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?
One way in which I keep my space organized is, quite frankly (and much to the chagrin of many, I imagine) to limit what I own and what I purchase. As I've mentioned in previous blog posts, minimalism is a way of living I admire and to which I aspire. And this is by no means a judgement on those who surround themselves with supplies, who have rooms full of their hobbies and crafts, which spill out over dining tables and through hallways. Because, ultimately, we can only do what serves our spirit and our spaces in the best possible ways for the individual, and not the expectations of others.
But, if you're cramped for space, looking to minimalize or otherwise want to give a face lift to your work room or studio, my first suggestion (and probably the hardest to follow) is to limit and reduce your supplies, and keep only what can reasonably be used in a 6-12 month window. While I truly recognize how difficult this can be (we all love shiny things, I know), one way to help yourself stay organized is to allot a specified space for your supplies and commit to the limitations that space demands. I have two storage centers in my living room (aka studio) and do not buy supplies or tools that cannot fit reasonably well within them. Once those tools or supplies begin to spill out into other areas of my home, I pause, take stock, and reduce and re-home what's not be used in the last 6 months.
Small spaces also require quite a bit of compartmentalizing and creative storage solutions When tools and materials must share limited drawer or cabinet space, using storage bags, boxes, baskets or containers can mean the difference between chaos and calm. If you have a three-drawer storage chest, but fifteen different hobbies, dividing these supplies in boxes or bags, within each drawer, helps itemize what you have. When you shuffle through a drawer full of acrylic paints because you need the knitting needles you had no other room for, you not only waste precious creative time, but you also risk distracting yourself from a creative task by the inevitable pull of other supplies and hobbies within sight.
Better still, these (or some variation thereof) are available in a variety of colors, so you can easily color code your supplies! Tan bag for hammers, red bag for torch supplies, blue bag for saws, blades, files and cutters., black bag for beads. Reach for what you need without the distraction of a table top full of tools!
So, I invite you to peruse my studio tour below, see my space, what I find important enough for my process to store, and how I store them!
Happy organizing everyone!
What's a depth year, you ask?
Well, first, I'll say I wish I could share with you the origin story of this idea, but sadly I don't know. The concept has been passed from pillar to post so often that I'm afraid I couldn't track down its roots. I happened across this challenge through a YouTube tag, first within the tarot community and then within the planner community, so it's made quite a show online these last few years.
The premise is basically this: "go deeper, not wider". And, by that, I mean delve deep into the things you have that bring you joy and feed your spirit, without the distraction of new hobbies or material possessions. This isn't about deprivation, however. While a depth year often involves a "no spend" or "low spend" ideology, I consider it more a "conscious spending" exercise. I enjoy purchasing and owning the jewelry and work of other artists. This, for me, is an act of conscious spending. As a creative solepreneur myself, I understand the importance of the kind of support I offer to those sharing their work with the world. While I may not need that new pendant I've been eyeballing on Facebook, the act of purchasing and owning it helps feed my spirit by contributing to the creative cycle between small business owners.
So, while I may continue to support the art of others as resources allow, I will be otherwise limiting my purchases. I have rolls and rolls of wire, containers of beads and stones, and while my collection may pale in comparison to others, I have oodles with which to experiment. I have an electroforming and electroplating tool, purchased two months ago, that has yet to be used, so do I really need that new tabletop kiln and copper clay kit? Absolutely not. There's so much to experiment with, such a vast array of possibilities, even with my limited supply, that I could easily go the year without a single supplies purchase, and still find joy in the creations to come.
And this wont just extend to business. While I would love that striking new Schmincke watercolor palette, I have to recognize I've barely made the time to sketch at all in the last three months. And that new Filofax Maldren planner is stunning, but I have two Hobonichis sitting here with empty pages. And don't get me started on the Kindle books I've yet to read, the clothes or purses I've yet to put to use, the growing tarot deck collection that has been shamefully under-utilized and under-appreciated.
It's time to go deep with what I have, to learn to love what I have and seek further only those things which bring me joy (as Marie Kondo would say). And, perhaps, to love myself a little more as well, and appreciate my own company while also learning to love the experiences and moments I'm able to share with others.
So I've begun with my traditional New Year's deep clean. I cleaned my home and purged what's no longer serving me. I organized my work space, re-homed unused tarot decks, and donated purses and clothes I've never appreciated. And I'm journaling. I'm planning and journaling and creating a soul connection with this process that is feeding my spirit in the best possible ways. I'm digging deep into my own shadows, pulling them into the light one by one, examining my spending, enjoying what I own, and consciously purchasing from those whose work sparks joy.
While it may not be an easy exercise, I believe it will be rewarding.
So, happy Depth Year to all of you! If this is something that lights a fire for you, I'd love to hear about your own #depthyear journey in the comments below!
Minimalism looks different for everyone and not every need is the same, so my journey may look a little less stark than some, and excessive to others. I've always been organized and tidy. I've rarely kept things out of sentimentality. And "collectibles" was a word I'd banished from my vocabulary. Almost a decade ago, I donated my entire personal library of 5000 books, and never felt more free from the burden of stuff. So I held on to that memory when starting this journey more fully, when it seemed too difficult to separate myself from my things. Things without meaning or function. And I was surrounded by my husband's stuff. And my kid's stuff. And it all felt.... heavy. While I can't control what those around me chose to surround themselves with, I decided to take some power back for myself. I tossed old clothes.... you know... those clothes we hang on to for the special occasions we've never had in the two years since we bought them, or the clothes that will fit "some day". I condensed my purses to what would fit in a single basket on the shelf in my closet. All things that I had a lot of were all condensed to similar baskets, with the intention that nothing should "spill over" from the space they were allotted.
And this applied to my craft supplies and jewelry supplies as well. While I run a business, and keeping a certain amount of supplies and tools are a necessity, I committed to not spilling into the kitchen or closets with my shipping envelopes or unused or superfluous tools. I would buy as needed. I re-homed the dapping set, tumbler, chasing and repousse tools that I either only used a handful of times or never at all in the two years I'd owned them. And every day, I'm moving things out, to make space for more me.
Don't get me wrong. I still have things. While I purged a ton of kitchen gadgets (I don't even own a blender or mixer any more), and my coffee mugs dwindled from eight to four, I still have things for the fun of it. I have an obsession with hand-knotted mala beads and tarot decks and my aversion to the term "collectibles" turns a blind eye where they are concerned. I am not so minimalist (nor do I believe I ever will be) that I'll only own five shirts, one pair of shoes, or a single plate and bowl and fork and spoon. But what I do have must serve a purpose ("knick-knacks" is not a term I understand), and sometimes that purpose is simply to act as a conduit to serenity. The jewelry I own, for instance, provides a sense of serenity for me, acts as a sort of worry stone, that I can wear, carry with me, concentrate on, meditate with. It brings me to center. But, when something stops bringing me joy, or begins to feel more a burden than a release from burden, I am now quick to let it go.
And what has this meant for my creativity..... downsizing my tools and bead stash and everything else? Surprisingly, it's opened up new possibilities for me. The tools I'd had and didn't use were simply broadcasting this notion that I was somehow "failing" myself. That I wasn't pushing enough boundaries. And, quite frankly, it was stressing me out! But, by moving them on, I discovered there were still so many more boundaries to discover with what I still had. Without the distraction of that tool I "may someday, eventually use" I've become hyper aware of ideas still untapped with the mediums I already know and love. And I'm in a space now peaceful and serene enough to allow me to explore those possibilities.
Now if I can just get my husband to downsize what's in the garage. That room gives me hives!
Now, I'm sure what I'm saying here might ruffle a few feathers. It's easy to split hairs regarding the use of this term, and there's a certain sense of pride in calling oneself "self-taught". I totally get it! There's often no formal training to learn to knit or paint or draw or use a camera. I'm not discounting that there is a great deal of personal dedication required to learn a skill without a formal educational system to push and reward us as students. We don't have papers to turn in, tests to take, and our efforts are not assigned grades by which we can gauge our successes and failures. We should, as creative souls, be proud of our accomplishments but, in doing so, should not forget those from whom we've gleaned even the smallest enrichment during our creative journeys.
And I'm not saying that there maybe isn't someone out there in the world who truly did learn and improve their skills without those resources I mentioned above. There are clearly a few creative savants in the world who, from birth, hold a degree of talent that can't be learned. But I'm confident in asserting we can all be improved upon and improvement comes often as a result of influence by others.
While I never attended a school to learn to wire wrap, to draw, or to take a passable portrait of my cat, I watched endless videos, purchased tutorials (thank you Eni Oken, IMNIUM, Lonely Soldier Designs, Iza Malczyk, to name a few), scrolled through many a DIY magazine at my local craft store, and joined creative communities where I could ask questions and explore possibilities. I would not be where I am without the influence and work of others and, therefore, couldn't confidently (nor honestly) call myself "self-taught".
But let's split hairs (because I know a few are probably dying to do so). Self-taught is defined as "having acquired knowledge or skill on one's own initiative rather than through formal instruction or training" and, as such, implies that many of us creatives would fall within these parameters. But this also implies that we learn without the help or aid of teachers. This, to me, ignores the influence of talented souls we meet and who inspire us to be better. What are those individuals who provide us with videos, articles and lessons if not our teachers? Without these influences, I'm not sure I'd have had that initiative to explore my talents and improve upon them. Please keep in mind, this is my perception of the term and I how I chose to personally relate to it, and I understand others may not agree. But it doesn't fill my heart with joy to congratulate myself on my successes without recognizing the work others have done to help pave my way.
So no, I am not a "self-taught" artist. I am a self-learner. I take the initiative to read those articles, watch those videos, try those lessons all in an effort to improve my skills. But those resources are provided by teachers. And I intend to express how grateful I am for the gifts they've given me, and that I am eternally, thankfully, their student.
But, no matter how you learn, or how you define your journey and your successes, I wish you all one important thing..... a long, creative life!
Because.... woah.... it was a doozy! Full of good things and some not-so-pleasant things. It was like every annual check-up (from yearly physicals for my cats to dental appointments) came together in a singular two-week period. Seriously, it was like the stars aligned, but in a this-wont-be-cool kind of way. I blame a residual Mercury-in-Retrograde vibe.
And sure, I had a lot of those pesky things to get done, but now I can say they are done, right? So, while it was a month busy with some necessary unpleasantness, it was also a month of getting things done.
Unfortunately, those things weren't jewelry. Seems I got myself a case of tennis elbow that has been pesky and persistent. But I finished a whole slew of sketches for a personal art project, I got to take pictures of rescue kitties during a photo shoot at the local vet's office (even if they weren't in the mood for portraits), and I just generally indulged in some self-care and lots of Netflix.
And did I mention kitties?
Besides all those heaping helpings of distraction, I did manage to go live with a long-planned Tutorial Membership Package. This was basically conceived to be a huge discount program for tutorials. If you find yourself buying the discounted tutorial bundle packs every month, this package offers lots of additional savings. Not only is it massive savings against the full individual price of the tutorials, but it's savings against the already discounted bundle packs too! One price, one purchase, and you get access to 12 months (starting with the September tutorials) of lessons, with no additional purchase. You can read all about the membership here on my site, and purchase through the end of the month if it's something that floats your boat. EDITED TO ADD: The membership is no longer available.
But, now that the madness of August has come to an end, and I've given my over-worked elbow a rest, I'm hoping to get back into the swing of making new jewelry (with a special new sleeve and wrist brace for tennis elbow and carpal tunnel, of course.... I've learned my lesson). I've got a handful of stones at my work station, calling my name. Mocking me a little, sure. Taunting, perhaps. But beckonin all the same. And as all creative spirits can attest... we must answer that call, amiright?
Besides, the sooner I'm distracted with the creation process again, the less likely I'll be distracted by the urge to buy new art supplies!
So, happy creating, folks! I'll see you again soon!
The summer flu swept through the Hanna household with full fanfare this month! You know the kind of ick I'm talking about.... you feel fine one night and wake up the next morning in a fog of congestion, and then it all rolls downhill from there. It's going on three weeks now, fighting fever and coughing fits and sneezing attacks and, I imagine, another week or two to go! Because... and here is where I get to the point of this post.... I keep working!
While some might say it's admirable to push through illness, stay productive, get things done, it's also, without at least some moderation, seriously detrimental to recovery. A cold can seem a small thing at its start but, without self-care, can spiral into weeks of congested, sleepless nights. I was a zombie for four straight days and, just when I started to feel human again, I think "Right! Let's do this!" and jump ring back into my list of to-dos. And then a day later my body says "Hey now, you listen here, you will sit still if I have to make you sit still".
And it does.
And if you're in the business of being creative, if you're livelihood depends on your ability to maintain a certain amount of productivity, plan ahead. Reserve work or blog posts or social media posts to share during those days when self-care is a pre-requisite for continued forward momentum and you haven't the energy or will to actively create. And then, when you've scheduled your next blog post and you've shared a piece you made four months ago, take a lay down on the couch, watch a little (or a lot of) Netflix, drink some warm tea and rest. Rest your body. Rest your mind.
Everything else can and should wait.
One of the questions I'm asked most frequently is whether or not it's okay to copy a design, or how similar a design needs to be before it requires attribution to the inspiring artist. I wish I could say "The short answer is...." but, sadly, as with most things in life, it's not quite that simple.
Let's get the obvious out of the way. If you've paid for a tutorial, followed a tutorial offered for free, or otherwise have verbal or written permission from the artist to replicate a design, feel free! As an aside, it should be noted I'm discussing a complete design and not technique. Techniques are not protected by copyright laws. If you see a weave you like in another design, for instance, use it! But use it creatively and originally. I learned the netted bezel technique from the Eni Oken tutorial, pictured below, and used that technique with an original woven frame. Whether I used the tutorial or not to replicate the technique, it was utilized in an original design and therefore not a copy of the design. While attribution is the polite thing to do, in this instance, it's not a legal requirement.
This is also not a post about "accidental replication". You know what I mean.... those instances when two artists who have never met, nor been introduced to the other's work, somehow create pieces that are incredibly similar. While truly rare (especially in an age of Pinterest), this does happen. If you find yourself in this situation, and one artist can prove provenance (their piece was completed first), and they request a cease and desist, it's my opinion that the easiest and most professional thing to do is comply. Honestly, this isn't the end of the world. There are other pieces to be made.
As in my other posts on copyright, I'll reiterate that the idea you can change some variably-defined percentage of a design and still call it original is muddy waters, at best. There is no magic percentage that will protect you from copyright infringement. If you've been heavily influenced by another artist, the easiest way you can protect yourself and your work is to ask the influencing artist their opinion on the piece. Worst case scenario they say "Hey, that's a little too on the nose and reminiscent of the piece I made last month. I'd appreciate if you refrained from sharing or selling your version of my design." It happens. As artists, I understand we're often emotionally invested in the work we complete, and this response can rattle our sense of creative self, for lack of more effective phrasing. Rule of thumb: if you ask yourself "is this too close to (insert design here)", then it probably is. Ask the inspiring artist and go from there.
With that said, copying has it's place in the creative world. Artists, for thousands of years, have copied and emulated the work of masters as a study to improve their own techniques and discover their own style. I often find photographs I like online and use those as a reference to sketch. If those photographs are not open source (ie free for use), I do not share my sketches utilizing those protected images. They are just for me, to help me improve my skills, and they stay between the covers of my sketchbook. It's good to remember that not everything our fingers touch needs to go out into the world for recognition. So if you see a design on Pinterest, and you want to give it a go, I'll be the last person to say "Hey now.... whatcha think you're doing?". But I would caution, loudly, these replicas should not be shared or sold, even with attribution, without permission from the inspiring artist. If you can't determine who the inspiring artist is, don't share it. I like to err on the side of caution.
I suppose, in the end, the answer is simpler than I'd originally anticipated when I sat down to write this post.
When in doubt, ask the inspiring artist. When in doubt, ask for the opinion of an impartial third party. Can or should you copy? Yes to both. There's a place and time for it. What you do with that copy, or how you handle copyright infringement claims as a result of that copy, is another matter entirely.
In the end, folks, I encourage only one thing... stay creative and happy weaving!
I am not exactly an Instagram addict, but I can easily lose 30 minutes of my life scrolling through my feed. Wait... that doesn't exactly support my original assertion, does it?
I wanted to share with you my favorite Instagram feeds to follow. Maybe you'll find them as inspiring as I do! Just click their names to view their feeds!
1. Joybird. I'm not going to lie. I love Joybird furniture. I want to outfit my entire house with it. I want to live in their Instagram feed, wrap myself up in art deco light fixtures beneath a brilliant blue couch.
2. Pitch Pine Pottery. I have a weakness for pottery... specifically coffee mugs. Probably born of my addiction to coffee, but I'm fairly certain if (gods forbid) coffee was striped from the earth, I'd still own a ridiculous number of handcrafted mugs. I love having them on my desk, being inspired by their art while I work, and feel a little indulgent when drinking from them.
3. Ravens Meadow. One of these days, I'll own all her work and may not even put a single one in wire, because they tell such powerful stories on their own.
4. Tammy Kanat. Five years ago, if you'd asked me, I'd say that I'd never much bothered to decorate my walls. I was, you could say, severely practical in home decor. But this artist's work with fibers is absolutely inspirational. I could easily cover every wall, ceiling to floor, with her work and live in a fantasy.
5. Gracemerewoods. So much detail on such tiny canvases. I could imagine myself with an entire family of these creatures in my home, keeping me company, taunting my cats, and generally just being awesome.
6. Spirit Nectar. If ever there was jewelry that captured pure magic, this would be it. Any single piece and I'm lost in the woods with the fey.
7. Terri Foss. And keeping with the theme of mysticism and magic, check out the amazing artwork of Terri Foss, where everything is a fairy tale and all those tales include witches!
8. Sculpted From Nothing. It's like holding a world in the palm of your hand.
9. Moonchild Tarot. I have a problem. I collect tarot decks. A lot of them. To be fair, I've downsized my collection from over 200 decks to (a respectable, I think) 50. And until I get my hands on a copy of the Moonchild Tarot, their Instagram feed will have to do.
10. Homesweethell. Everything about this appeals to my inner goth. So very very much.
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