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28 October 2010

30 Words::Breaking Out of My Shell


{Absolutely haunting and stunning photography by The Understory on Etsy}

recognizing
it takes courage to
bust
the
shell
holding me back
i
must tap my way out
for i am
ready to fly
no doubt i am
breaking
free

…..slowly…..

27 October 2010

Gifts of Character::Trustworthiness

{Trust wall hanging by MudGoddess on Etsy}

"To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved." ~George MacDonald

All the television ads and postcards in my mailbox of late all scream at me that someone is less worthy of my trust than another.

I am not a political person, but this year it seems that trust is the key component to a lot of the negative spewings I have seen.

We can't trust this person with our health care system. We can't trust that person with job creation. This person associates with someone who is not trusted. That person says one thing and does another.

It all comes down to trust.

Since I was a child I have always said that I don't make promises that I can't keep. That is a pretty good policy even today. If I say I am going to do something, you can bet that I will. And if you give me a deadline, you can be sure that it will be done on time. And if it can't, I will let you know that.

This is a good thing in the position that I am in to make my own business and be my own boss someday. Building that trust with customers is at the core of my success.

Exactly how do we gain trust in each other? When you first meet someone, is there a lack of trust, or blind trust? Do you need to earn trust or is it something that we assume we have with one another until we do that which breaks a trust?

From the Virtue Card::Trustworthiness

Trustworthiness is being worthy of the trust others place in us. When we give our word, we stand by it. Others can rely on us with confidence. We demonstrate by our actions that we keep our promises and commitments. There is constancy in the way we love and loyalty in the bonds of our friendships. Trustworthiness is the foundation of our business agreements and our personal covenants. When we are worthy of trust, we attract abundance. We create lasting success.


I like the last part the best. Abundance and prosperity follow those who gain a trust. Not a false trust, like some cosmic Ponzi scheme. Because there are those who would tell you anything you want to hear in order to gain a temporary trust {picture all those nauseating TV and postcard ads...I don't care if they are the candidate that I am vying for or not. Sick. Of. Them. All.}, in order to get what they want. I just don't put my trust in that. No.

I'm talking about a lasting trust. A deep trust. One that comes from really caring about the person on the other end of the line. A trust that is given as a gift through shared experiences and bolstered by continual care of that relationship. And when I integrate that element of trust into every relationship that I have, then and only then will I feel like a success.

What about you?
  • Have you ever gained a trust with someone and then lost it by something that you have said or done?
  • Do you think that being trusted is a greater compliment than being loved?
  • Did you know that blue is considered the most trustworthy color and that to be sincere you should always sign documents in blue ink?
  • Is everyone worthy of trust? or are there some that are untrustworthy no matter what they do or say?
  • Why do people put their trust in something or someone?

    Do tell!
Enjoy the day!

25 October 2010

Working Artist Initiative::The Characteristics of an Artist

{Screen print from LoftyMornings on Etsy}


"An artist is a man who tries to express the inexpressible."
~Alvin Langdon Coburn, Photographer


The subject for this week's Working Artist Initiative (WAI) readings is the characteristics of an artist. And these readings, while quite dry and a bit inaccessible I thought, were a challenge to me. They bring up the image of an artist that is reinforced throughout history in a series of negative stereotypes.

Artists have always been the victim of viewpoints, good or bad. Seen as flighty, unfocused, self-absorbed and strange. Often reclusive or anti-social. Sometimes with a God complex or a fragile disposition. Prone to crazy outbursts, hearing voices or lack of personal hygiene.



If you consider yourself an artist, do you feel defined by these images?
Why do we continue to reinforce these stereotypes in popular culture?



I do consider myself an artist. This is a term that I didn't always embrace. I always thought of myself as someone with artistic tendencies, not an artist. But now that I have welcomed that title, I have to admit that I am not comfortable with the implications. I don't consider myself as more moody, less responsible or more fragile than the general population.

I might feel things more deeply, but that doesn mean that I am crazy. I might see things more acutely, but that doesn't mean that I am divine. I might forsake all other things to bring my art to life, but that doesn't mean I am unfocused.

I do not feel that you can pigeon-hole any single person or group of people by the actions or traits of a few. There are people of every persuasion, every profession that are tortured souls and that is not the domain of artists in the least. There are plenty of artists that I know who are stable, competent and self-aware. They are productive members of society, have loving families and even support themselves and the local economy by their art.

The one thing that I rail against is the idea that an artist cannot be serious. For I am very serious. How to convince others of that?

I view it as my obligation to conduct myself as professionally as possible in all manners dealing with my art. To be seen as someone who is trusted and dependable and giving. And I may be an artist, but that doesn't mean that I want to starve for it. So I work hard at making every single penny that I can, while also supporting other artists and artisans who make things with their own two hands.



From one of the readings...

"An artist is one who not only sees but is prepared to pay the price of acquiring the technical knowledge to express what he sees. An artistic person is one who has not enough art in him to make him work at the technique of art whereby he can express himself; he indulges in moods and tones and impressions. Consequently, there are more artistic people than there are artists. The same is true of poetry; there are many people with poetic notions, but very few poets. It is not enough for a man to feel the divine flame burning in him; unless he goes into the concentrated, slogging business of learning the technique of expression, his genius will be of no use to anyone."


~Oswald Chambers, writer

Interesting to me in this passage is that Chamber is saying you can have artistic or poetic tendencies, but unless you commit to making it your raison d'etre, your reason for being, you cannot be considered an artist or a poet. He goes on to state that if you do not honor that talent that is burgeoning within you, then you are "living an impoverished spiritual life." He perpetuates those negative connotations while looking down on those who are 'artistic.'

I think that there are all sorts of artists. And sometimes the practicality of life gets in the way of pursuing that quest. But does it mean that you are not really an artist if you aren't into the 'concentrated, slogging business' of being an artist?

I do agree that there is a 'divine flame burning' within each of us and it is our responsibility to honor those talents. I don't agree that just being artistic isn't enough. Sometimes it is. Sometimes that is all that you have to give. And expressing your creative tendencies, whether they manifest as poetry or baked goods or on canvasses, IS of great use to everyone. Self-expression is not the exclusive domain of those who have gone to school to learn the 'technical knowledge' of art or those who 'pay the price.' Not everyone is ready to recognize, believe in, or accept their artistic nature. Not everyone can financially pursue that passion and give all to their art. What would be worse to me is in not succumbing to your call to be creative in whatever way it manifests itself, for doing so denies you the pleasure of tapping into your divine nature.

And until you are ready to do that, to make it an integral part of who you are and work it into a life that you can live with, seeing the world through the lens of an artistic person is enough.


What do you think?
  • Do all artists share similar character traits? What are they?

  • Are artists different because of their calling or called to be different?

  • Is the stereotype a self-fulfilling prophesy or it that just the way things are? Can that be changed?

  • Do you believe that everyone has been given an artistic nature? or is that only the domain of a few?

  • Do you see yourself as an artist or an artistic person? Is there a difference?

Do tell!

Thanks for sharing the journey of this discussion with me as I try to make sense of it myself!



Here is what I accomplished this week on my plan of action:
  • Participated in the A.R.T.S. Night show (my one and only show of the year).

  • Produced two of the three prototypes for my jewelry line in progress.

  • Conducted informal market research with the patrons.

  • Found that the first one that I created was the more popular of the two.

  • Sold a few. And accepted some custom orders.
  • Decided that I am on the right track.
Enjoy the day!

22 October 2010

Things to be Thankful For

"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."

~Gilbert Keith Chesterton

::Having a job, even if it is not the right job.

::Friends who send you cyber-hugs. Right when you need it.

Look at me crackin' the whip! I love all these orphans so much!

::People who make gorgeous things. Like Juls. I enslaved Juls for a day and she made me some stunning orphans to make good homes for. Is it wrong to want to lick these beads?

::And look at that gorgeous necklace in the center she sent me that I won. I pays to be a random commenter.

::A spouse who loves me, no matter what. Through 18 years. And then some. Happy Anniversary on Sunday to you, my sweet!


::The annual Hintz-DiSalvo Pumpkin carving extravaganza Saturday night. And then going to see the community theater put on The Wizard of Oz, an October staple since my childhood.

::Laughing at our common foibles and crying at our shared sorrows.


::Those who see the possibilities. Like Lynn Davis. Who saw potential in a few objects like some keys, a link, a button. And now I have some of my very own to play with and love. (And hopefully not hoard like I usually do with Lynn's artistry!)

::Believing in myself when it feels like no one else does.

::The generosity of this community rallying behind one of our favorite brothers so that he can defray the cost of getting well.


::A special thanks to Rebecca, the winning bid on the necklace auction "A Little Bird Called Hope". It will be winging its way to you (in the UK!) soon! (P.S. I am doubling your generous $75 bid to send Andrew some cheer!)

::And to the two other random winners of my giveaway from the auction post: Marie of SkyeJewels and Janet of Singingwoods. Congratulations! You each won something special from me... I would like to gift you with one of my new jewelry line prototypes... and maybe you can help be phase II of my market research. Send me your snail mail addresses at enjoytheday{at}tesoritrovati{dot}com.

::Participating in fun swaps, challenges and contests just for the fun of it. Like the current one for the Bead Soup crew. Or the SoftFlex Flex Your Creativity contest (voting is open!). Lot's of talent there. I don't really care if I win or even place. The important thing is showing up.

Jen's Before for the Revamp Swap

::Partnering with the talented Jen Judd-Velasquez and swapping a piece of jewelry that we no longer love, or hasn't sold or we are sick of looking at... looking forward to seeing what she does to make something fabulous. This is the before of what I got from my dynamite partner Jen Judd-Velasquez. Big reveal is November 15th. But you can see more at the Bead Soup Blog Party Yahoo group.

::And you, dear reader. For your comments, your support, your light, your enthusiasm. You make me want to be a better person.

What are you thankful for today? Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

20 October 2010

Gifts of Character::Friendliness

"I don't need a certain number of friends, just a number of friends I can be certain of." ~ Alice Walker

When I chose this card this week, I thought... pshaw... I've got this one in the bag. But then I started reading the card. Reading between the lines. And I realized that it is not always easy to practice the virtue of friendliness.

You know that maxim... to have a friend you need to be one. It really is as simple as that. Simple in theory. Sometimes difficult in practice.

If you are of the 'take what you can grab' and 'it's all about me' persuasion, you might be inviting on the outside but your invitation comes with ulterior motives. Chances are that when you look around sometime you will see that you are all alone at that party of your own making.

But if you seek ways to connect with others on a truly genuine level, if you care about where they are and not how their position can aid you, and if you find ways to make that other person feel special, loved... you will always enjoy the quiet company of great friends.


From the virtue card: Friendliness

Friendliness is reaching out to others with warmth and caring.
It is the willingness to be an intimate companion.
Friendship is essential to our souls.
We value ourselves enough to know that we deserve true companionship.
We attract others by what we are willing to contribute.
What we give we get.
The presence of a friend can soothe us, unleash our laughter, amplify our joy and diminish our sorrow.
Friends are compassionate witnesses to one another's stories.
We share our time, our attention, our love and above all ourselves.
We look upon strangers as friends we haven't met yet.
Friendliness is the best cure for loneliness
.

We moved here when I was 10 and built a house on a channel off a small lake. I remember that first summer that I had all sorts of friends. Who only wanted to come over to my house so they could go swimming in the backyard. When I tired of that, and suggested other things, it was met with resistance. It was clear to me even back then that this was bogus. That unauthentic behavior haunted me all through school with some of these people and may even be the reason why today these same people regard me with a certain disdain. I didn't give them what they wanted then so they weren't interested in being my friend even today.

My friend Lynn(a) has been my best friend since we were 10. When I was the new kid at St Steve's she was the only one in a long line of someone's who really saw me for who I was. She accepted me and didn't try to see what she could get out of me. She was always real and genuine with me. I am grateful for her true companionship. I wasn't the most popular kid, and it would have been really easy for her to push me aside, but she never did. And our friendship has remained steady for over 3 decades.

I have a lot of acquaintances. People that I get along with, that I enjoy their company. But there are very few really good friends. The ones that I bare my soul to, that I can't wait to be with them and when we are together it is like we never left and we can pick right up where we left off.

I have been blessed, honored really, with finding several such souls through the blogdom. These someones are ones that I really need to meet in real life because I feel a sort of kindred spirit with them. I am curious about how it would be to sit in a room and talk to them and touch their hands, give them a hug and a real shoulder to lean on. These virtual friends I have a complete connection to are the ones that I never miss the opportunity to share with, to write to them almost daily, to peek into their minds and hearts on their blogs. I don't want anything from them except their love and respect. I hope they know who they are and know that I love them with my whole heart.

Yesterday, at the A.R.T.S. Night show Lynn(a) gave of her time to come and booth sit with me. She charmed my neighbor Jen Selwyn who makes pottery. We drank wine, we laughed.She helped me writing up slips and answered questions for customers. She was a great asset to me but more than that I realized that she is the only one that I would have trusted to be doing that for me. To represent me. She helped me to shine last night, not because of what it would do for her, but for what it would do for me.

But most importantly we strengthened the bond that has been ours for 32 years.

The Practice of Friendliness
  • I make others feel welcome.
  • I trust that I am worthy of companionship.
  • I have compassionate curiosity.
  • I take a genuine interest in others.
  • I share my laughter and my tears.
  • I invest my time and attention in friendship.
I am thankful for the gift of Friendliness. It makes me a true companion.

© Virtues Project International
To order your own set of Virtues Cards, visit Virtues Village LLC.

So what about you?
  • Do you believe that you deserve true companionship? What would true companionship mean to you?
  • Do you find it a joy to invest your time and attention in authentic friendship? Or is it a challenge for you?
  • Who is your best friend? Tell us what s/he means to you.
Do tell!

A special thank you to all of you who comment so regularly and so meaningfully on my blog. The greatest joy that I have comes from knowing that we can continue that conversation, that you feel comfortable enough to share so willingly of yourself, and that you are so supportive and enthusiastic when you come here. You may have started out a stranger here, but with each comment, each conversation, each baring of your soul, I hope you feel that you are leaving as a friend.


Speaking of friends... only one more day to bid on this necklace auction to raise money for my friend Andrew Thornton. Go to this post to read more and leave your bid... current high bid is $75... did I mention that I plan to match the donation?

Enjoy the day!


19 October 2010

A Reason To Shop

Sorry for the radio silence.

Tonight is my one and only show of the year.

It is called A.R.T.S. Night (A Reason To Shop). All money raised goes to the Women's Fund of Portage County. They like to help women and children especially. I like that about them.
Getting ready... Bessie, Lola and new recruit Sally ready to serve.

Here is what else I like about this show {and what I don't particularly like}:
  • This is the crowd that is my best audience. {I really only do this because I need to have a face with this crowd, I don't end up making that much. Maybe tonight will be different.}
  • There is an admission fee, which weeds out those who are bargain shopping for three pairs of earrings for $15 and all necklaces under $40, 'cause that just ain't me. {But the cost is $25 in advance, $30 at the door, which I think is prohibitive. And narrows the universe of potential shoppers. How about $12 in advance or $15 at the door. More shoppers = more sales = more money for the organization. Just sayin'.}
  • The hours are short, 5-9pm. {I have to take an entire day off work in order to set up between 1-3pm. Not that I mind the off work part, but it isn't very convenient. On a Tuesday.}
  • They have hors d'oeuvres, and a cash bar. {But not for the artists. We get some pizza slices and munchies at 3:30. My observation... people mill around noshing and drinking, not really shopping. I think makes this more of 'A Reason To Eat' than to shop. Just sayin'.}
  • I don't have to worry about money. Or credit cards (especially good since I don't have that capability). You write up a slip, then they take it to one central location to pay for all their purchases at one time. {But it takes several weeks to get a check.}
  • I have a great booth space right near the entrance. {Since I only do one show a year, I am always trying to think of new ways to set up the limited space. And it takes me forever because I only do one show!}
  • My donation is 25% of the sales for the evening. {There is no booth fee, and they are helping the community, so there is really nothing bad about that.}
Pictures another day. I promise.

So tell me...
  • If you do shows, do you have any great tips you would like to share?
  • I am trying a 'Treasure Chest' of last years' pieces at a discount. Do you try anything like that?
  • Do you collect mailing list information? How do you use it? How do you encourage people to sign up?
  • What is your best display idea?
  • What is the best way to get through a multi-day show (I have never tried that)?

Do tell!


Enjoy the day!

17 October 2010

A Little Bird Called Hope

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all..."

~Emily Dickinson

Thank you to Lorelei for coordinating this fun little challenge.

The idea is simple...take the same {or similar} components from Michael's and create a piece of jewelry out of it.

If you watched me when I cook anything you would know that I don't follow recipes well. And I rarely read instructions. So I did what I normally do: substitute and replace some ingredients from the list. Here are the components that I picked up:


I didn't care for the carved wood cubes so I decided to bring in some wood rondelles that I had on hand. I chose a slightly different white chain, a little larger size. I fell in love with these little ceramic rondelles and used only the green ones to draw in the jade rounds, but these had a pop of red. Then I found these cool twisted/faceted red glass beads. When I saw the little bird in the Industrial Chic line, I knew I had to have her. And from my own stash I supplemented with red glass spacers and seed beads, green and black betel nut cubes, two vintage buttons, two antique copper plated branches I just got from Nunn Design. Oh, yeah... and a stunning flame-red egg that was custom made for me from Kelley's Beads. {It is my favorite of all the eggies she made for me!}

I have been wanting to use the egg for a long time. When I started messing around with the beads and pulled out the red, I just knew that I had to put that egg in there.

When I am designing I have a little trick that I use {maybe you use it, too?}. I call it "The Rule of Three." This is an actual rule that shows up in things like economics and medicine and mathematics. As a former English teacher we would use The Rule of Three to create an engaging pattern that had brevity. Bullet points with more than three bullets make your eyes glaze over. Think about how effective it is in storytelling... the Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and the Three Bears or even the Three Musketeers... In writing groups of three are more satisfying and effective. Think the Three Stooges. Three is a magic number.

And since three is a mathematically a triangle, I like it even more {shout out to all the Tri Deltas out there!}

I call this necklace "The Little Bird Called Hope." Some patterns and the colors are all arranged by threes, sometimes in a triangle. See if you can spot it. Three white pearls. Three pops of red. Three flowers. I tried to balance everything so that the colors and patterns aren't right next to each other. That is a great way to play with asymmetry if you have never tried it before.

Here is where the hope comes in... Do you know Andrew Thornton? His writing grips my soul with its poetry and depth. He makes the most striking jewelry and has been published in many places. His family owns Green Girl Studios, components that are enchanting and magical. I have had the good fortune to meet him at the Bead & Button. I enjoy having a conversation with him. I never miss a chance to visit his blog. I love that he makes my mouth water seeing what he made for dinner, and it makes me chuckle picturing him hopping out on the side of a country road to admire a weed, and of course I really appreciate the thought that goes into each new creation he makes. Andrew brings joy to many of us. But he is going through something dark and terrible in the form of cancer. His bravery has touched my soul. But being a self-employed freelance artist means there is no such thing as a sick day. So I thought that one way I could help was to auction off this necklace in his honor and send him the proceeds.

If you would like to bid on this necklace, "The Little Bird Called Hope" please leave your name, email address and bid amount in the comments. I will leave this auction open for five days, ending at 11:59pm on Thursday, October 21st. And for anyone who bids and is not the highest bidder, I will draw a random name out of a hat and send a little something their way.

To be fair, I I will even send out a little something to a random winner of those that comment regardless of a bid. Please leave a comment, making sure that your email is turned on so that I can contact you.

Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your bids, if you so choose.

Please go and check out all the great results from the challenge by clicking the links below:

Jewelry by Lorelei

Mary Harding

Hilary of Fryestyle

For My Sweet Daughter

My Life Under the Bus

Kristie of DreamSomeDesigns

Linda Landig

Copper Diem

Andrew Thornton

TyneBodenNecklaces

Raida of HavanaBeads

Erin of Treasuresfound - you are here!

Molly of BeautifullyBrokenMe

Beading by Malin de Koning

AuntieAnnie

Gr8Findings

Deborah M Purdy

Spirited Earth

My Critical eye

beads by breul

Beads for Busy Gals

Cynths Blog

Nayas Organized Chaos

For the Love of Beads

Jamberry Song

Peacock Fairy

Elysian Studio Art

Designs by Debi

Enjoy the day!

16 October 2010

Someone's Bowl is Always Empty

"There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread."
~Charles Dickens


Empty Bowls is a local community event for the local hunger prevention task force. For just $10 you get to select a bowl that was created by a community member... it could have been painted by a boy scout troop... or thrown on a wheel at the local senior center... or coil built by some preschoolers. Then you go through the line and get a simple meal of soup {provided by some of the best restaurants in town}, a small roll, a glass of milk and a cookie. Then you take that special one-of-a-kind bowl home as a reminder that:

Someone's Bowl is Always Empty

There is an auction at this event. I have donated jewelry in the past {I am feeling bad that I didn't this year...}. Some of the artists at Gallery Q in downtown Stevens Point decided to paint some larger bowls for a special auction. I just found out that the bowls are actually up for auction on eBay. You can view my bowl there {and bid on it if you are so inclined} with the bidding going for the next week.


I was inspired by Japanese chiyogami papers that I was working with at the time. I saw them all piled on top of one another and that is what I was attempting to do... make it look like different patterns are peeking out. They wrap just over the edge of the bowl to a white bottom. The colors are quite bright {and truthfully look a bit garish in these pictures} so I hope that it goes to a high bidder.

I would encourage you to find ways to help your hunger prevention efforts in your own community by giving to a local food pantry, or volunteering time to serve a meal at the Salvation Army or Place of Peace, or even bidding on a bowl for a good cause.

So... what do you think?
If you were to go hungry for a day... a week... a month... what would you miss the most?
Is there a hunger gnawing at you right now? Could it be more than just life-giving food?
Are there any hunger initiatives in your area that you could get more involved in?
Tell me what you are thankful for... I would love to know!

Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

15 October 2010

Her Clockwork Heart

"Her Clockwork Heart"

Inspired by the lyrics to the song of the same name by steampunk band Vernian Process.

Featuring a steampunk ceramic heart from Earthenwood Studios.


Her Clockwork Heart
Lyrics/Vocals: Mitzi Jones, Joshua A. Pfeiffer

Step into the looking glass, don't be afraid,
and I will tell you of a lovelorn masquerade.
A brilliant young inventor, a maiden so divine.
That they swore their love, would cross beyond all space and time.
The years flew by and love was grand.
She wept with joy when he asked for her hand.
But she'd fallen ill, and her heart was weak.
She'd soon be gone, but he'd a promise to keep.
Her clockwork heart now beats with mine. The greatest gift that I could give was time.
I know that some, would say otherwise,
and think it merciful to let her die.
(Let her die)
(spoken)
"I can't let you go...
My love, how long can this go on?
For I know that what I am doing is wrong."
Her clockwork heart now beats with mine.
The greatest gift that I could give was time.
You could not look straight into my eyes,
and say you'd let your only true love die.
(Never)
(spoken)
"So do I wind you darling?
Or is it you who winds me?
For I can't venture out too far,
afraid that you might leave."
Her clockwork heart beats next to mine,
the greatest gift that I could give was time.
An hourglass I fill again and again,
with a limitless supply of sand.

The voting is live for the 2nd Annual SoftFlex Flex Your Creativity contest. This years' theme is steampunk.

Steampunk is an interesting genre that reaches back and pushes forward. Think dirigibles, time travel and goggles. But also corsets, top hats and walking sticks. There is a certain romance to it but with a hard edge.

Found objects play an important role in any steampunk design and anything with industrial.

For this contest, you needed to show the SoftFlex wire. As a first rule from my self-guided beading 101 I learned that the wire was just on the inside, something to cover with all the great beads. So it is quite a challenge to me to try to show it. But SoftFlex has all these amazing Trios of colors that you wouldn't want to tuck away not to be seen! And I do love a challenge.

This piece was inspired by these lyrics. I understand that Vernian Process just revamped their website and released an album earlier this month. I will have to let them know that they were my inspiration with a song about a girl with a weak heart replaced by gears so her beau could love her forever. This piece has that come undone feeling of a clockwork heart all a-sproing.

If you would like to see the entries I encourage you to check it out. Voting will run from October 15th-December 15th. I would be honored if you chose my piece as one of your three.

Enjoy the day!

12 October 2010

Working Artist Initiative::Honoring Your Talent


"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." ~Henry Van Dyke

This week for the Working Artist Initiative (WAI) our focus readings were largely selections from the Bible with the theme 'God As Artist.'

I found these readings to be a struggle.

Not that I don't believe in the Bible. But more that I am not someone who reads it. And although I do attend church regularly and participate quite a lot {I am a cantor and my ministry comes forth in song} I have never been one to study scripture much.

So, this was a challenge for me.

The readings this week covered creation, law, poetry, parable, ritual and drama. And it was up to us to discuss the common thread and extract some sense from them.

The one reading that I identified most with was the parable. Storytelling is a rare sort of art. Wrangling words into stories where the listener or reader can find themselves and extract a bit of truth is definitely a gift. Jesus had that sort of gift and he used that to great effect in his life.

Here is the gist of The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30):

The Master went on a journey, but before leaving he entrusted his three servants with his property. To one he gave five talents of money, to the second two talents and to the last he gave one talent, each according to his ability.

The first servant took his five talents and went out and doubled the money. The second servant did the same. The third servant buried his talent in the ground.

When the Master returned home he called them forward for an accounting of the talents with which he entrusted each. The first and second servants each came forward to show they they doubled the talents they were given. The Master was very pleased with their efforts and praised them, giving them more responsibility than before.

The servant who hid his talent was called forward. He said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

The Master called him wicked and lazy, told him he should have invested this talent wiser and eventually took what little talent he had away from him, giving it to the servant with 10 talents before throwing him out 'with weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

* * * * *

For the record, I found out that a 'talent' is a unit of money worth more than a thousand dollars. I find it intriguing that the meaning of that word as we use it can easily be substituted here. Talents can be worth a lot of money. Take your pick for whatever meaning you choose.

The Master entrusted the servants with the talents according to their ability. Not everyone had the same opportunity, but the message is clear that all of them have talents. Now it is up to them to use them wisely.

The first and second servants increased their talents by expanding on them. They weren't content to sit idly by and watch them go to waste. They actively pursued ways to make the most of what talents they had. They were each handsomely rewarded, with more talents and more responsibility, for their efforts.

The one who hid his talent in the ground out of fear and spite was not rewarded. It may seem harsh to have the weeping and gnashing of teeth, but I don't see that as from the Master. I think that this last servant likely had regret for the things he lacked the courage to do. There is nothing worse.

Here is what I took from this reading: We have to use our talents to the best of our ability. With great power, comes great responsibility. We can work at our talents, find ways to make them grow and develop, or we can push them away and pretend that they don't exist.

I firmly believe that we are all talented in our own way. There is no, "You are so much more creative than I am," or "I could never be as talented as you!" That seems to me the saddest thing to say. And it is filled with negativity and lack of confidence.

Sure, I see things that someone has done and covet the knowledge to do that exact thing, to have success in the same area. But that is not going to make it my talent. Trying to capitalize on another person's talent does nothing to honor that which is within me. So I can be inspired and influenced by another without trying to snatch their talent. I have to be still and listen to my heart to find that talent that is mine alone. And I have a responsibility to share it with the world.

People sometimes ask me where I went to school, what training I have to do what I do. I smile and say that I have a G.G.A. {God Given Ability... and I am not afraid to use it!} I didn't need to go to school to hone my creativity. That may have helped set me on a path sooner than the 40 odd years I have behind me now, but it wasn't necessary for me to recognize, develop and celebrate it.

I firmly believe that we are creative beings by nature. To stifle our creativity, our talent, to hide it is to turn away from our true nature, to turn away from whatever Higher Power you believe in. And a big part of hiding it is not believing in it, lacking the confidence in your own ability to create. Yes, someone may not have the same talent that I do, but that doesn't mean they are any less creative. Creativity is a life-force that runs through us all. The key is not in comparing what you have to someone else, but to relish what you have and to use it to grow your talents to the best of your ability. Even if you never create a masterpiece or sell a million dollars or achieve instant name recognition - and so many other external signposts of success, you risk so much more by not honoring the talent that is within you. If you neglect to listen to your heart to tell you where your unique talents lie in favor of comparing yourself to someone, or worse yet letting fear get in the way of finding YOUR truth, you risk losing it all.

The truth is that wherever your particular talents lie, only YOU can get started with it, and you shouldn't wait... for the right time or the right material or the right inspiration. That time may never come, and you will have squandered your talent out of fear of failure.

And I, for one, am trying to live a creative life and a life without regrets. Tall order. But it is my responsibility to honor that within myself.

As my father routinely says, "Life is not a dress rehearsal." {Thanks Dad! I finally get it.}

Start today. Do something with what you have, where you are. Make a difference. Create that which only YOU can create guided by the knowledge that you are a creative being who is being called to live a creative life.

Curious to know what did I do this week on my plan?

  • Played with resin
  • Investigated other options for materials, techniques
  • Purchased and read a tutorial, still trying to digest that
  • Decided that I need more time to fully create my prototypes so I will not rush into anything just to be ready for next week's show
  • Had my first WAI critique on Monday night to assess where I am and where I am going

So... tell me what you think about this reading?

  • What can we, as artists, learn from God as Artist?
  • What talents do you feel called to share? What talents are you hiding?
  • What is holding you back from reaching your full potential?
  • Are there people you know who have been entrusted with a greater responsibility of talent? How are they honoring that?
  • Are there people in your life who are not rising to the challenge of their talent? What can we do to encourage their talent?

Do tell!

P.S. I hope I didn't come off as too preachy. These were just the readings of the week and I wanted to honor my commitment to you to chronicle the WAI through this forum. Thank you for allowing me to do that.

Enjoy the day!

11 October 2010

Random Bits

Random Bits, a la dear girl Kerry Bogert...

{Tell The Sky, original fine art photography from Irene Suchocki Photography on Etsy}

::Today the colors of the trees by the Wisconsin River have come alive with fiery brilliance.


::Homecoming was this past weekend in Madison. Gorgeous day to watch Bucky Badger and the Wisconin red give the Golden Gophers of Minnesota a pounding. And get to keep the coveted Paul Bunyan's Axe trophy for the 7th straight year.




::Thinking of going to New York in the spring with my friend for a conference. Not sure if I can do it but I would love the chance to be there no matter the reason.



::Holy crap! Only one more week until my one and only show of the year! A.R.T.S. Night (A Reason To Shop) helps the Woman's Fund of Portage County.


::I think I need to start creating like a mad-woman this week.


::And then I need to get ready with pricing and spreadsheets and displays... oh my!


::Working on ideas for my Working Artist Initiative (WAI). Hit a snag in making my third of three materials prototypes for my jewelry line idea. But I have a plan and MissFickleMedia and some other friends with the know-how have been very helpful in pointing me in the right direction!



::I love it when inspiration points itself out to me on my desk at work {as if that every happens!}. But this is what I found on my Page-A-Day calendar for over the weekend. Look at that combination of bright colors and inlaid designs. I want to make a bib necklace of metal paillettes that evokes the same.



::And how about those shoes? That would go with EVERYTHING in my closet!


::happy birthday, miss mary jane! {i know how you love the lowercase} i want to come and bring you chocolates and balloons and give you big hugs and kisses. watch your mail, miss! xo

::Go to Love My Art Jewelry for a fantastic Monday giveaway of some of mairedodd's earrings!


::Why does Blogger hate me so much? How can my screen look one way in the composing and another in Preview? Why? Spacing all out of whack... at least they corrected the horrendous reader debacle...


::Miss Mallory of For the Love of Beads gave me a huge shout out today on her blog. What an honor! What a sweet surprise! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

::Can't wait to see what the entries look like for SoftFlex Flex Your Creativity contest. A sneak peek is at the top in my header. Voting runs from October 15-December 15th and I just know there are going to be some great ones!


::I haven't seen my issue of Jewelry Affaire yet but I hear it has some great things in it! I am honored to have one of my favorite necklaces in it. Hope I get a copy real soon! If you don't get that one it is really lovely and well worth it. I am going to set up a subscription just as soon as I can!


::JulsBead is having a giveaway. Six different, one-of-a-kind necklaces will be awarded to six lucky random winners. She is one of the best parts of my day. Go on over and check it out!


::Lots of great challenges going on! Check out this month's Art Deco inspiration on Art Bead Scene or if you are in the mood for a challenge head on over to Lorelei's Blog to take part in the Michael's challenge. And if money is an issue, then try Lisa's Dollar Store challenge {I am very intrigued with this one!}. Michelle Mach posted a very complete list of challenges for Fall/Winter that I am bookmarking for lazy day inspiration!


::I am wondering if I should start up my 'Inspired by...' challenges again?




::I am so relieved to hear that Joann from one of the funniest blogs of all-time, Laundry Hurts My Feelings {I dare you not to chuckle and snort every time you read her posts!}, is doing much MUCH better after her little scare. With blindness. Keep the funny coming, Joann!

::Made homemade baby wipes and baby butt cream for an office mate this weekend who will be welcoming her first child soon!


::I need to mail something and the post office is closed. Drats.



::I think that maybe I will have lunch today. Sometimes I never leave.



::I am hoping that you all Enjoy the Day!

07 October 2010

Coming to My Senses::Hot Glass


{The Hot Glass Roadshow from the Corning Museum of Glass in NY is in town as a special community treat to celebrate the UW-SP Homecoming. Tiny Dancer and I sat in on one of their nightly sessions. They made a wine glass - which I completely missed the end part of, a wavy light blue bowl, and a faithful replica of a walleye that will be auctioned at the CNR Fall Migration event (of which I am no longer making that pendant from the tiles... more on that another time)}

I see... molten honey dripping from rods... tiny dots of colorful frit as they are rolled onto the honey balls... the gooey balloon expand as she blows on the pipe... the skillfully choreographed pas de deux of the glass artists as they quickly spin the glass and time the transfers just right...

I hear...
the hush falling over the crowd immersed in the wonders before them... the witty and engaging host detailing every step... the soft 'clink' of the glass pieces as they fall to the ground after being snipped and carved away... the protests of my flash as it locks on and I shut it down to have the natural light... Tiny Dancer say, 'I like being with you' which warms my heart more than that blinding furnace...

I taste...
anticipation in the air... the salty peanut of Tiny Dancer's trail mix... the dry mouth of thirst triggered from seeing the glowing eye of the furnaces...


I smell... the fresh fall breeze blowing through the courtyard where we are gathered... cigarette smoke from the man to my left... the hot flames in the 2000 degree ovens each time they open the door...

I touch...
my camera to my face anticipating the shot... smooth blue swirls of the wavy bowl made earlier today... the losing raffle ticket for the still warm glass pumpkin...

I feel... very fortunate to live in a city that appreciates the art... joy in the beauty of manipulating something out of nothing... inspired to look into a lampwork glass bead class (and found out that our University does offer that!).

What is coming to your senses today?

Enjoy the day!

06 October 2010

Gifts of Character: Fidelity

{Jukebox at Whitlow's on Wilson, Arlington VA. Photo by jagosaurus on Etsy}

"Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification but through fidelity to a worthy purpose." ~Helen Keller

The Virtues Project is an organization whose mission is "to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life by helping people of all cultures to discover the transformative power of these universal gifts of character."

I stumbled across a set of Virtues Reflection Cards I had received awhile ago while cleaning and organizing my studio. This set of 100 cards provides a contemplation "to help you awaken your spirit and live by your deepest values." I decided that I would randomly pick one and place it in my studio as a reminder for the week.

This week I chose FIDELITY.

At first I was a bit uncomfortable with that. Fidelity means faithfulness, right? I am very faithful and loyal, faith-filled and steadfast. At least I like to think that I am. Here is what the card says:

"Fidelity is abiding by an agreement, treating it as a personal covenant. It is remaining true to a cherished ideal no matter what happens to thwart our purpose. Marriage thrives when we fulfill our promise of absolute faithfulness to each other. In each relationship we form, fidelity keeps us scrupulously loyal. We avoid backbiting and casting blame. We are devoted to our employment and keep faith with a standard of excellence. We continually aim to be trustworthy. Fidelity keeps us on a path of true integrity."

Whew. I guess it means more than I thought.

It is interesting that I have chosen this one this week. I have been wrestling with my Working Artist Initiative (WAI) timeline. I have strayed from that personal covenant. No fidelity there. But I am working to get back on track.

I have, in fact, remained true to my ideals no matter what. I have remained steady with my conscience as my guide to the ideals I believe in, even if it hurts or causes me to lose out on opportunities. I did just that last week when I felt compelled to say no, thank you to an opportunity to create something for a client. There was something I felt was inappropriate in the request. I just didn't believe in what was being asked, and I didn't feel that it was right to compromise my values just to make a few dollars. It was hard to say no, and I could have just sucked it up and done the task, but I couldn't very well stand up for that particular ideal if I caved into this one chance. I couldn't live with myself if I hadn't registered my feelings about it. So I did. And it wasn't as difficult as I thought. And even if the client didn't necessarily agree, at least they understood. That is all that I could ask for.

I have a very committed and loving relationship with my husband, so my marriage is practicing fidelity. Our 18th wedding anniversary {garnet or porcelain... I just bought some pendants from LeAnn Weih of Summers Studios... does that count?} will be later this month, and I am renewed in my commitment to our life and love. I am wondering how we should celebrate that fidelity...

Relationships take a lot of work. They are not like a cactus that you can prop in a window and leave save for the occasional drops of rationed water. They are more demanding than that, and that type of fidelity - to give the relationship what it needs to grow and thrive - is the hardest part. I confess that I am not always the best at the thriving part. But even if I am not as present in my friends' lives, I remain unfailingly loyal and we always seem to be able to pick up where we left off, as I did with my good friend Kari who came to visit me last month {Hi, Kari!}.

Devoted to employment? Ummm.... I don't really know how to answer that one. Let's just say that I manage to steer my car toward my office each day even though the urge is strong to drive on past each morning. So that standard of excellence thing may be lacking. But that whole loyalty thing explains why I have worked there for over 14 years...

But the last line is the kicker for me... "Fidelity keeps us on a path of true integrity."

I believe in that the most. The worst thing someone could do is to question my integrity. Integrity is truthfulness and honesty, but also a consistency in actions, values, methods, principles, and character. I really hope that when all is said and done, I will have shown the worth of my true integrity.

But if I truly believe in this line the most, I really do need to make some changes to my life in order to fully live this virtue.

The Practice of Fidelity

I honor my commitments.
I stay true to my partner.
I am loyal to those I love.
I work out problems directly.
I am meticulous in my work.
I walk my talk.

The Virtues Reflection Cards may be purchased from The Virtues Project. I plan to pull a random card each week and challenge myself to reflect on and live that card. They can be used as guidance in making a decision, clarifying direction or simply provide focus for the week. When I randomly select a virtue, it is either a confirmation or an invitation, never a condemnation.

What do you think?
Did you enjoy learning about the Virtues Project?
How would you use the virtues cards in your life?

Do you see yourself in this virtue? Where are you excelling? Where are you lacking?

I plan on having one randomly chosen virtue each week on my blog. What do you think about that?

Do tell!

01 October 2010

RAW::Where Goodness Goes


This Random Act of Wisdom is brought to you courtesy of the bag from my Culver's Butter Burger and the best darn fries. Ever. And don't get me started on their custard.

So tell me... is there anyplace that goodness can't go?
What about in places that are filled with the opposite... hatred, war, greed, incivility? Is there always a kernel of goodness there?
What goodness have you witnessed lately?


Do tell!

Enjoy the day!

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