Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Be Kind to Your Muse

This past week I was madly scrambling to get two designs done for a magazine deadline. This was the first time I was going it alone to submit my work to a major beading venue and the necklaces had to be at the FedEx pickup box by Monday afternoon at 5:00 pm. Everything was going wrong—first, the US Postal Service “missent”(their official term for “lost”) my 2nd day air package, so I was lacking the supplies I needed to finish. The design that looked so good on paper failed dismally when it was translated into three dimensions. A technical problem was stymieing all attempts to make my seedbead strands hang properly. Design Hell! No time to step back and think about my poor pieces overnight—no time to tweak, re-do, enhance, embellish. "They're good enough" I had to say -- "just get 'em in the mail!"

Some lessons you can't learn too many times--“Be kind to your Muse” is one of these.

No matter what kind of urgent and immovable deadlines you may have, bludgeoning your poor Muse doesn't work! Ever! I thought I had learned that back in college, when I'd have a really great idea for a paper and then wait until the last bloody minute to write it. All-nighters never quite produce the result when you have to force your creativity to meet your deadline.

Polymer Clay Daily posted a quote by Tory Hughes a few days ago-- here's the part that applies: “Playing and creating are very close together.” To play is to dance with your Muse. Dragging your Muse onto the dance floor leads to effort and struggle and ultimately--failure. I don't mean to say that you should give up if an idea isn't working--keep on trying but give yourself time and be open to a different way of doing it. When I was a potter, the phrase going around the studio at school was “Let the clay tell you what it wants to be”. Let your Muse tell you if she wants to tango or to waltz. Or to sit this one out. Go ahead and push your materials in new directions and to new ideas but also let them show you the way.

Along the same lines, making do with less or other than what you intended to use can turn design dross into gold. When I designed mostly in fiber, I used this forced creativity principal all the time. I would find expensive or vintage materials, piece them into garments with less costly fabrics and come out with a much more creative and interesting result. But be warned--one very important factor in the successful application of this principal of being more creative with less is TIME. You can't rush this, you can't be doing your project last-minute or the stress factor is off the charts! Be kind to yourself AND to your Muse. You just can't rush good design! Let me say this again-- good design takes time! I have learned this the hard way and just lately in the above-mentioned projects.

In the end, the deadline passed and I decided that the pieces weren't up to my standard. Instead, I played with them some more and the Muse rewarded me with gold. I've submitted them elsewhere and I'll keep you posted on their progress. No matter what happens, I'm proud of my work now that my Muse and I are in step once again.

Here are a few pieces that happened when I just let myself play. Thanks to Lorri Scott for her fabulous fibers!

Lascaux Necklace

Kalahari Necklace


  1. Oh Miss Christine! We must be cut from the same cloth...and I think that you are not alone in this application of the Muse dance! I have been reading all over the blogdom about correlated issues....I am writing something similar myself. I so agree with you about the time thing...I overestimate my abilities time and time again. Not that I can do it, but that I can do it in the miniscule amount of time that I have to complete said art. That is when it becomes work and work is no fun at all! So play on with your Muse and let her take the lead in the dancing. Sometimes it is a whirling dervish and sometimes a slow waltz, but it always takes time. Thank you for your inspiration today, my friend. I look forward to seeing where your work will pop up next.

    Enjoy the day!

  2. Christine
    I've enjoyed this post. I've been quickly learning a lot from you. What you have said is so true...that you just can't force things or rush them. We've all been there where you were on Monday facing that deadline. Time is such a critical factor as you point out. I'm looking forward to following along with your latest project and crossing my fingers for you that it works out! Your new pieces are stunning...all of the components work so well together!

  3. Just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE these beads ... and of course your creations! The colors are some of my favorites!

  4. These are beautiful as always Cristine! Your muse post is so true, and we all know it! I have actually become very disciplined at doing magazine submissions, and challenges, and if I decide to do it, I make sure I only do it if it feels right and I give myself ample time, but of course I got to this point for some hard experience, and it only took about 45 years...not bad , huh?!

  5. Here's to playing! Lovely pieces, Christine...