Second, pardon me while I eat some of my words. Every time I think I can predict my husband's reaction to a situation, he fools me yet again. This morning before he left for work, he asked me if I'd like to replace the cantakerous laptop computer of mine for my birthday. Would I? Of course, I would and THANK YOU :) Let me say this so far, this Acer seems pretty darn nice compared to the troubles that fancy but irritable Toshiba laid upon my head. Note to self and anyone else who tries to fight the urge to splurge when it comes to tools of the trade-- buy what you use, not what makes you drool. It's true, and it's sad that it always takes me time to figure this out. I used to select lots of different colors of glass when I would place an order. Then, I'd look at all the different pretty colors and proceed to melt only the ivory, turquoise, and Nile green. When I ran low on those three, I'd order again. . .completely ignoring the fact that I like to sculpt big and those three colors don't mind having the crap beat out of them in the flame in the process of being formed into those evocative sculptures. Same thing for the laptop, you know? I bought that fancy Toshiba on clearance at Wal-Mart two years ago. While it was a good deal, it still had plenty of features I never used, so I really didn't feel the need to upgrade this morning. If anything, I felt the need to be smart and downgrade to what I'll actually use. Hooboy, already off track in this post! The thing is I've been thinking about this for over a year now-- not the computer in particular, mind you, but the whole notion of learning to only buy things I'll really use. Do I like doodads, even when they are cute? Yep, but like most any other woman with an addiction to melting glass, I've finally been seeing money in terms of how many pounds of glass it will buy, LOL. Hmm, let's see, that pretty doodad that I won't really use is $50. Heck, for $50 I can get almost five pounds of dark ivory glass or a dozen Dremel bits or a box of colored pencils. . . you get the idea. Now, as far as mooching junk scraps and being a packrat, that is not changed by my streamlining of new purchases because I know that I will find a use for those bits and pieces as time passes. Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm building my workshop even though I don't really have the physical space just yet. When we find the right house and I get to move my breezeway "studio" into the new space, things will really start to fall into place workshop-wise.
Oh, bother! Now, I'm really off track! As long as I am, let me add a few sidenotes to that rambling. Deb's card-- click here to go to Hallmark and play one like it. Mallory and Betsy, for no particular reason except that I hope you're getting similar good news, we should have temps in the 40's and 50's for the last part of this week! Hey, Gaffer Girls, I've been thinking I'm going to have to break out of my ivory obsession and try some of that gorgeously intense Gaffer color glass again soon. Look at these color lollipops! This time two years ago, my table at Tucson was right next to Gaffer Glass, and Mona and Hallynd were part of the wonderful people who made that experience so much fun. (Some more of those peeps were McDuck, Carol Saker and her dad, etc.)
Whew. That's a lot of writing, and I never did get to the point of the picture and the title. Let's start again :)
For those of us who feel the need to create things, there often comes a time when we feel as if we are trapped in a routine and not creating fresh work but instead are re-creating the same-old-same-old. "Stepping out of the box" is a popular term for changing your approach to what you do, no matter your occupation or avocation. It's also one of those terms that can be used lightly, over-used, or abused, depending upon the thought you put into a situation. However, it can also be a powerful motivational tool, one that gives you the inspiration and "permission" to do the unusual and the unexpected.
So, what does it really mean, though? How do you do it? How do you even know if you were in a box? What if you happen to like the warmth and comfort of your box? What if all you end up doing is leaving one box and creating another?
I am here to tell you that your definitions of a "box" are going to change as you work and grow. . .and that the answers to the above questions are never going to be the same for any one person on any given day. When I was six months into lampworking and discovered sculpting glass, I thought I was stepping outside of a creative box every day, maybe even every hour that I torched. Now, three years into lampworking, I can see that I was very arrogant in my perception of what is and isn't "out of the box" at that stage in my creative pursuit. Because I was beginning to learn to sculpt, I really could learn a neat new trick almost every time I torched. Eventually, though, I came to a point where all I wanted to create were faces and masks. I thought that must be incredibly boring to watch, so I officially gave up making faces for one month. Talk about stepping outside of your box and then lighting a match and watching it go up in flames, LOL. Was it really necessary to step that far out of my box in order to insert some freshness into my creations? I thought so then, but now I'm not so sure.
For the past year or more, I have been really creatively obsessed with sculpting the female form, with making figures that have movement and personality. Sometimes, I get the feeling that I need to step out of that particular box, but then I look at an older figure in my archives and notice how much "stiffer" or less fluid it is than one I made last week. Sometimes, I make figures and then create an interesting display to accentuate them. Is that me trying to step out of the box, or is that me being distracted by the lure of multi-media when what I really want to do is pare down my sculptures to the essence of humanity? Which is more edgy and out of the box, a plain but elegant naked figure with no real face or arms or a funky diva with headdress and wire coils enveloping her? Which is more powerful? See what I mean?
There's nothing wrong with the funky and fun divas who land on my counter. In fact, I am really proud of many of them. BUT I have to tell you that I am even prouder of the minimalist ones, the simply naked figures with clean lines, the ones bursting with humanity, the ones that have an aura of femininity and power and magic. So, which part of that creative picture is the box and which part is the "outside"? It's not an easy call, is it?
Let this be a reminder when we look at other people's creations. We don't always know where their box is or how big it is or whether it even exists in their minds. Another thing to remember-- give yourself the same respect. Don't just blindly say "I never do anything new." Look at what you do, look at how it has changed, look at where you think it is going, and then decide whether or not you want or need to climb out of any box. If you do, then go for it. If you aren't quite ready to vacate a particular box, then by all means you should stay there and see what else it has to offer you before you abandon it.
P.S. I did the sketch of the fairy last night. Sketching isn't my forte', but I'm doing more of it lately. I think that's a good way to expand my creative abilities, and I think expanding your abilities little by little is a great way to eventually harness even more creative fire when you find yourself at a point where you only want to dig deeper and deeper into one particular box :)