But first, I'd like to give a huge shout-out to all you wonderful folks who visited with me on my Facebook business page a couple weeks ago and shared in my 15k Likes Facebook giveaway, which was 12 hours of phenomenal fun. You've not only made the experience fantastic, but also the journey getting there and I'm not being modest when I say I couldn't have done it without your support.
Also, there's a boat load of stuff coming up that I have to share! First, later this month (August 16th) retired tutorials will be visiting my storefront once again, for two weeks. There will be a coupon code released all over social media (and I'll be sure to post it in the shopfront as well) good towards the purchase of these retired lessons. So if you've had hopes for the return of a particular design, keep an eye out because they're coming back!
Second, September 1, 2019 marks the release of the second annual Tutorial Membership! The membership will only be available for purchase during the month of September, and you can read all about it by clicking the link highlighted above, or check the page beneath the "Learn to Wire Wrap" tab. If you have any questions regarding this massive tutorial discount program, don't hesitate to leave them below in the comments. Also, feel free to email me any time at email@example.com and I'll do my best to address any questions or concerns you may have.
You'll get to see how I create the bezels, attach stones together, layer with accent weaves, handle wire shortages or overages and deal with frustrations that might arise from unplanned designs. This workshop will appear as a purchase option in my storefront in October, and will grant you access to a link including the PDF and videos, for immediate access and download. The workshop will be priced at $99 and will be available for purchase through the month of October only! And don't forget... if you purchase the membership in September, you'll have your member's coupon code to use towards the purchase of the workshop! My email will also always be open to any questions or for trouble-shooting during your creative process while creating your multi-stone projects.
But wait, there's more! Since the coming months are jammed packed with goodies, there likely will not be another Finish It! Design Challenge scheduled this year. Instead, during my Facebook group live chats, I'll be starting a project during the chat and choosing a name from the comments to receive the unfinished piece. This individual will then be tasked with completing the design using their own creative voice and vision! The first of these Finish It! Giveaways was a great success and I enjoyed seeing the completed project (which will be shared in the Facebook group).
I've laid a lot at your feet, so I'm going to head off, binge watch horror movies on Netflix and do some video editing! Have a fabulous day, everyone, and stay creative!
Anyway, that means I'm even MORE impressed with the entries, because the participants took the steps I provided (which didn't include that pesky 14 gauge wire) and had to incorporate that nonsense piece of wire in there somewhere! And boy did I open every single email submission I received and say to myself "Why didn't I think of that?" Because every single entry was outstanding.
By the way, if you haven't already seen the Gallery of Entries, check out the gorgeous work by clicking the link highlighted above! You wont be disappointed.
Now for the winners! We had both a "group favorite", voted for by the participants of the challenge (and only the participants, to help avoid a popularity contest), and a "judged favorite" chosen by a panel of seven individuals, myself included., who were non-participants in the challenge. So let's begin!
Both winners will receive 10 tutorials of their choice and a $25 cash prize (payable via PayPal), and Dalila will receive my finished pendant (sans that 14 gauge round wire!). But honestly, guys, let's be straight.... the struggle to judge this was real, and I imagine that sentiment is shared by all the participants who cast their vote. Because every entry was a wonderful peek inside the character of its creator, and inspires in me the motivation and creative drive to get some work done! Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and I hope you will all check out the entries linked above and share some love with the contestants.
See you in the next challenge! Stay creative!
View the GALLERY OF ENTRIES here (please view from desktop or laptop as the link is proving finicky from phones and tablets)
I often hear a lot of folks say that tutorials somehow negate the creative force, that following the instructions of another lacks a sense of originality. And this design challenge proves exactly why that's nonsense! Instruction is not law, it's not immutable. You are allowed to work with the flow of a lesson, or row down your own river. It's a jumping-off point, but not canon. I love to see how others change designs, allow mistakes to happen, cut wires too short accidentally and have to improvise. Those moments always spoke to me on a personal level, and offered me the opportunity to own the process, which is exactly what these entrants have done. They OWNED it!
(Please note: I received 54 emails and responded to each. I checked my spam folder daily to make sure I didn't miss a single entry. If you attempted to enter and do not see your entry in the gallery, please send me an email ASAP. I will add your entry to the gallery as quickly as I'm able.)
The gallery of entries will be available for VOTING, however, through May 23th, 2019. Voting is open only to those who participated in the contest. To vote:
A note to non-participating viewers and commentators…. please reserve the term “VOTED” for participants only, to avoid confusion during the judging process, but do feel free to comment as a show of appreciation for the beautiful work submitted. These entries are worthy of the recognition they receive and then some.
On May 24th, votes will be tallied and the “Group Favorite” (most voted by participants) will win my completed version of this project, any ten tutorials of their choice and a $25 cash prize via PayPal. In the case of a tie, I will place the deciding vote.
Also, a “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (who are not participating in the contest), will also receive any ten tutorials of their choice and a $25 cash prize via PayPal.
Every contestant should receive the finished version of this tutorial as a thank you for his or her participation. This tutorial will be sent as a reply to all the participants, within the next day or two. Please check your spam folder or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you do not receive your copy of the tutorial by the end of the weekend.
Thank you all so much!
Enter between April 15-May 15. Open world wide.
The purpose of the "Finish It!" challenge is to encourage the participants to extend themselves, their talents and creativity beyond the limitations of a single set of instructions and create pieces uniquely their own. Tutorials have been an integral part of my personal evolution as a jewelry artist, from such talents as Eni Oken, Iza Malzcyk, IMNIUM and Lonely Soldier. And my progression from the steps and instructions provided to me by others has been a worthwhile journey towards my own creative self-discovery. Tutorials need never represent a "cookie cutter" aesthetic, nor the only design possibility, but rather a gateway to limitless possibilities, and the entries received for these contests have proven, time and again, the truth of that statement.
Here’s the gist: At the bottom of this post is a link to a tutorial or, more accurately, the beginning of a tutorial, and ending abruptly less than halfway through the instruction. Your job is to create a piece beginning with the steps, as explained in the file, but ending with your own imagination!
While this is mostly intended to reward you with a sense of accomplishment, the “Group Favorite” will win my completed version of this project and any ten tutorials of their choice, plus $25 via PayPal (be sure to be PayPal ready!)
A “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (none of which will be participating in the contest), will also receive any ten tutorials of their choice plus $25 via PayPal.
Every contestant will receive the finished version of this tutorial simply for participating. This tutorial will arrive as a reply to your submission email, after the contest is closed to new entries, so check your spam folder if you do not receive it by May 22nd. Also, be sure your email host will accept incoming attachments. I've had many emails rejected because the mail box was full, or security settings did not allow attachments.
Note: Please access this file via a laptop or desktop computer. Some mobile devices are uncooperative with PDF downloads, and I may not be able to address requests for manual email delivery of this file in a timely manner (thus using up your submission time).
Good luck everyone and happy weaving!
But I was feeling the pull.
I've always been inclined towards a sense of minimalism. I don't like clutter. I feel overwhelmed when surrounded by too many things. And, of course, organization is a keystone of my day to day life. So, part of my Depth Year was a low-spend or no-spend promise to myself for 2019. I hoped to find peace and joy in what I already possessed, and not in the hunt for something new and shiny. This didn't, necessarily, mean I wouldn't purchase anything at all, but that I would attempt to be very conscious about my purchases.... bringing to me only the things that filled a need, purchases that supported local artists or business owners or fed into the creative community, and purchases that would further what interests I'd already established that I'd hoped to journey deeper into during the year.
And I think, entering April, I'm finally finding my groove with my Depth Year journey. I deleted all shopping apps from my phone (even apps for Michael's or JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby.... those coupons encourage me to spend without necessity!). And now that I've purged unused items, even items I've only recently purchased, I feel much more free to create, or that I'm at least open to creative possibility.
While I may have moments I'm derailed from this new path of mine, I wont punish myself for it or allow it to derail my goals moving forward. I may yet buy another purse. I may buy another tarot deck, despite the 20 I haven't used in months. But I'll endeavor to try, every single day, to invest my time and energy into what I have.
And this isn't just about "things". I endeavor to spend my time more consciously as well. I want to experience the depth of great relationships, encourage other creative souls in whatever way I can (and yes, sometimes this will mean buying things), and keep my interactions positive and uplifting whenever possible. And when not possible, be open to receiving the positivity of others.
So yes, while I may have "failed" at the beginning of my Depth Year, there's still a lot of 2019 left, and I'm opening myself to whatever that means. I'm excited to see where this road will lead.
Are you investing in a Depth Year? Let me know in the comments below!
Here's the rundown:
I am definitely looking forward to what the rest of 2019 brings, which will include other changes as well. Last September, I offered a tutorial membership package, which was basically one ginormous 60% off discount on 12 months of tutorials released (at least 60 lessons!). This year, I am (so far) undecided whether or not I will be offering this membership again. Only because I have a comprehensive online workshop planned that I'd like to offer, and my website can only accommodate one or the other, for a variety of technical issues and the limitations surrounding the platform I use. I could offer the workshop off-site, on a third-party platform like Teachable, for instance, so it's an option I'm keeping in mind. Let me know what you think in the comments below. I've got a few months to go, so there's time to make decisions yet and I'd love to hear what you think!
And now, I shall be off, plan a few more blog posts (I'm feeling chatty after so many weeks away from writing), and get to wire wrapping! I hope you all stay creative, until the next time....
So it seemed a no-brainer, as I got older, to invest a little time in art classes, as part of my school curriculum. I'd always been decent with a pencil, and could work with reference photos easily enough, but looked forward to the opportunity to learn techniques, work with new mediums and stretch my creative wings.
Little did I know, 8th grade art class would start a downward spiral of negative experience with the "creative" side of the educational system. It begins with Mr. Stanley, whose bald head and pompous demeanor I still clearly envision and, if you can't tell, for whom I still hold a great deal of disdain.
We were learning to work with pastels. It was my first experience with the medium, and working from the still life of a fruit bowl (because those are always riveting, am I right?) and I was having a great time dusting all that chalky powder from my hands throughout the class. Mr. Stanley was making the rounds, looming over the shoulders of students, correcting perceived mistakes and pointing out bad technique. To 8th graders. Sigh.
I was proud of my work, and my fellow students were complimenting me. But, as the teacher rounded my table, he leaned in close and said "I'd like to enter this in the state school art fair, but these shadows need a LOT of work. Make them darker". I didn't think my shadows needed more dimension, but he was the teacher. He knew what he was talking about, right? So I worked those shadows, nervously, while he continued his circuit around the class. Eventually he made his way to me again and said (I kid you not) "That looks like shit. You ruined it." But he took it and shrugged and said he'd enter it anyway.
My junior high school art teacher just told an 8th grader their art looked like shit.
And you know what? My piece of shit won 3rd place. In the entire state. Out of hundreds of entries. I thought he was rude and pretentious and a snobby critic, but I brushed it off and brandished my winning ribbon proudly while he said "You could have won first place if you hadn't messed it up."
High school rolled around, and I figured I was done with art class and content to fill my sketchbooks in my own time and work with the medium that brings me joy. I was done with self-important, snobby art-critic teachers. Until I needed a class to fill my schedule and basic art was the only thing available. And you know, it was a good class. My teacher was impressed with me, she wanted to push me and didn't feel she had the tools in an introductory class to do so, so recommended to the school that I move on to the (already full) advanced class. They made room for me and I was chuffed with myself. But worried.
For good reason it seems, because I almost failed that class. I almost failed a class in which the content is 100% subjective. The techniques were ridiculous, the projects totally obscure (for instance, we had to make a place setting for a famous person, from the place mat to the silverware). Gone were the innocent days of using oil paints or acrylics or charcoal pencils, because apparently the classics had no place in modern curriculum. The final project was 40% of our total grade and absolutely ridiculous. We had to sketch our home. I lived in an apartment. Do you know how hard it is to sketch an entire apartment building without any prior knowledge or experience with DRAFTING? But I did it, and it looked good. Damn good.
But that wasn't all. We then had to add texture to our drawing. The door would have carpet on it, for instance, and the windows would have a sponge, and the siding would be popsicle sticks. We had to cut and paste textures to our drawing. Then we would paint the textures and print our homes on a clean sheet of paper. I was horrified. The idea of ruining my perfect, clean, crisp beautiful drawing was heartbreaking to me. And also hella difficult! Because my entire building was comprised of really complicated lines and stair cases and small details, that I now had to try to translate with texture.
Needless to say, my print was a muddy mess and I received a D on my final exam, and a C in the class as a whole. The only C I received in my entire high school experience.
Thinking there is a right way to be creative or "do" art. Have you ever been told you're doing it wrong? That your art isn't art because you didn't do it the way someone else has done it? Have you ever told yourself something similar? Let me be perfectly clear.... there is no wrong way to "do" art. The act of the art is the only thing that matters, because your story matters, and in every piece of art is a piece of our story. Who is that person to control how you tell your story or diminish its important because it doesn't fit inside the paradigm of their own perceptions. Art is, and always will be, subjective. It's an indefinable way to express our own creative spirit. The expression matters, not the methods or techniques used.
Not taking risks. Oh, comfort zone, how we love thee. This is perhaps my biggest creative sin. I do what I know and I enjoy a place of confidence in my competency and the idea of failing at something new really, honestly, terrifies me. But one of the biggest ways to stifle creative flow and growth is by refusing to take risks. This doesn't mean you need the newest tool or the best supplies. This means it's important to flex the creative muscles any way you can, even when utilizing the materials already at your disposal. What matters is trying something new and sharing it with others. Because it's through the sharing of it that we realize our fears are misplaced.
Self-criticizing before the process is complete. Don't get me wrong, it's an important part of the creative process to be honest with ourselves about our work and the ways in which we can improve. But one of the quickest ways to derail progress is criticizing our work before we've even finished it. How many times have you scrapped a project and started over? By doing this, we are teaching ourselves that our story (here I go with the "story" metaphor again) is somehow flawed and, excuse me, but you... are.... not.... flawed. So I challenge you with this: the next time you want to scrap a project, fight the urge and push through. Use that mistake and build from it. Because what is a story without the mistakes from which we learn? And you might be surprised by the magic of your mistakes.
Inconsistent creative times. If you've followed my blog for five minutes, you'll know I'm a huge advocate for organization, planning and order. And while many creatives may fight this ideology and cling to the cliche that artists are inherently chaotic, there is an important role of consistency and order in the creative process. By this, I mean it's important to create daily. Every single day. It doesn't have to be gallery-worthy. It doesn't have to be wearable. It doesn't even have to be particularly pleasing to look at. It just has to be made, however small, however functional, however utterly UN-artistic it may seem. Create something every day, be it a sketch, a poem, collage, a journal entry, a prayer, a photograph. Even 100 ear wires or 5 feet of viking knit chain. All of these activities stimulate the creative muscle and it's through this daily stimulation that our imagination and creativity become habitual.
Consuming more information or skills than we have time to process. I see this one a lot. I want to learn bezel setting. I want to learn soldering, or metal clay or electroforming or acrylic paint pouring, knitting, pottery, crotchet! This may be hard to hear..... this may even be totally counter-intuitive to your nature..... but it's important to limit our creative endeavors to what we have time to really invest in and process. Learn something new, yes, but then do that thing for months and months. Do it until you don't have to think about it any more because your body knows what's required of it to tell your story effectively in your art. Then learn something new, and do that thing for a year. But, by consuming an endless library of skills, techniques or information, you're more likely to overwhelm and short-circuit your creative muscle than you are to flex it.
Believing there is nothing new to learn. You know that saying "there's nothing new under the sun"? You should, because I've mentioned a time or two how much I hate it. The confusion here is that we sometimes believe learning is limited to technique, but art and creativity is more than that. Our voice and heart and spirit (however woo-woo that may sound) is part of the process, perhaps the most important part, and there are always new ways to express that spirit. I challenge you to spend thirty days.... one whole month.... working with only one medium, and make something totally different with that medium each time you pick it up. If wire is your medium of choice, make a pendant one day, a brooch the next, a sculpture, then a candle holder or a wall hanging or a picture frame. Teach yourself (through risk, as mentioned above) that there are endless ways to tell a story and you'll never know them all.
Toxic comparison as a form of self-sabotage. Oh boy. This is a big one and perhaps the most damaging of them all. Because there is no quicker way to dampen our creative flow than by comparing ourselves to others. And we've all done it, I hazard a guess, because we're socially wired to see ourselves as less than. Our bodies are less than those in the ads. Our paintings are less than those in the galleries. Our jewelry is less than those in the magazines. But that's doing ourselves an immense disservice, because comparing our work to others is diminishing the heart and soul of our creative flow. My challenge to you: go to Pinterest or Google and find that artist and his or her work who sparks you to say "I'll never be that good." Go on... do it. We all have that artist to whom we have compared ourselves and found ourselves lacking. And look at their art. Admire it for the beauty and talent and dedication it took to complete it. There is purpose and meaning in surrounding ourselves with the art of others and finding beauty and inspiration from it. But then look at your own art and note all the ways, even if you have to physically write them down, your work is amazing. Did you utilize a new technique in your latest piece? Did that wire flow in just the right way to lead into the next and the next and create a whole? Did the combination of materials spark joy in your when you put them together and planned your work? Be proud of your accomplishments. You made something! And the next time you make something it will be better.
So tell me, have you committed any of these creative sins? Are there sins you've created that I haven't mentioned here? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!
I love a good documentary! So I've compiled a list of my top five favorite documentaries about the art world, how perception paves the way for art, prices art, how art is born and shared. While these are not related to wire wrapping, directly, there's certainly a correlation between the same sentiments expressed here in these films and the world of wire wrapping or any creative endeavor. Many can be viewed or purchased on YouTube, or on Netflix, though one was a HBO special, and I'm not sure on its current availability.
The Price of Everything: In a world where everything can be bought and sold, this documentary takes a bold look at how we value our own time, the time of others and where are values become skewed due to the perception of ownership and exclusivity.
My Kid Could Paint That: An eye-opening and daring portrait of how we might sometimes paint our own reality to suit our perceptions of art and its value.
Blurred Lines: Inside the Art World: Asks us to question whether or not the art world is more a multi-million dollar industry to feed the egos of the rich.
Exit Through the Gift Shop: One of my favorites on this list, as it's essentially (in my estimation) a Banksy prank, by Banksy, perhaps even mocking his own popularity and the absurd propensity of the public to ascribe value to everything.
Marina Abramovic- The Artist is Present: If there was one artist I would love to meet in person, it would be Marina Abramovic. The Artist is Present details her performance art career and exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Moving and compelling.
The creative community, especially in a digital era, is an incredible thing. It's a collective sentience from which a world of spirits conjoin to feed the whole. During the last ten years, I've been incredibly lucky and blessed to have experienced some unbelievably positive communications and friendships as a result of my presence and interaction within a creative online forum (in one capacity or another). And I can happily assert that the positive far outweighs the negative, at least when drawing from my own experiences.
But there is a worm working its way through the essence of our communal purpose.
Perhaps it's always been there, this bit of darkness, and it's only the ever-growing digital world that allows it a stage for its play. But I'm concerned, folks. Truly. I run a large wire wrapping Facebook group, with over 26k members (and counting) and, while the majority of the interactions are (thankfully) super helpful, positive and from a place of growth and inspiring creative spirit, there's an alarming amount of negativity. And, having thought about it for some time now, I'm confident in my theories regarding its source.
In essence, self-doubt breeds ugliness. Because there's an undeniable need to tear others down to lift ourselves up. It's easier to see ourselves as better than we believe ourselves to be, when we convince others they are somehow less. In the last week, I've seen individuals criticize (and I have a very strong opinion against offering unsolicited advice or critical commentary) the work of others, for no other reason than to hear themselves talk. Because, ultimately, criticisms are only beneficial when shared in a manner that is empowering. This social skill, like any other, must be learned.
In the creative community, when does serving our own interests justify questionable behavior? If everyone doesn't leave an interaction having been empowered, even if only a little, then there's no justification at all. It's not "helpful" to make any of the above statements, and I honestly and sincerely question the motivations of those who believe otherwise.
It's time we, as a whole, take a moment. Stop and think about how our opinions, and how we chose to express those opinions, affect others. We can no longer enable this behavior, nor foster an atmosphere in which it's more acceptable to say "Well you posted it online, so you should expect people to tell you they don't like it" than to say "I can't wait to see your next creation" or, if you can't or wont indulge in false compliments, say nothing at all. It's time we recognize that because we can offer an opinion doesn't mean we should, and it's important to understand the needs of those sharing their work before we commit to our comments to them.
Words have power. And this power is motivated by either negative or positive intention. Will you chose to use your power to diminish others, or lift them up?
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