Friday, June 27, 2014

Freeform Friday: freedom

Any proximity to this post and the Fourth of July - purely coincidental. 

The last two weeks for me have been insanely busy. And I am not complaining... I AM a full time artist, and I love it. But it was the perfect storm of Ceramics class to teach, commissions due, gallery visits scheduled to deliver work, and two back to back festivals/shows to prep for... 

So I warn you, this is a philosophical post. There aren't many beads... ok. Just a few - I have started to think about Beadfest prep. Not really creating inventory, just feeling concerned that I haven't jumped into this yet. I was glazing these texture pieces for ^10 reduction. They will be lovely, but it was a rote chore. Stain, brush, sponge, repeat. 

While I was working, my teenage students were sculpting. Self guided, in the zone... designing and creating relief tiles inspired by Medieval illuminated letters.  I wanted the freedom to create on a whim, and not have to create to meet a quota... My Mythic Nature line of pendants and tiles  are done in a series. Sculpt, cast a mold, and press multiples. While I find a creative Zen place when hand painting all the details, it is still a different type of creativity. Its my established body of work, a line I continually carry... and I think I need a little freedom to play as well. 

Illuminated letter tile in progress. 

And don't even get me started on the little ones ( ages 6-9). Its a fine line between the necessary instruction they need to technically complete a piece, and the uninhibited creativity they tap into on their own. I try to stay out of their way! And guide as needed... Their spontaneity and joy in smooshing clay around was EXACTLY the role model I needed to set me free from my self imposed constraints.
Coil built creatures

Terra cotta menagerie. 
Afternoons after class I was glazing a series of five tiles - a fifth anniversary present that I can't reveal totally to you yet. I had a tight deadline and no time to waste. The experience of designing and sculpting these tiles was FREEDOM. And I know that seems hard to believe with a commission. But they are for a family friend who is very familiar with my work, and very artistic in her sensibilities. We had discussed, she had seen rough sketches, and she gave me the green light to go ahead on that trajectory and surprise her. 

Seasonal tiles at glaze table... 
Completed "Spring" tile
It was a creatively rejuvenating experience. I was able to sculpt in deep relief, not concerned with the technicalities of casting a mold later on. Sculpting new motifs, within a "four seasons' theme that appeals to me artistically and personally. I came away from this with new ideas, a line of One-of-a-kind tiles I plan to sculpt this summer and fall. I think a new series of tiles, to develop in tandem with my production tiles will keep me challenged creatively and banish the feelings of rote production and stagnation. 

Whew. heavy topics I know. Thank you for bearing with me. I am energized after that spell of intense work/art/creativity/projects. Ready for new ideas, new pieces. So two weeks WITHOUT work (on beads, pendants, etc) has jump started my ideas for NEW work... 

I will share more tile images when I can. And I have a hankering to do terra cotta cabs & pendants for Beadfest. Oh! And some Majolica... I'll post on that next time! 

What do YOU do when you are feeling stuck? Worn down? Uninspired? 

May you have sparks of new ideas all weekend! 



  1. Haha, SLEEP! Like Kathy, I put it aside for as long as I need to, and I give myself permission to be utterly unproductive and even vegetative. (But then I don't make my living at it, otherwise I doubt I'd have that luxury.) Lately I haven't felt much like making jewelry so I've done some home decor stuff instead--it scratched my creative itch but was still "new." I'd definitely have to come up with some other coping strategy if I had to pay the bills with it!

  2. So happy that you are reinvigorated and filled with new ideas! I am in a very blah time just now. I don't know why. Trying to step back and just do the required work and nothing more, for a bit.

  3. Beautiful tiles Jenny - I get frustrated very easily if I do too much by rote too so when I do have to do it I try to build an hour into each session just to play - sometimes at the end as a treat and sometimes mid-way through if I've feeling restricted. it does seem to help.


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