Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Finding Your Muse (Its not always easy)

The Bead Circle is having a little challenge called The Muses of Beading. You can read more here:
Muses of Beading Challenge

I was inspired by this challenge and have decided to give it a try. I've never participated in a beading challenge before so this should be fun. Here's hoping I can actually come up with something and complete the project before the deadline next month.

The first step was to indentify with a muse. While each muse has played a central role in my life, artistic or 0therwise, over the years, I had trouble deciding who seemed most influential to me the majority of the time. So I did what any good web-junky would do. I Googled for Muses quizzes!

I took a couple and kept getting the same results for the most part. Seems that Polyhymnia, the muse of hymns and sacred poetry, is the most influential. According to one quiz, she is my influence 75% of the time. I can see it. I'm quiet and contemplative much of the time. I really think things through, I'm a born planner. Okay, sometimes, I overthink and overplan, but that's part of my charm. And according to the Bead Circle, as a muse of beading, she wears a simple pendant necklace. That's me. My jewelry, both that I make and that I wear, is most often simple and subtle.

Clio, the muse of history, also came up on two quizzes. For one, she was the most influential, and the quiz actually suggested I try archaeology due to my love of history. I laughed, as this was my major in college and I work for an archaeological consulting company. I'm a big believer in the importance of studying our history. We need to learn from our mistakes in order to move on and better ourselves in the future. As a muse of beading she wears vintage components. I love that.

Urania also came up as quite influential, though she's not the most influential (she was tied for second with Clio, after Polyhymnia). She is the muse of astronomy and science so that makes sense. I'm a logical person much of the time, even when I'm being creative. I have a love of the stars and planets, though I prefer to just enjoy their beauty rather than study them. As a muse of beading she wears a necklace that incorporates many beading stitches all worked together (I assume in a logical pattern).

So now what? Well, I've been brainstorming on some project ideas that would either be worn by the muses, or would pay homage to them and be something they would be honored to have inspired. Oddly enough, I have plenty of ideas for Clio, a number for Urania, but not much for Polyhymnia. Maybe I'll just have to invoke her for some divine inspiration. I may end up making something for all three, or maybe I'll do something to incorporate all three into one piece. I'm not sure.

Over the next couple of days I'll post some of my brainstorming and the ideas that have come out of it. It will help me to organize my thoughts and will likely create even more ideas. Maybe you'll have some ideas to add to mine. Maybe you'll find your muse and want to join the challenge too.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Favorite Site of the Week "Bead Circle" - October 1-7, 2006

I think I may have to do this sort of thing now and again, if anything, it gives me something more to blog about. I'm always surfing around trying to find great new sites on beading and jewelry making. One of these days, I'll actually set up some links.

I found some great beading blogs here and through them, many great new sites I had never visited before. I'd like to highlight one of them today: Bead Circle. Bead Circle is a small but very friendly little online beading community (forum). Due to the small number of members, you don't feel like you'll get lost in the shuffle and you get a stronger sense of community (its easier to get to know a smaller group than a larger group). I've read every post on there so far and its been such a friendly place, everyone is very supportive. It is a diverse group of folks, of varying experience levels and areas of expertise. I've only posted once, but I plan to get some snaps of my very first beading attempts to post there, along with some recent creations, to get some feedback. You can find this super great group here:

Oh, and be sure to check out their blog, it has some great articles, information, and ideas.

Happy Beading!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Setting Goals and Dealing with Information Overload

One thing I have discovered upon getting back into beading and jewelry making, is that there is just so much out there now in regards to this hobby/art form. Its almost overwhelming really.

I decided to get back into beading about 2 years ago, when I found a couple packets of old seed beads in a craft supplies box (the things you find after moving 4 or 5 times in as many years). I remembered how much fun I had beading and decided to start up again. So of course, my first step was to find out what's new in beading, where to shop for supplies, and to find some inspiration to get me started. I turned to my computer. And boy did I find what I was looking for. And then some. I spent hours searching for sites that provided tutorials and patterns. I scoured sites selling handmade jewelry (to see what was new, and what folks were charging for their pieces). I printed out hundreds of pictures for inspiration, countless patterns and instructions for projects. I joined a number of jewelry making forums and groups. Then I promptly went to my local craft store and went nuts. I bought beads, wire, ribbon, buttons, thread, needles, organizers, more beads, findings galore, tools, a wire jig, more tools, a few more buttons, some finished pendants, polymer clay and supplies for that, and more beads. It wasn't long before I needed a bigger craft box.

It was also at my local craft store that I discovered all the beading and jewelry magazines available today. Along with all the books and pamphlets. I bought an armload and devoured each and every one. Then I took out subscriptions for most of the magazines.

Now, two years later, I have boxes and files chock full of ideas, instructions, patterns, and inspirations. I have piles of magazines and a shelf of books (though I must say, one can never have too many books, of any type). I even have half of a spare bedroom carved out just for my work table and craft boxes. Its an obsession. But a fairly healthy one I'd say (though I may be biased). But I stare at these piles of inspiration and am I inspired? No!! I'm absolutely overwhelmed! There are just too many great projects I want to try, too many gorgeous patterns and ideas I want to implement. And way too many forms of media to chose from (from simple stringing to complex stitches, crocheting with beads and wire, wire wrapping, metal smithing, polymer clay, fibers, glass, etc). I'd need at least two clones of myself in order to do all the projects I want too. That is, if I could actually decide on a project, stick to it, and see it through (lets not talk about my box of started projects, or the beads I specifically bought for a project but have yet to use over a year later....).

So last night, during my hour-and-a-half-commute, I had an epiphany (I like that word, I don't get to use it often enough). At the next red light I grabbed out my mp3 player, which has a voice recorder, and spent the next 23 minutes of my drive laying out my plans for getting projects done. I spent the remaining 67 minutes singing at the top of my lungs as I passed through the lovely industrial district that is my drive home, but that's something for another time.

What was my big idea you ask? Excellent question my friend, excellent question. Let me tell you. I decided that I needed to narrow down my choices. But how? My plan is to pull out a large bulletin board I have at home that is just collecting dust currently. I will attach the name of the month, because its an excuse to be crafty. Then I will randomly select one magazine or three printed project sheets from my collection. I will photocopy the first page of three projects from that magazine that I want to try. Then I will put all three copies up on the bulletin board. After I figure out my shopping list I can purchase supplies I may be lacking. The goal will be to finish all three projects in the month. If the projects are big and intensive, I may drop it down to two. If they're all really small and simple, and I find I finish them before the end of the month, I'll put up two or three new projects to fill out the month. This way, everyday when I walk into or past the craft room, those projects will be staring at me from their place on the bulletin board. It will help me to buckle down and get some work done. But it will also narrow down my choices. These are the only projects I can work on that month. Nothing else. All other projects are off limits, out of sight and out of mind.

Think it will work? I don't know. But I plan to set it up this coming weekend for the month of October. Wish me luck!