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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Week to Break Your Creative Block, Stress Dreams, Twitter's Redesign, Wearable Business Cards, and the New Square Card Reader

TWITTER REDESIGN (well, your profile anyway)

Some say it’s starting to look more like Facebook. 

Not everyone can see the changes, but by the end of the month they say the new format will be rolled out to everyone.


Do you have recurring dream themes?  I do… and they’ve changed throughout my life.

Supposedly the one where I’m back in school (college, usually… which is funny since I didn’t go to college) and I can’t find my class.  Ugh!  It’s so stressful.  I know I’m going to be late and/or I haven’t done my homework.  Blah! 

To me, stress is stress.  Yeah, I realize “dreams aren’t real”, but does that matter if the stress is still real?

Apparently this is the same theme as being late to catch a flight.  Guess what… another recurring theme of mine. 

Here’s the surprising (not!) part… perfectionists tend to have dreams of “unpreparedness” (both the above mentioned examples).  One article stated that one explanation for these dreams is “… you may be tying your self-worth too tightly to how you perform at work.”   Ha ha ha!  Yeah, that could NEVER apply to artists.  ;-)

When I was working in the corporate world, I used to have recurring dreams where I was on out of control elevators.  So yeah… me not being in control of my direction.  Didn’t need a book to tell me what that meant. 


Do you use Square?  If so, I hope you know you’ve got to get the updated card reader eventually.


Ran into this blog post the other day and thought I’d pass it along.  This is a really cool idea and kudos for the author for passing along the instructions for everyone to see.


If you don’t feel creative today, sort your beads, clean your workshop, or rearrange your books. 

But on day two, sit down and sketch.  It doesn’t have to be something you’re going to end up making… just sketch.  Doodle, zentangle, anything.  Write words if they come to your mind, too.  None of this has to be jewelry design related.  You’re just practicing the relationship between your hand, your pencil, and your paper.   Your brain doesn’t have to be overly involved.  Today should be about fun, not work.

On day three, relax.  But didn’t we just do that?  Grab some of your favorite craft or technique books and read.  Just look at the photos and see how you feel about them.   Keep a sketch book by your side and when trust me, the ideas will come.  You will see things or read things that will inspire you.  Whether it’s an actual design you can sketch out or just a note that starts out with “what if”.  

A couple of my favorite books when I need to take a brain break:

  • Landmarks of the World’s Art: Prehistoric and Primitive Man (by Andreas Lommel)
  • Jewellery: The Intelligent Layman's Book (by Jack Ogden)
  • Narrative Art (edited by Hess and Ashbery)


On day four, realize that being creative doesn’t always mean you have to be wildly innovative or ground-breaking.  That kind of thinking can stop a designer cold in their tracks.  Frozen with fear.  Stop.  Take a step back and do some rote technique all day long.  Set up your soldering station and fuse some silver rings… over and over… make necklace after necklace.  By the end of the day, your fusing or soldering skills should be wildly better than they were in the morning.   Remember “wax on, wax off”?  That’s what we’re doing.  You can also do wire-wraps or torch some beads or do some chain maille or simple enameling… anything that needs a bit if improvement in your skill-set, but nothing that’s so complicated that it will be a big stress for you.

On all of these days, set a timer to limit your time on the computer.  Social media can be fantastic for our jewelry business, but in the wrong hands (or for the wrong reasons) it can also be a huge time vacuum, sucking up hours and hours of potentially creative design time.

On day five, shake up your routine.  Take the day off and go exploring.  Drive on a road you’ve never driven on before.  Go to a park and hike where you’ve never been before.  A museum, a zoo, a bike trail… any place you’ve never been before.  If you’re really brave, talk to strangers too.  Just be in the moment and notice what’s around you.  You want to fill your senses with new experience.  Let your brain know it’s not in a rut.

Also, I think one of the most important things you can do is keep a notebook with you at all times.  Write down all those ideas that you’re SURE you’ll remember.  ‘Cause you know what?  We don’t.  We don’t remember lines we saw that made us think of a necklace design or the color combination on that tv ad that made us think of a bead idea.  Write down everything.  And then when you think you have no creative ideas, go to your notebook and remind yourself about all these wonderful things you thought of and can now do.

On day six, search the internet and download a project/tutorial that looks interesting.  Make sure you have the materials on-hand and then go at it.  Don’t download one that you won’t be able to do that same day.  Sometimes following someone else’s instructions takes a load of pressure off of us and gives our brains the time to relax and begin thinking again of ideas for us.

On day seven, commit to blogging on a regular basis.  Pick a project and just start babbling about it (with photos!).  Other jewelry makers love to read about what we’re all up to.  We want to see how it’s done and what you tried and what worked for you and what didn’t work for you.  One of my most popular blog posts is about the day that I tried to learn how to fuse fine silver.  There are tons of videos and tutorials online from people who already knew what they were doing, but a lot of people really enjoy seeing it through the eyes of the explorer.  And sometimes the explorer shares something that a master might not think to mention. 

So that’s one week where you don’t have to agonize over your creative block.  And hopefully, something in that week will spark your ignition.

Will this jumpstart week work for everyone?  I should think not since we’re all wired differently.  But you never know until you try.

Report back here.  I’d love to hear how things went for you.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Should You Encourage An Artist, The SRAJD Jewelry Design Challenges, Salvaging a Design Error, and The EtsyMetal Charm Swap Bracelet

Follow Up to Encouraging Artists to Feel Good About Their Work

One of my last blog posts was encouraging and all about feeling confident and whatnot.  But here’s the flip side.

Many years ago I heard a story, one of those motivational things.  But this one resonated with me for some reason and I’ve called it into play on more than one occasion.  I am now going to do my usual job of butchering my paraphrased version of it because I have no idea where the story originated and I only have my memory to go off of.

So there was this student of the violin and he played at a recital one day.  Afterward, he met a violin maestro (is that what they’re called?).  The young violinist asked the master for his opinion of the performance.

“Do I have what it takes to be a professional violinist someday?” he asked the master.

The master looked at him and said, “I’m sorry, son, you don’t.”

The young violinist left and the master’s friend came up to him and said, “That young boy was brilliant.  He has amazing talent.  Why did you tell him he doesn’t have what it takes?”

“Because”, answer the master, “If he has what it takes to be great, he will not care about my opinion.  He will continue to do what he loves and become a master at it.  If he lets my opinion of his talent change the course of his life, he is not passionate enough to become a master in the first place.”

While I don’t agree with everything this story represents, I do get the point of it and ponder on it occasionally.

There’s something to be said for the person who can put his head down and forge ahead without needing the encouragement of others. 

SRAJD Jewelry Challenges
If you want to see some cool jewelry designs check out the weekly jewelry design challenges of the SRAJD members.  On the SRAJD blog, every Friday, we’re posting the entries for the weekly design challenges. 

March’s theme was “geometric” and the weeks were:

And here are a few random photos from the first month with the theme of "geometric" jewelry design...

April’s theme is the elements.

Etsy Metal Charm Swap Bracelet

Last year I took part in EtsyMetal's charm swap. 19 members of EtsyMetal all make 21 identical charms and every member gets one charm from every other member, then the 2 leftover go into the EtsyMetal shop (one to be sold along, the other to be added to the Charm Swap bracelet). Awhile ago I showed you the charm I made for the swap, but the bracelet just got listed recently and I'd love to share it with you.

And just this week I’m mailing off my group of charms again for swap #13.  Will show you a pic of my charm after I have it photographed.

This is NOT What I Had Planned

I was trying to finally work on making signatures for my work.  So my idea was to etch the logo into copper then I could use that as a mold template for the metal clay.
So I make the thing and didn't realize until I was all finish that it's great to remember to "flip" your image when you're etching onto copper... if you're end product is the copper.  Ha ha ha!  Yep, I remembered to flip my image.  What I hadn't taken into consideration, however, was that by pressing my metal clay into the copper, I was then reversing the direction again.  D'oh!

So I turned lemons into lemonade by giving the logo template a patina, then cutting out the tiny rectangles and punching a hole in the corner.  Now this wasted project can be used as hang tags.

Back to the drawing board with making my metal clay template though.

My Recent Jewelry

Here’s a piece I made at Hadar’s workshop.  It’s reverse construction.  I like the idea and want to explore the technique more in the future.

Same thing with this… reverse construction.