Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Taweret and the Lure of Egyptian Art in My World

One of the reasons I love revisiting the origins of creative aspects in my life is that, over time, they can take on different forms and meanings. They reveal themselves slowly across the years, even disappearing on occasion only to comeback strong somewhere down the line.

They are always evolving and unwinding. 
They are the threads. 

At the same time, I do not want to lose my grasp on where they began as I truly feel those beginnings are always important and never pass into a state of irrelevance.

While it is always easy to say that Ancient Egyptian art has been something I have been deeply drawn to since I was 6 or 7, it is also true that, over time, the meaning of that has grown with me.

The pieces I have been creating these last four years have been allowing me to explore new avenues for their reasons of existence in my life. Always allowing me to deepen that connection and revisit those wonderful days of ancient history/discovery from my youth.

So, when I create a piece like the Taweret statue below, I am reminded that this link is now close to forty years old. From the first time I saw Her portrayed on tomb carvings and artifacts I was smitten. Some of it was the way my young imagination tried to grasp that this animal, the hippopotamus, was truly a part of Egyptian life. . . not something just seen in a magazine or in an urban zoo. I'd think to my young self, "Yes, I'd have made a statue honoring them too!!"

Sheis magnificent and what I love most is the way ancient artists captured her shape, her toothy grin and her delicate legs.

Taweret: Patron of Childbirth and Protector of Women and Children

Now, when I create a piece like this of Taweret, I am always aware of the connection to those early days when I felt that my drawings of Egyptian deities were protecting me somehow.  So much so that I drew them on the tops of my feet whenever I felt the need for extra "help".  Anubis, Bast, Horus, Sekhmet and Djehuty were all a part of my childhood circle of guardians. . . . but seriously, if you have to pick an animal to "protect" you. . . isn't the hippo going to be at the top of the list due to sheer size alone?? : )

I feel so completely honored that, in recreating these pieces today, I am able to send them off all over the world for others to honor in their own way and for their own personal reasons.  It feels as a service is truly being done in their creation and that each one is part of the growing understanding I have of their place in my life today.

What never changes is, at my core, they are all protectors of my dreams, my creative path and my life.  It's why they always have a place on my work table and by my bedside. The magic I found in them all those years ago is just as strong today. Except now I make them out of clay and not tin foil and paper as I did as a young boy. lol

Hope you enjoy seeing Her. :)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Long and Short Of It All - Edition #1

One of the things about my way of creating that gets wonky sometimes is:

I have a longstanding habit, when choosing the "What next?" from my list of ideas, to go with the smaller, most immediately rewarding ideas. Often this is at the expense of moving forward the larger, more complex ideas that I really want to bring to a completion but that I can't seem to keep moving forward on as time allows. Instead, always seeming to choose the quick idea, or a multitude of them as it often goes, to "finish something".

Nowhere is this more relevant that my 2014 To-Do list and I am resolved to do something about it! 

So first, why is that an issue? I make oodles of fun creations that actually move through my shops very well. They make me infinitely happy to create them and I always find time to write a bit of a story to go along with almost each one. . . couple that with an ever growing list of requests and custom pieces and the time left to work on the larger stories and idea is already at a minimum. 

But those ideas haunt me as they are always the thing I most want to do every day.

Internally those larger. story based projects are the direct reflection of everything I loved about my childhood and want to re-embrace into the fold of mid adulthood and beyond. They are the lifeline from that era, the link in time to all I am and all I do.

They are my "Tardis" through time and space that take me back to the most wonderful and,  yes, sometimes less wonderful of those years too.

And ohhhhh I am a time traveler above all else. . . 

I am hoping, that by sharing the ideas here in a series of posts of their progress and intent,  the visual reminder of them each time I come to my blog will remind me that they are waiting for me to grow them into full reality.And with each large project I will also post a small, quick idea that came to fruition too. :)

So then

The LONG of It:

The Noble Ice Elves of Spangladasha:

Started this massive idea at the beginning of the year and it is only in the last 4 weeks that it sort of fell off the radar a bit. The little guy below, Fenewen, was the first to appear here. He toldme his story and I was beyond hooked. . . T

he idea is to create a total of 50 Noble Ice Elves ( not all at once mind you) and send each one, as it is adopted, off into the world with an atlas/maps of their land, Spangladasha, and scrolls that tell the story of the elves journey to our world and their purpose here and beyond.

The very-large of the idea is to send quarterly updates to each person as the elves are adopted letting them know the general location of other elves across the globe (by city/country only) and continuing the story through mailings of scrolls, symbols, etc etc as well as updating the Etsy listing with the story as it progresses as new elves appear.  So even I will not know exactly where it is going until it gets there.

I LOVE his furry compact body, the crown of polymer clay bones and his "petrified" driftwood power source with it's "ice crystal" attached!! And the ever growing map of the land he and his kind hail from:

Spangladasha - Realm of the Noble Ice Elves

Soooo much more to do obviously. Scrolls, books, wax seals, printing the maps, special packaging etc etc. The Noble Ice Elf story is about 5 pages now. That's about as long as I want it so I'll have a years worth of updates already in the bag. I just need to rewrite, edit and re-edit. 

Hoping to have 6 or so of these guys ready for Fall release! 

And that, my dear friends, is just ONE of the large ideas brewing in this brain lately. :)

The SHORT of it:

The Shen Amulet

So, the Egyptian pieces in Shadow of the Sphinx are a direct link to my early creative worlds  I imagined myself often in that time, often as a simple scribe or lay-person working for a Pharaoh. It was a far broader role to me than to rule all of Egypt. lol

The endless list of ancient pieces I have to inspire me has allowed me to continually experience a new thrill when working on these amulets and statues. And often, the ideas allow me to create quickly as with the Shen amulet below.  There must be hundreds of iterations of this one amulet/symbol alone.  So the inspirational source is endless.

Shen Symbol - Polymer Clay Amulet with Bronze Patina Finish

Trouble is I often get caught up in the fun of making smaller things and just let the larger ideas sit a bit too long. . . but then again, Fenewen is always on my work table and he won't be patient for long I suspect. . .

Wishing you all a creative and magical day!

Soon again. . .


Sunday, March 9, 2014

Do What You Want, Be What you Are

So I want to begin sharing more of the day to day process and inner workings of being a full time maker-of -things.  Let me start by sharing a little picture with you.

This is my studio work table on a random morning taken about a week or so back. Now, the funny thing about this picture is, I almost did not use it for this blog because, as I looked at it, I thought "Oh that's too neat. . . it looks staged." I'll pause while those of you with a neater bent to their organization and creative work spaces gasp and shudder at the thought. : )

In actuality, all I removed from the scene were paint rags and some scraps of notes that were not relevant. The rest, as seen, is pretty much how my work table looks. . . on a good day.

That little clear space on the front/right table, on the clay mat, that is where I make almost everything in my shops. All the rest are the parts of projects that are going on right now, things drying, things waiting for their day in the photoshoot sun, things in progress etc etc. This is the eye of the storm I suppose you could say. . . because it is always a clam and workable space to me. And, in the chaos, it all makes sense.

The point of this simple little post is this:

Too often I think we unlearn things that were simply inherent to us because our "teachers" believed their way to be better.  In the end, as we grow up, we fight our natural tendencies because we may have been taught that they were not good ways to be. Nowhere is this more destructive than in the creative realm.

In my world, that "teaching" was an endless string of contradicting statements that for years kept me from being the wonderful mess-maker that I am.

Family "teachers" said:
"When you are done (playing) put everything away! It's a mess!"

Except so many of my "games" were paracosms and ongoing worlds that didn't end when I had to stop playing for dinner, sleep or some other such nonsense. . . . They went on without me so how could I just pack them all away? How could I slip back into them seamlessly if they were neatly stacked in a closet or forced under the bed?

Art teachers in school said:

"Focus on one idea or technique. Don't try to do it all. Finish the project you've started. Perect what you are doing"

Except that I never was a one thing at a time person.
Not in reading books ( I have 5 going right now)
Not in traveling. The first time I went to Europe I looked at the map of the continent and said, "Right, 17 days and I'm going to 14 countries! (umm that did not work out once I hit France. . .  and so I DO learn you see!)
Certainly not in creative projects, which, I believe, tell ME when they are ready to be finished and not vice versa. So some sit for days. Weeks. Even months till the finish is apparent to me. 

In my first "career" of the culinary arts, I was taught by the chefs I worked for:
"Don't try to do too many things, just pick a cuisine and master it." (So, needless to say, I fell into the Fusion/cross cultural cuisine trend of the 90's with all my heart and soul!)

Oh the list goes on and on. . .

It took me years to learn that I have this pattern of creative chaos and that it works perfectly for me. 
Let every idea come forth.
Jump at making whatever makes me happiest
Figure the rest out as I go along.

That's being me.  That's who I am. Yet I spent a great deal of my early adult life trying to "do it the right way" by what I had been taught was best.

And while I had to do some work to learn how to make this authentic, natural me into a workable model that could make a viable living, it really only came together when I finally sloughed all that old, repetitive programming off and let myself be the creative soul I was born as. . . working with, instead of against, myself.

That's what allowed this to now grow into a full time occupation that suits me perfectly.

The interesting twist to the story is this. For all the "creative" mess one may see in my life, in my daily way of being a maker-of-things, let me tell you where my life has no mess and jumble.

Basically that would be in every other department.

There are few people who get my time, few outside distractions are ever allowed in, I make very few obligations/commitments and selectively extend myself and there are just very few things I feel compelled to do other than create. I have not heard my phone ring in four years and, like the old days, only return calls at the end of the work day when done. I moved to a place where I can walk to almost everything I need (including places in nature where I can be alone) each day.

That too was something of old programming that I had to break.  We are told to "do one thing" when it comes to work, art, careers, interests or anything we want to "achieve". . . but then we are told a well rounded life includes all that excess which pulls us in 20 directions at once.

How many people I have known that felt that a well rounded life was about having all THOSE diverse interests filling up their schedule and making the hours something to be counted and rationed?

How many people have I listened to as they lament not having the time to do the things they really love while constantly rushing off to yet another engagement or obligation?? How many friends have I watched running around frazzled all day long, every day, so caught up in being "busy" and saying it as if being busy were an accomplishment in and of itself?

But I'd swear, if you ask me, busy is a modern synonym for "messy" in regards to living life.
And when I did it, it just made me feel further away from what I most wanted to be doing. 

And so my advice to others, about a creative life, when asked,  is:

Neat or messy, one thing or a whole basket full of ideas, or anywhere in between makes no difference
Do what you want but be . . . what. . . you. . .  are.
And what you are IS inherent. Yes it can be molded and tightened up and tinkered with.
But the core of it is going to be something you always and already were. . .

Because following that path and being just what you are is always going to lead to happiness doing what you most want to do.

So as a word of advice from a mess-maker extraordinaire, messy is cool. . . it's fine to stray and wander and indulge in many wonderful ideas and pursuits. . . just tidy up the REST of life and let the true you rule the creative day.