Setting And Staying The Course

There was no blog post last week. If you watched the video, you already know I was having a really rough week and needed a break from documenting everything I was making in order to do work that was just for me. Whether or not you are in business, this is absolutely critical. Everything you create cannot be for someone else at the expense of your own nourishment. If there is more "should do" than "want to do" in your creative environment, it's important to stop and take a measure. What feeds you?

This week, I drove forty-five minutes to attend a fiber art group in a nearby town. I've been wanting to be a part of a group for a long time and there isn't one where I live... or not one that I've discovered. It was a FABULOUS group. They were incredibly friendly and welcoming and I was so glad I went even though... ... I am no longer making quilts or wall art like they are. This was another opportunity to assess my course and to determine if it's the right one for me or if it needs adjusting. Developing the YouTube channel has brought up the same issue several times. The video that has been the most popular so far was on a technical topic that I want to do more of but do not want to base my channel on. Last week's video was real and honest, the way that I am, and it caused more subscribers to leave than new ones to join. Shiny objects like the work of others... or rejection such as subscribers leaving... or pressure like the success or failure of a particular video... even someone really liking a piece of work that you are not that fond of... all have the potential to knock us off course. The way to stay the course is to know what it actually is.

What work are you trying to do? Where are the boundaries? What are you doing to develop your creativity within those boundaries? How will you know when it's time to move on? If you've been creating for a long time, you may know these answers and if not, you might find them helpful to consider.

Today's video is about making the slip pocket above right. It's a technique I developed to get the crisp corners I wanted. I experimented with endless ways to find this one because I am a diver. I tend to go deep into one or two creative forms rather than swimming across many. Knowing that about yourself makes things a lot easier. If you're a diver, don't berate yourself for being so single minded and if you're a swimmer, don't berate yourself for changing forms all the time. It's how you're made and what you need to embrace to get the most out of your creativity. You weren't programmed to operate differently. When I try to do several things at once, I only end up frustrated, tired, and non-productive. It's not me. When I make six or seven different prototypes to get the bag shape and details I want, I'm in my element. Because I've identified my course, I'm able to set goals and parameters around it in terms of both personal and professional creativity. With developing the business, I know that I care far less about what "they" want and almost entirely about what I want, which is to make bags that are NOT cookie-cutter, mass produced bags that could be found anywhere at anytime. My objective is to create unique, original, one-of-a-kind, art bags and to teach others how to create their own art bags. Having a clearly defined "mission statement" like this shapes the types of patterns I develop, the videos I produce, and how I fill the bag's form. And I know what success looks like... ... even though success is subjective. It's different for everyone. I am grateful to have the luxury of defining the success of the business along creative terms and not financial ones. At this point, I have invested most of the money I set aside to start the business and I won't be investing any more, not even to buy better equipment to attract more viewers... hopefully. There are not guarantees, no magic formula. They either come with what I have or they don't. Nor will I be shifting away from the work I want to share to something that's more popular. I call that creative prostitution and no thanks. The financial aspects of the business will either succeed or fail as I've outlined them while the creative aspects of the business will succeed no matter what.

The image above left is of the front and back of some snail pendants for my grandsons for Christmas so shhh... don't tell them. The boys found the shells while we were out hiking when they visited this summer and wanted me to make them new snail pendants because the ones I'd made previously had broken. They are made from epoxy clay. First, I pushed clay into the shells to strengthen them from the inside since the last ones had crushed during rough and tumble boy play. Then, I created a curved form with a textured back. And finally, I attached the snail shell to the form, filled and textured the remaining edges, and embedded a hanging loop. With the leftover clay, I made several buttons. Both the pendants and the buttons where highlighted with silver and copper gilder's paste. This may sound like I suddenly changed topics but no... I made these pendants the way I wanted to make them using techniques that were different from the originals even though my grandsons wanted the new ones to be exactly like the old ones. I'm not doing metal work anymore and I couldn't find the energy to drag that equipment out plus they will most likely love these ones and forget about the others and even if they don't, I'm okay with that. MORE IMPORTANTLY... I believed I could do this even though I hadn't done it before. I believed in myself and my creative abilities. I experimented with several different ways to get the rounded shape and the textured surface. I mixed metals because that's what I had and what worked. I used repurposed ball chains in silver so the boys wouldn't end up with green necks from copper ones. I figured out what to do when the first forms were too big and when the clay didn't harden even after twenty-four hours. When I mixed too much clay, I didn't throw it away like I would have years ago. Instead, the scraps were used to make buttons. These decisions are part of my course including... to use the skills I have and to continue to develop new ones... to repurpose and recycle parts and allow that choice to push me creatively... to not waste and instead use "scraps" in new ways as much as possible... to explore the forms that appeal to me like creative clothing, handbags, jewelry, and buttons. To... and I could go on. Knowing what you want to do and how you want to do it, knowing the way in which you work, will help you not only to set but to stay your course. Once you've clearly identified that course and established boundaries for exploring it, you'll find your creativity grows in leaps and bounds. And every once in a while, either by the calendar - as I do on my birthday and at the end of the year - or by "viral" events - like a successful video or subscribers leaving - evaluate, adjust, and then continue on. You'll be the better for it. Talk soon - Myrna Grateful: I am grateful to know my course.