Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Creative Musings: HierARTchy: Letter to an Amateur

Dear Amateur,
So, by now I'm sure you're standing in the book section of Barnes and Noble flipping through pages of design books, thinking..."What have I done, I'm hooked?!", consequently you're slowly coming to the realization that you're now going to have to fit "art supplies" in the monthly budget.  Don't worry, again, you're not alone, and believe you me if there's something that you would rather be hooked on it's creating something amazing with your own hands. In fact, that's kind of the whole problem. You've fallen in love with making, creating, just for the sole purpose of doing it and you're hooked on the feeling of a job well done.  
Here's what I learned from that stage of my climb (one I am not far out of, and am definitely still in in some areas). I hope it helps you a bit with your new addiction craft. :)
First of all, practice makes perfect. I know I told you that when you were a beginner, but now it's a little different. See, by now, you're hitting your stride, you've figured out what your specific love is, you've realized after too many bandaged fingers and burned eyebrows that lampworked beads are not your style and it's okay. But, now you've got to take that thing that you do love to the next level. Think outside the box. Take that technique and try to use it in way that's new or unfamiliar to you. This is how you'll improve on what your currently doing, but this is also how you uncover totally new techniques that will one day become just yours!

My summer-of-brick-stitch turned into my winter-of-brick stitch when I was commissioned to make Christmas presents for some Tide fans.

Secondly, now that you've got that technique down to where you could do it holding a red cape while fending off a bull in a Spanish bull-fighting ring, it's time to experiment with color! This is where Margie Deeb's book came in so handy for me. Her palettes and advice help me to push myself out of my comfort zone of matchy matchy color palettes (see samples below) into something with more depth and movement. This is what sets the Masters apart, their ability to seamlessly incorporate 7 or 8 colors into one creation while still keeping the continuity and flow. This is something I still strive for everyday when I start a new project.

 Brick-stitched pendant in wonderful slightly monotone natural colors. It's kinda wonky, can't you tell?

Third, get some support! Even if you don't have a "bead community" in your area, start stalking following some of your favorite artists on the internet. Get involved with Bead Swaps (yes, that needs capital letters). It's a great way to exchange some of your stash you're not using anymore. You'll meet some great beaders who will be more than willing to nudge you along in what you're doing, or come dig you out when you've buried yourself in mountain of beads, chain, and um...beads.

 Really? I don't know why I thought I needed ANOTHER brick stitched pendant in natural tones?!

Finally, don't stop experimenting and enjoying what you're doing. Even though you've really gotten into a groove with what you want to do, don't let that be the end all. Carve out a little time to just play around with your materials and techniques to see what you can create. I promise you'll learn a lot about how you create and you'll discover new techniques. After all, this is the fun part of what you're doing. Doing it just because it's enjoyable is the reason you signed on in the first place. Don't forget that.  

Of course, if there's a Tide fan, there must be an Auburn fan!

This is the stepping off point for so much more. Everyone who ever began doing something started it because they loved it. It was only after discovering how much they loved it, and wanted to share it with others that they started to really do so.
That's where an artist steps from amateur to professional. But, we'll deal with that later, for now, just enjoy what you're doing. It's getting close to Christmas, and there's nothing like watching a friend or family member open their present to see something that you made with your own hands.
Yep, I did. :)


  1. Oh Marcie I love this series! You so nailed where I am right now!

  2. Er, what's Tide and Auburn? I must confess, when you said Tide I thought 'the detergent?'

    Great article.