Lately I've been feeling bored because all I've been making are flowers-- and I'm not even a girly-flower-wearing person. They're all made-to-order stuff made in different color schemes as my previous works and that just takes away the fun in making things. It's like running on auto-pilot, which is nice sometimes when you don't want to think about what you're doing, but I miss kinda miss the giddy feeling that makes my hands shake. Sure, these flowers brought attention to my page and what I do. I got some mileage from them especially when my lockets were featured in The polymer arts (right next to a piece by once of my all time favorite artists Kathleen Dustin. Color me STARSTRUCK!), and then I had several people asking me to make a tutorial about my flowers. I was a good ride, but you know what they say about good things.
I even took a pottery class (a future post, maybe?) thinking it might turn on a magic switch in my brain and make me create like crazy in the studio. It didn't. It gave me a few ideas though and those Saturdays were fun and relaxing, but nothing jumped at me and told me: "You HAVE to make this with polymer clay!!" So while it was fun and while I was able to make some cool stuff I'm excited to use once they finish firing, I'm still stuck at a crossroads with polymer clay.
So after a couple several weeks of just moping and hoping I would just bump into my old friend Inspiration while lying on the couch binging on chips and The Walking Dead, I decided to tackle that guild challenge I had coming up. I knew I've always wanted to try using power tools with clay, and I had one lying around just begging to be used, and I wanted to try paper cutting but with clay.. so I got of my butt and moseyed down to my table. I was genuinely excited, to be honest. I had my mask and my goggles/old pair of glasses and a cloth to cover my work area. I even posted a photo on my page just because I felt silly and even before I started I was having so much fun already.
Funny thing, though. When I posted this, a lot of people began commenting that I was going to create another masterpiece or that I must be up to something so out-of-this-world complicated and that they can't wait to see it. Well, first of all thank you for the ginormous boost to my confidence, but I must say that really put the pressure on me. I didn't even know what I was going to make, I just wanted to post a little BTS action. So there I was.. maybe I just got carried away and maybe set myself up for this because I made people expect something I wasn't ready to offer. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
What happened next was a series of events that (i'm being honest here, i'm not trying to reason my way out) that just left me with a few hours to finish this "masterpiece". It was a Saturday so I had my pottery class in the afternoon. Puppy duties in the am and we had to pick up my brother from school at around 5, picked up my parents afterwards did a grocery run and when i got home it was almost 8 pm and the puppies were begging to be let out. By the time I sat in front of my table it was close to 9 and the 12mn deadline slowly ticking its way closer. It was kreyzee! but I finished it, sort of, but I wasn't happy. At all. It failed soo many times. I made multiple mistakes because I wasn't thinking. I wasn't thinking because i didn't have enough time. I didn't have enough time because well.. I was too busy watching the Walking Dead. So perhaps this is a good time to say: Stop cramming! lol
Kidding aside, the point I want to make is this: It's not about getting your head out of the creative black hole, or creating a masterpiece. It's making something that makes your heart race and your hands shake while holding a buzzing power tool. It's smiling like a silly goose while covered in dust. It's going for something that pushes you to be brave and not care about results. It's okay to make mistakes because that's when you really learn. You don't learn anything when you approach something with surety because then your mind is set. If we want to learn and grow, we must make room for the boo-boo's and oh, shit's ;)
An artist friend recently told me about a thread she read online which, in a nutshell, said that unlike other crafters, polymer clay artists are madamot in sharing their techniques. There were some good points raised on that thread and I wish I was a member of that group so I could have participated in the discussion, but since I'm not I'm having my say here. Share your thoughts in the comments below.. i don't bite :)
People who know me know that when I began working with polymer clay it was at a time when the Internet was still a magical place few men have gone. We had a computer but what it really was was an electronic typewriter (remember DOS?). Craft books, tools and supplies were hard to come by unless you had generous and thoughtful relatives abroad. Forget about e-books. What I had was a bag of clay samples, a little slip of paper with baking instructions, my hands, my imagination and my eagerness to learn. This makes me sound so old, but I did start roughly 20 years ago.
I began making gifts for my friends and my family. Selling my work was far from my mind. The happiness I found in making things with my hands and giving them away was good enough for me. As you get older, however, you begin to entertain the romantic ideology of selling your art and living off the profits and becoming a full-fledged artist like the painters and sculptors of yore. And so you gather your courage and jump into the entrepreneurial pool. When you do, you realize that, Hey, it's not so bad! And there's a market for it, too. So you start to create your brand, your image, and you slowly, slowly discover and develop your own definitive style. Eventually people start to take notice and after a few scary months you realize you're actually making a profit and not just breaking even. Huh. Who knew, right?
Now, after all that, imagine a friend telling you she just saw your work being copied by another crafter, marketing it as their own. How does that make you feel, honestly?
I don't think it's about the unwillingness to share but rather a desire to protect what you've worked hard to create. I gladly share tips with beginners and enthusiasts, but ask me how I make my pc flowers and you'll probably just get a sheepish grin from me. I hear complaints about clayists being madamot, you should hear me rant about unethical crafters. What you're asking from them, from US, is not just a simple technique, it's months or even years of experimentation and brainstorming. That's why there are trade secrets. If everyone just gave away free information we'd all be too lazy to think for ourselves and everything we make will end up looking like mass produced horrors. I happen to like looking at other artists works and wonder how they thought of making that particular piece, and that thought, that little spark of inspiration inevitably spurs me to try to better my own work and maybe in the process I might end up making something mind-blowing. I don't think ingenuity ever came out of just copying someone else's work. That's mimicry, not artistry. I understand if people try to copy someone else's work, after all isn't that the highest form of flattery? I did it before and I still do it now to get a feel for the technique, to free my mind and to see if I can incorporate it into my own style. However, selling it and passing it off as my own is a definite no-no.
I understand how overwhelming it is for beginners to be faced with deciding which tools to buy, what clay to use, or what books to read. That's where workshops come in. Workshops are not money-making ploys, especially if you take them under reputable clayists who've been around for a long time. Here's a tip: If you want to attend a good workshop where you'll go home with your head swimming with ideas, don't expect pay cheap --unless you're friends with the artist, then she might be nice enough to give you a discount :) If you're interested in learning about polymer clay but are unsure if it's the right fit for you, get lost on the Internet. There's a ton of free information and tutorials there for anyone willing to learn.
There's also something to be said about the kind of people you share your secrets to. There are people who appreciate and respect the hard work behind each piece, and then there are the unscrupulous few who don't. Respect is a factor of course. The lack of which only opens the door to intrigue and discord. I've shared quite a few of my secrets but only with people I know and trust will take care of that bit of knowledge and use it well. I've made the mistake of being too open-handed with what I know so now I know better. Maybe that's it. It's choosing who you share your little tricks of the trade with. It may sound elitist, but the illusion that we are not so generous with what we know stems from a certain sense of self-preservation. We only share with the few people we know are, first and foremost, artists. I can tell you right now, in our group you can ask anything and you'll get tons of tips you wouldn't even know where to start. If you think the PC world is an immature bunch, I'd say you probably don't know us. Yes we may sound like a cartload of chimpanzees when we have events because of the boisterous laughter (maybe that's what makes us seem immature or perhaps intimidating?) but the heart of each and everyone is exactly where it should be.
Just a short post today since I should really be finishing everything for the sale tonight. Here are a few of the things that will be included, a link to a quaint little playlist of songs used in a cooking show I just recently discovered ( I love it so so much!) and an interesting article on the seriously labor-intensive process that the Japanese grow -and sometimes brand- their apples! Amazing!
Hi! How long has it been since my last post? I know, I promised to be a good girl and update my blog more often, but it's really been scorching here. During the day I can't make myself sit in front of the computer and type. Come to think of it, I find it hard to even think. And at night it feels so sticky and stuffy that I want to shower, and after I shower I get this uncontrollable urge to lie down and sleep, lol
Anyway, I made 3 more magnets end of last month, and i threw in some new yummy letters to the mix.
The "i" I made to look like our native tsokolate. They look a lot like hockey pucks, really, and the way you use it is you put it in really hot water or milk and stir until melts and then you drink it. It has a sandy, gritty texture which is characteristic of this drink, and it goes really really really great with ensaymada, a local bread (with a spanish influence maybe?) with butter and cheese on top. Churros would probably be good too.
I also added a tart in place of the "l", watermelons and ice buko which is basically a popsicle, but coconut and milk based. The ones I had growing up had strips of fresh coconut meat and red mongo beans on top.
For this magnet I used leche (milk)flan for the "f", and kwek-kwek (hard boiled eggs dipped in an orange colored batter then deep fried; usually served with vinegar or a sweet sauce). For the "i", I made lumpiang sariwa. Lumpia is liketo a burrito, I guess, I'm using "like" loosely here because but the wrapper isn't actually a tortilla since it's more like a crepe than it is a bread. Okay scratch, a lumpia is similar to a crepe, and this Filipino crepe has fresh (sasriwa) vegetables inside like carrots and lettuce garlic, peanuts AND bamboo shoots all uniformly and thinly sliced. It's usually served with a sweet sauce and sprinkled with chopped peanuts. The "ube halaya for the second "i" is a pasty concoction made from purple yams mixed with coconut milk, butter/margarine and condensed milk, cooked until it gets smooth and thick. Some people (ie me) eat it as is, but is is also a key ingredient in halo-halo, another sweet Pinoy heat-buster.
For the "p" I made Pastillas--a sweet treat made with milk and rolled in sugar. The ensaymada, that goes well with the tsokolate steps in for the third "i" and an iced gem in place of the "o". All this time I thought Iced gems were a Filipino innovation, but a search through Google told me it's actually known all over the world. I think it's cool.
I thoroughly enjoyed making these magnets even if they were painstakingly detailed. I frequently changed the letters, mixed them up and made new ones just because I didn't like the way they looked together. I had a lot of misses to with some of the foods i wanted to include, like kiping and sampaloc, but overall I love how the textures turned out.
That made me hungry :) What foods from your childhood do you love best?