Craft Me This …


I have to say one thing about a creative person — when they get in their “supplies” element, they are like a kid on sugar with a kicker of Mountain Dew. 

People ask us why we like to sit and sew beads on clothes or make little earrings or crochet row after row after row of rows or write boring scenery descriptions or woodwork a cigar box or coffee table. After all, it all seems so boring!

I wonder if these people have truly ever seen creativity let loose in a craft or other specialty store.

I just spent the day with two of my best friends hitting stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and even Good Will. Talk about kids in a candy shop!

I myself am the novice of the group. I write, and also sew bling onto my t-shirts and other inanimate clothing. My other friends are marvelous crafters. One is big BIG into scrap-booking with an occasional crocheted blanket thrown in; the other sews jackets and crochets scarves and other things. One love LOVES paper and trim and little signs you past onto pages and patterned paper for special occasion pages. The other loves every color of yarn there is, along with long, lingering tippy finger tip touching of bolts and bolts of materials with quilts and little jackets in mind for her granddaughter. 

Me? I get brain freeze in the beads aisle. 

The point is, it’s easy to see why creative people love their craft. When in their element, when surrounded by people who understand why they stand in front of a rack of crystals-on-a-string for 10 minutes wondering what they could sew those onto, creative people leave this universe and enter an alternate reality.

In that alternate world they are Master Creators. They can make anything any time, any where, and it will be so magnificent even the angels will squint and say “holy moley!” Time has no meaning in a creative person’s alternate world; when you’re lost writing that perfect passage of love and passion or pensive thought, there is no time sheet. Love takes as long as it takes to write. No more, no less. 

As I’ve gotten older I’ve started surrounding myself with creative people. Not because I’ve changed friends — but because I’ve found out the people I’ve been around for a good chunk of my life are pretty creative on the side. I know painters, quilters, writers, lure makers, poets, wood carvers, fishermen, wood workers, sign makers, dog trainers, and more. Every one loves their craft. Every one of them strive to be better than they were yesterday. And aren’t we all like that in a way?

So some time when you’re bored, ask your neighbor or friend or co-worker what their creative craft is. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

And if you’re lucky, one day you will be wandering up and down the craft store aisle when a sticker or pearl bead or a piece of wood catches your eye.  Then we will be wandering through the store looking for you, calling out your name.

Holey Moley!

Trial and Error is Better Than a Bottle of Whine

trialI had almost a whole blog finished this evening, one about deer ticks and broken teeth and watching Face Off. But when I reread it, all I saw was creatively written whine.  The beautiful thing about typing on a computer is that with one sweep I can delete it all.

But what about second thoughts? What if I destroy something that one day may be my Pulitzer Prize?

I imagine my friends in other arts have the same dilemma. Graphic art, photography, writing, pottery — there’s always those pieces that you gave your heart and soul to and it still sucks. So you redo it. Rewrite it. Re-form it.

But how many times to you redo it?

I would love to hear from my graphic artist friends or sculptor friends or my scrapbooking friends. How many times to you redo something to get it “perfect”? And if you DO redo it, HOW do you do it?

Writing is simple yet complex. Often my stories, novels, poems, and other ditties start out with notes or research of some kind. Not like the Encyclopedia Britannica, but I try and create an ocean of information so that I can eventually reduce it to a cup full of water. Quite like my research for my Sunday Evening Art Gallery. Writing about Doors? Collect images of 30 different doors so I can choose 8. Writing about Nail Art? Download 20 images so you can share 7. Writing about life in 1880? Better check out things like electricity, transportation, and currency, even if the reference is only a couple of sentences long.

I keep every other version of my creations, cutting here, adding there, rearranging when needed. As the years go by I get rid of the middle versions — I’ve either moved forward and created a masterpiece, or it just hasn’t “done it” for me. I have a computer full of half-formed ideas, research that goes nowhere, poetry that needs real work. I decide what I want to work on, what I still need to research, and what was a great idea at the time but now, no thank you.

How do you deal with developing your craft? Do you network? Do you draw a basic image and then play with that same image until you get what you want? Do you you have pages and pages of canvas that hold various versions of your final masterpiece? Do you have stacks of pottery that look nothing like what you wanted to create?

My notebooks are glimpses of my thoughts through time. I’ve kept some since I started writing in earnest years ago. It’s fun going back and seeing my thought processes through the years. Sometimes I go back and reignite the embers that once burned brightly. Other times I just smile and see why the ideas are still only in a notebook.

I think beginner crafters can learn from our paths of trial and error. The thrill of creating something unique is made from the sweat and love and honesty that comes from somewhere deep inside. Some pick one idea, one idea, and stick with it from beginning to end. Others have trial and error experiences, realizing a particular path was pretty much a dead end from the beginning. So we choose a different path. A different path in the same endless woods.

I feel so much better when I write about the Craft. If I ever unlocked the door to the Hallway of Infinite Doors, I would find worlds that I love almost as well — drawing, stenciling, jewelry making, gardening. I would never have a life because my life would exist in the next dimension — the ethereal one. The Creative Arts one. I only hope you feel that way about your Craft too.

Oh, btw — the tick bite wasn’t infected, my broken tooth gets fixed in the morning, and Face Off is down to its final three.

Life is good.

Oh Euglena … Come Out and Play …

euglena2The other day I blogged about the light-bulbs-growing-on-grass-thing. Inspiration, getting the growth going and all. Then I had the day from Hades — personal flubs, everything from losing my debit card to a momentary lapse of memory to indigestion. I wondered how I would ever live up to the growing thing. The writing thing. The inspiration thing.

Then I found my little notebook that had the plot line of my second novel scribbled in multi colors.  It’s like someone really did turn the light bulbs on the grass on. A plot! A direction! Ideas! I remember looking fondly, wistfully, at the little 3 x 5 thing, not really interested in my character’s continued adventures in Tinaria.  But now — here it was. Waving. Calling. Teasing.

What made this adventure even sweeter, though, was that I overcame my “do not share” mentality and actually asked for advice for my story. I was stuck on a premise I started in my first novel, and had no idea how to manifest an explanation in the second. So I talked to my good friend Cal The Science Guy about colors and blood and time travel. I actually told him about my story idea and asked for a feasible way around my blockage. I was able to get an educated — and fun — opinion about my work and my ideas.

The point of this evening’s conversation is that I learned to share my work. Not hide it. I always wanted to make sure my writing was perfect before I shared it with anyone.  Like, if I didn’t tell them about it ahead of time they would like it better. All the grammar hadt o be perfect; the conversations, the encounters, all had to be smoothly  orchestrated. If I was stuck, so what. I just changed ideas. All because I wanted to “surprise” my reader.

You would think at my age I would know better. The best kept secrets are nothing but secrets. Who cares about the stories you’re not telling anyone? Publication is a a fleeting thought; a dream, possible in some spheres of reality, impossible in others. Winning first place in an art show or  graphic competition just as nebulous. What matters is NOT keeping these things a secret. No matter if you are a painter, a jewelry maker, or a writer. If you are stuck, ask someone. It’s not like they’re going to take your idea, or laugh at your idea, or tell everyone your idea.

We all get stuck in life. Some landmines can’t be helped. It’s life. But not sharing your stories, your poems, your creativity because you are afraid someone might not like it? Pfffttt….what does that matter? Did you like making that necklace? Did you enjoy stenciling that room? That’s what it’s all about. Need a little boost, a little clarification? Don’t be afraid to share your creation with someone. Everyone needs help now and then. I mean, even Van Gogh painted side by side with Gauguin.

OK, Cal…about this alien/time travel/gladiator  thing….