August 18, 2010

Waxing up the Philosophizing

A few years ago I fell into a glass rut.  I had begun to feel that I was no longer innovating, but had instead slipped into production mode and was turning out more of the same day after day.  In hindsight I realize I was playing it safe, making only what I knew would sell.  It was the major pitfall of having bought a home and assumed a whole bunch of grown up responsibilities that my inner child still wants to throw rocks at.

I needed to step away or I was going to hit the point of donefinishedoverCUETHEFATLADY, so I did what any artist who is me would do.  I spent a ton of money on new glass, uprgraded my torch, bought all kinds of new tools to play with, and then a month later realized that throwing money at the problem hadn't fixed it.  So I took a break.  I didn't even go near my torch for 9 months. I took a job bartending in a strip club~ yes, you read that right~ for an old friend.  Bartending had paid for my edukayshun, so I figured it could probably handle the mortgage for a little while.  I was right.

I hated the job from day one.  I hated going to work, I hated being at work, I hated leaving work knowing I'd have to show back up there to work again.  Still?  I did it because I felt so out of touch with my creative spirit that it seemed little more than a vague memory.

I don't remember what made me light the torch again that first time.  Maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was necessity.  All I can say for certain is that it was not inspiration.  It would take patience to find that again.  And a sense of humor.  And a lot of Prayer.

I did eventually find my rhythm, a renewed love for the glass, and a desire to spend time with it every day.  I do still truly love the process, the possibilities, the feeling of holding something in my hand that would not have existed but for my efforts.  I've learned to accept that sometimes a creative rut is necessary in order for us to challenge ourselves, to reach beyond our perceived limitations, to take the kind of chances that further our abilities and make us better.  As artists and as people.

There are still times of worry when I need reminding to keep an open mind, to stop and pay attention, to let some things shape themselves~ both in glass and in life.

I am immeasurably blessed to have long ago discovered the avenue through which these reminders most often come and because I sometimes feel led to share the story again, I do.

Some recent Jars of Clay~
*beads that were intended to be something else but took shape instead as these:


Dead tree pieces and parts
make excellent photo backdrops
even on an overcast day.
Fer reelz.


  1. Juls, I LOVE everyone of those Jars of Clay. What a great design my dear... and as always your colors are so vivacious! :)

    Love dead tree backgrounds. I can't believe you took those pics on a cloudy day.... must be because of your awesomeness that they turned out so Juls-a-licious! :) Yup, I just used your name as a verb - and I think I liked it! :)


  2. Juls,

    Thanks for sharing your story! That helps out a lot, that we aren't the only ones who feel like, "What are we doing?" Thank you!

    I love those beads, the colors are so rich and vibrant! They just make you want to hold them and roll them through your hands and go "YUM OH!"

    Take care!

  3. A fallow season. That is what I call it. Farmers let one of their fields idle each year so that the soil can refresh and renew and then be more fertile for the next time the seeds are planted. We go through that as creatives all the time, for me it is usually after a big push, like this gallery exhibit. Last night I was FED UP. I pulled everything out of my studio and started rearranging furniture. It will be a week long process but I know I cannot create in that environment any more. Maybe I will be even more fertile when I get back into it (and no fertility jokes here...that, my friend would be truly IMMACULATE!)
    Enjoy the day!

  4. this was a wonderful post and hits upon a topic that is very raw and real for me - how does one make things to sell vs. things that go further, fulfill you more and challenge? it isn't easy for sure... i worry that in production, i won't have time to create those things that are jotted down as beginnings of things bigger... i don't know... read 'art & fear' by bayles and orland... and the beads are beautiful - i actually love when things do not go just as planned...

  5. Your Jars of Clay are wonderful. It makes me happy to read your post and know that I am not alone.

  6. Those jars of clay are beautiful. I love where they came from in your creative journey. I make beads full time (and more) and I can certainly understand the 'rut.' I find that spending a few days every couple a weeks just playing works wonders for feeling like I'm not a factory. The bills and obligations do call but just doing a little playing makes all of the difference in feeling good about what I do. I hope you can find some time to just play with your creative spirit.

  7. Dear Juls~
    While I don't have an understanding of the sales part of crafting I do totally get the 'rut' part! I have ventured into several different crafting avenues and while I loved them all I didn't really get the satisfaction of being creative. I would always say I "follow patterns well" I hope it doesn't happen with my seed beads.

    I will tell you right now that there is nothing you have created since I have been following you that I don't want! And now the jars? Oh my!! Please continue to follow your heart in your creations that is what makes them so precious!!!

    Hugs Always

  8. wow- your 'philosophizing' was soooo right on- thanks for sharing your journey, breakthrough, etc.- I love it!

    Great creations! Jars of Clay are Hot!

    Pushing that artistic envelope is such a wild unnerving leap. I, who never used to paint or create in color, was challenged to do so by a dear "patron"- I was unglued, exhausted, strangely compelled and motivated - and when I was finished- I think I hated the piece a little- in fact, I could almost not look at it- because it was so weird for me. I- didn't even know what it looked like- having spent a lot of time and heart on it.

    funniest part is.... it was one of my best and favorite creations.