Creativity, Art and Spirituality

In the continuing search for how to become more creative, I add several new suggestions.

#7.  You must have a connection with the arts.

It is my firm belief that a civilization is remembered through its arts.  Knowledge of the history of your art form will serve as an inspiration and allow you to carry on conversation about your artform in an intelligent and cultured manner.  You don’t have to spend the afternoon in a museum.  How about an afternoon at your favorite book store?  Recently, my friend, student and sister, Kathleen Krucoff, purchased a book of Mucha’s paintings. ThoughI have loved his work, which he produced during the fin-de-siecle, I never realized how much the colors spoke to me.  When Kathleen shared the book with me, I fell in love with his work and colors all over again.  Later, I pulled out my old 19th century art history text, and spent a snowy afternoon in front of the fireplace looking at the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and reintroduced myself to one of my favorite paintings, Flaming June, by Frederic Lord Leighton.  This Victorian era painting has held my attention for many years, and I have a small   reproduction in my study.  Suddenly I realized just how much I love the color orange.  There is power and majesty, mystery and magic in orange.

Suddenly so much color has come alive in my world.  I am stopping by windows in the mall while Christmas shopping, and looking at color.   I realize that whatever connection you have in the arts, and art comes in many diverse forms,  it will effect your life.  At this time of the year, here in the mountains of Colorado, the cold, crisp mornings  bless us with rosy Alpenglow on the mountains, and deep evenings grace us with magnificent blues.  As I drove home from our gallery in Fairplay,  Coyote Creek Studio Arts, it was about 7 degrees, with imminent snow, and crystal clear.  The world was a deep periwinkle, with yellow tiny twinkling lights of ranch houses in the distance.   Mannheim Steamroller’s “Silent Night” was playing through my  car speakers on my iPod. It was like a scene from a Meg Ryan movie.  But it was also the color of the blue Swarvoski crystals.  So a new beaded bracelet was born, and today I’m cutting out snowflakes,  (Ok, maybe  only one, since they are so complicated) and have made a new bracelet for a gift for my neighbor.   All of this has come from my friend, Katheen, casually showing me her new art book.  Thank you, my friend.

Along with this comes another suggestion, and the time is right for this one.

#8  You must have a spiritual practice or belief.

I am an archaeologist by schooling.  I have studied many cultures, but two in microscopic detail.  One is a neolithic pre-Judaic/Christian nature based culture.  The other is a collective ethnic grouping of stone age/contemporary cultures, again with an Earth based spirituality.  One thing I have learned from both cultures is they are art-based, and in one culture, the word “nung” means both people and pottery.  Their art is so inter-related with their spiritual practices that you virtually cannot tell where one stops and another begins. In that culture, they do a private ceremony before they start their artwork.  At that time, they ask for the Earth Mother’s guidance in their work, and thank her for her gifts and offer that their work is acceptable in Her sight.  I find this extremely comforting and calming.  As Julia Cameron states in her inspiring series, “The Artist’s Way,” some people are uncomfortable with the word “God”.  However, it can stand for Good, Orderly Design.  So at this time of the year, when we speak of many miracles,  stop and thank the Earth Mother for her goodness in supplying the materials with which you work.  Those materials, themselves, are a pretty fantastic miracle. I’m fairly certain that whatever you work with has been mined from the Earth Mother,  and she has kept these treasures safe in her bosom for eons,  offering them to you as a vehicle for you creativity.  Try to do your part, and make Mom proud.  Who knows, she may put a photo of it on her refrigerator door.  The world of nature and art is a banquet, and yet so many people insist on starving.

May the beauty and quietness of the snow delight your senses.


Welcome to My World

Hello and welcome to my jewelry, life and teaching blog.  This is a new experience for me.  Being an old (well, maybe not that old)  professor and field archaeologist, I am used to writing out everything long hand.  On a yellow tablet. So I would like to thank my son, Jim, for bringing me into the 21st century by giving me my first iPod, which turned me onto Apple computers.  From that first gift, the rest, as they say, is history.  My loving husband, Mark, is a huge “Applelope”, and my technical advisor.  But one of my best friends, student, and sister, Kathleen Krucoff is the real reason I’m here posting this.  Without her patience and guidance I would still be writing on a yellow tablet.

This blog is named The Torch because that’s my “mafia” name, bestowed upon me by CoMA (Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc) posse member, and close friend,  Julie Jerman-Melka, when my first article on setting up your torch for jewelry was published for Jewelry Artist magazine.  For someone who started out scared to light a torch, my life has taken on new meaning after learning that “A Day Without Soldering is like a Day Without Sunshine”.  That would be a great C/W song title, or bumper sticker.  So here we go……

I have just returned from participating in the Copper Country Art Festival in Copper Mountain, Colorado.   My good friend, Pat Pocius, from South Park Pottery and Back Room Beads in Fairplay, CO,  and I had done that show together back in the 90’s, when there were over 400 vendors,  accompanied by fabulous music festival,  to boot.  It’s was quite a bit smaller this year, with only about 20 vendors, but the music was still good.  The people still flocked to hear Michael Michael Murphy and America, among others,  and I sold a number of pieces.  This was only the second show I’ve done since 1999.  Because of Mark’s job, we have lived in Chile for a number of years, and then in Bethlehem, PA for 3 years.   Though I participated in gallery shows through Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths, which I was honored to be their President,  I had not done a show on my own.  Truthfully, it was fun, but a lot of hard work.  The stress of getting ready for the show, producing new pieces and wondering if the public will like them, packing all your “stuff”, setting up, standing in 54 degree weather all day, and then repacking and coming home  and unpacking is an ordeal.  No, it’s a real pain.  BUT, do you get many benefits from doing a show.

1. You get the public’s immediate response to your work, both good and bad. Like I found that putting a ball chain on my pieces was not something the public liked.  This feed back is invaluable.

2.  You get new ideas from people who stop to visit with you.  “Have you thought about putting this with that….?”

3.  Networking with other artists is tremendous opportunity to learn.. I found out from water color artist, Todd Winters, about two shows back in Texas.  They are in the town where I grew up, and he says they are great. I’ll try those next year.  It would be fun to re-connect wth old friends.

4.  Which is another reason to do shows, I reconnected with a good customer from the shows in the 90’s.  It was good to be back in touch, and I’ll put her on my email list for future shows.

5.  Even though Sundays high was only 54 degrees, it felt good to be in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It was a glorious week-end.

6.  There is no commission to galleries.  You do all the work, you get all the money.  Truthfully, the jury is still out on this one.  I have to figure out if 50% to a gallery is worth all the fore-mentioned stresses.

7.  Mark and I spent a whole week end together, no TV, no couch “potato-ing”, just sharing the experiences of good music, making memories, and meeting new people, some who will become repeat customers, I’m sure, and some will just pass through our lives, but they left our lives enriched.

So, take the plunge. Try out a show in your area.  It forces you to create new pieces within a time frame.  And one thing I have learned, “Creativity begats creativity.”  If you’re not busy making new things, you don’t grow.

So now, I’m off the the studio to make a few cuff bracelets for this week-ends Castle Rock Art Festival.  I’ll be on the right side near the entry.  Hope to see you there.

Please feel free use this blog to ask questions regarding jewelry making, shows, etc.  Questions regarding the meaning of life will have to be forwarded on, since I have a few answers, but maybe not what you are looking for.  Until then,  may all your bezels fit.