Monday, August 24, 2009

Variations on a theme: blogging in three (and a half) voices

A blog for three readers (and several cats)

And places I just shouldn't go

Thanks, my blogging buddy Liz Crain . This blog's for you.

I've been doing this metal stuff for four years, seems like a lifetime, seems like yesterday. Didn't mean to go anywhere with it. Truly. Or maybe, really, I did, just not here. You see, I love glass, always have, always will. I took some stained glass classes, resisted fusing and stumping (the stuff I'd seen in the magazines was so boring, so primary colored, bleh). Then in rapid succession, I saw a couple of neat things, things that got my mind racing, my heart racing. You mean I can do that with fusing, and slumping. Whoa. Just whoa. One thing led to another but it always does. Community Ed had a fusing class at the time. I took it. I liked it. Really liked it. (Even though, as Jacqui said, she really should have advertised it as Glass Fusing and Sweat Lodge. But none of us cared about how hot, humid and mosquito-filled that first class was. The contact high we got from each other was amazing. Four hours on my feet and I went home refreshed every time.) Santa Fe had a couple of jewelry classes; I'd found that out when I registered for Drawing I. Take a class, I thought, get some ideas about how to think in 3-D, about jewelry design and then move on.

Famous last words.

I picked up a hammer.

You see, the thing is, you can't hit glass with hammers. Not and be really pleased with the results. I haven't fused since (my excuse: Jacqui stopped offering the class but I could rent kiln time at Sky and Sarah's coop. I could even buy my own, so I recognize the excuse for what it is).

In the last year or so, I can see a real difference, a real coming together, a real breakthrough. And I'm amazed. Sometimes the confidence I have in my own work is breathtaking. Yes, I made that, and it is good. And what's more, I can make more, that one thing isn't a fluke, even if I take advantage of any and every happy accident that comes along. I can make more and they will be good, better, best. Mostly, except for a couple, literally two, sketches I did of my sister where I just picked up a pencil and drew her, I stopped doing art 'stuff' when I was in junior high school with one art class in college. Art wasn't for me. That was reserved for other people. In spite of that, or maybe because of it, I have developed an aesthestic, a design sense, a sense of myself as artist and creator. I know what I like and what I don't. I'm not new and green and callow. I'm no longer eighteen. Perhaps even my hesitancy is habit more than a true fear of rejection, more than a true fear that I lack the right to take my place in the company of artists.

I feel less like a beginner, less like a student, an amateur and more like an artist. Like I have something to say and I know how to say it, how I want to say it. Sometimes I'm amazed by the confidence I have in my work, in my right to make that work, to stand up and say, hey, look at this, I made this. But part of me, an important part it turns out, holds back. Though pushed to enter competitions and shows, to get my name out in front of the people who 'judge these things,' I don't do it.

What gets me beyond that entropy? Does continuing to take class at Santa Fe hold me back because as long as do, I'll feel like a student, someone who needs another's permission?

Ideal reader--sounds nice, doesn't it? What does it mean? I haven't a clue. My ideal reader doesn't really exist because my that reader has to morph constantly (how'd that description of Christmases Past go in A Christmas Carol?) At one moment, an old friend not interested in things metallic, just interested in things me and wanting to see what I'm doing and share my joys and tears and all the rest. At another moment, a perfect stranger half a world away who's also a geek for hammers and stakes--oh my god did you see the new mini-stakes from Fretz? Sometimes a metal artist, sometimes an artist in another discipline, sometimes someone who just likes how I write. How do I write for that ideal reader? I haven't a clue. I will have to revisit you, my dear Ideal Reader.

Nicky and Robin (and possibly others) are going to be wrapped into one giant superfriend, for purposes of this blog to be known as Ricky or perhaps Nobbin. Maybe Ricky Nobbin. I've known you for a long time. It's harder, in some ways to bare my soul to you, because you know me more. I talk about these fears and hopes to you, and yet, here and now, I feel naked (and ain't that a scary thought). I'm afraid, and yet I'm not, to take that next step. How much of it is just being in that comfortable non-comfort zone? I'm used to being here, right, I think I'll stay a while. But you know, that old thing about hitting yourself in the head with a hammer, because it feels so good when you stop, even I know it's time to stop, or rather to start. I'm afraid that I'll get my feel-good strokes from you, my attagirls, but not my pushes, won't be called on my bullshit because you don't want to damage our friendship. It's a valid concern, I can be a thin-skinned bitch. But Rikki Nobbin, you get things done, slowly sometimes, but you do them. You make your ornaments for the tree at the Victorian house. Is that the secret, to just pulling on the loose end of the thread until it comes free?

Nicky suggested Bob (hers not mine, meaning my brother Bob and not my cousin Bob). That's Bob the cat. I dunno. I just do not know.

Blogging to cats

See what Mommy has? This brooch I made from a chased wedge t-fold--stop it! stop it! stop it now! No claws! You know Mommy doesn't like claws. Get off the computer. Get off the computer! Don't sit on that! Now! That's a good kitty. Leave that book alone, now. Thank you. Ah, come on, Breck, they're not even paying attention to you. I'm not mad at anybody, everybody's good. Leave that alone! Don't chew that. Do not chew that! We do not eat tape. I said stop scratching that book. Sometimes I really hate cats

A few other blogs--

Mom--no Mom, I don't think I need to lose weight first. What if I never lose weight? Does that mean I don't get to live the rest of my life? What does losing weight have to do with chased wedge t-folds, anyway? You haven't even looked at it.

Museum curator, art critic--really, if you wanted a Calder clone, maybe you should just dig him up. Zombies are in right now. No, I don't want to be more cutting edge, less cutting edge, commercial, academic. Oh, bite me.

Potential collector--no, I don't do work on spec/for commission. I don't know what I'm going to make, what I'm going to get until I make it, get it. I don't want to try to match your dreams and visions. You like what you see, you buy it. Kthanxbai.


Anonymous said...

Re: Your blog to cats--scarily accurate. I have a conversation that's very similar and I don't even have a border collie.

And..I've had the same conversation with my mother. Now I am having it with my sister. I suppose it counts for a tradition if it leaps down a generation? Evil fat people must die! *sigh*.

Finally, my only question--if a collector didn't like what he saw in the first place, why would he approach you for work? Friend-nagging aside (because I can nag for England, or ask questions that later appall me with their inanity) I would have thought that mutual liking of the same thing would be what drew them to you. But I've never made anything saleable so I have no experience.

verthandi said...

Good point re collectors. I guess I'm just leery. I guess it's my take on human nature--oh my god I just love your work, that bracelet is amazing! could you make something like that for me, except instead of the copper, use polymer clay and instead of being freeform and organic, can you make it more formal and stylized and instead of a bracelet, make it a pendant. Because I just love your work.

Liz Crain said...

I picked up a hammer!
I picked up a blogger!

You rock! Deepest thanks for the blog dedication. I am speechless with honor.

I wandered into Ceramics at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos in Spring of 2001 and am still there...helping and schmoozing and never done learning.

BTW, you are NOT directionally challenged...Capitola is just where you left it....just south of Santa Cruz by the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary. I grew up in Saratoga and have worked and lived in Santa Clara, Palo Alto and downtown San Jose (and for all of the 80s in Amador County...) Came to SC just before the '89 Loma Prieta earthquake. Raised my boys, discovered ceramics and even tho I have sidetracked (never into Small Metals, though...) am making and lovin' me some art all the time.

So glad to have met you here!