they really do taste better than the average grocery store find.

Some years I’m Nigella Lawson, others I’m that mom from Malcolm in the Middle. Depends on the life stage I’m in!

Silent Movies – My Second Most Important Secret Weapon

Although music is my primary source of inspiration – just listening to the right album can set my mind wandering into fabulous worlds of my own making – it isn’t my only means of creative sourcing.

Silent movies are my second-most preferred gateway into idea surfing. Why? They are exotic enough to be from another time, but feature characters and situations that are still a part of the human condition. The musical scores accompanying them have no words to distract from the melodic story unfolding. And some of the sets and costumes are pure fantasy!

Oddly enough, exposing myself to this visual and aural culture really helps to fill up my creative gas tank, so to speak. I never feel stale or artistically stalled when there is another film to be discovered. And that helps my mind’s eye to dream up fanciful new whimsies.

Adding to Your Craft Stash

Independent craft retailers and chain stores aren’t the only game in town when fortifying your creative studio. Don’t forget about dollar shops, off-price and discount outlets, charity boutiques – even hardware stores – along with garage sales, estate liquidations and on-line searches. These source will often turn up unexpected, interesting tools and materials for your artful projects.

Happy National Crafting Month!

March is National Crafting Month! Each year, businesses both large and small in the creative community get involved with special projects, make-and-takes, tutorials – even sales promotions. It’s a great time to learn a new hobby and expand your artistic skill set. Perhaps you’d like the challenge of knitting a gorgeous scarf with yummy yarn, or tackling a tote with some newly-learned sewing skills. Cooking, woodworking, jewelry design… do a quick online search and find a pattern that strikes your fancy. Then research whether a teacher or a specialty shop can help start you on your journey (books are great, but personalized instruction can lower the frustration of a learning curve). Have a blast and good luck!

Recovery After a Setback

Sometimes, you can face a professional (or personal) set-back that can send you reeling and render you virtually helpless. When bad things happen to creative people – be it a betrayal of some sort, Machiavellian office politics, or the failure of a project among any number of things – creative people need to mobilize and face negativity head-on.

I am no psychologist, but I wanted to address this topic – however briefly – because as artists and innovators, we often have very deep sensitivities that we have to protect from damages. It’s crucial in order to keep a productive schedule.

So if you have experienced a blow to your psyche, here’s a few observations to help you through the trauma and move forward.

Recognize the event, and acknowledge that it has happened. Putting off this realization can only prolong the event’s hold over you, giving it more power than it originally held.

Understand what has taken place, and get a sense of what your feelings are. Are you angry? Fearful of repercussions? Disappointed that you let things go awry? What is it that you feel, and why are you feeling it? Being truthful about your emotions will allow for a deeper understanding of how to resolve them.

Figure out what the fall-out is (professional, or personal, or both) and come up with an action plan to deal with it. If you have to answer to others, doing so earlier, rather than later, with a resolution, can help make your position less vulnerable.

Be able to still appear busy if you need more time to recover. If you can handle it, try to do enough work at one time in a marathon session to get it over with. Then you can share it in smaller segments with some regularity so as to seem fully functional, even if you’re not. Professionally, sometimes we have to fake it even when things are off-kilter elsewhere in our lives.

Seek out help in dealing with what has happened. A trusted friend may be a good sounding board, but not always. Sometimes, a professional opinion is just the detachment you need in confronting pain and then moving on. Options include a therapist, mentor, career coach – even a personal trainer or hairdresser! Be judicious about whom you confide in, so there are no unexpected repercussions later.

Indulge in little luxuries. It’s at our most vulnerable times that we seem to care for ourselves the least. Ensure that your food choices give you energy, not empty calories. Don’t abandon the exercise – it’s therapeutic to kick out your frustrations. Use a body scrub or loofah in a cold water shower to promote blood circulation. Get a massage if you can. Anything that can impart a sense of physical peace is helpful.

Resolve to more forward by accepting any responsibility you may bear in the matter. Whether it’s big or small, taking any amount of responsibility for what has happened allows you to take back control. When you take back control, you reclaim your power. This is important – although things may never be as they were before, you can establish a new normalcy. And that goes a long way towards finding some sense of your former self.

I wrote this post quickly, from the heart, without any research. As I said, it would be brief, but hopefully not flippant. Because design is often inextricably linked with our personal selves (many projects are “our darlings” or “our babies,”) we need to take care when wounded, or the entire creative process shuts down. Most of us can’t afford to let that happen.

As I age, I am learning more about the art of travelling light, in every sense of the meaning. Increasingly, I have decided that if it won’t or can’t be buried with me, then it’s okay for me to let things go. This flies in the face of my (admittedly flawed) nature, but I’ve always considered myself a life-long learner.

Take care of yourself. Your artistic soul depends on it.






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