Studio practice makes perfect (or not)

>, studio practice>Studio practice makes perfect (or not)

I almost titled this post “losing my religion.”

I’ve never, in my whole life, had writer’s block, or lacked for art ideas. Quite the opposite: No sooner do I start work on one idea than the next pounds on the door, demanding to kick my current project to the curb.

Lovely problem to have, but it makes actually FINISHING a project a bit difficult.

Lately, though, creativity seems to have decided I ran away from home so it’s not worth bothering to knock. I’ve gone beyond “a bit rusty;” it’s like that dad-blasted muse went on a year-long bender.

Well, lady, don’t let the screen door hit ya where the…never mind.

My time has been (blessedly) filled with work, learning to walk again, taking care of random business and home renovation matters, keeping connections with friends and family, that sort of thing. Thanks to a studio renovation that keeps getting put on hold, I’ve had no real space to work anyway.

Turns out that creativity is a muscle, just like the poor flaccid tendons on The Leg: Needs regular exercise. Use it, or lose it, baby. And getting muscles back is a long, hard road.

Two weeks ago I entered my poor studio-cum-storage-facility, grimly swept aside a bunch of construction supplies and boxes, and cleared just enough space to make something. There’s not enough room for sculpting or pate de verre and besides, you couldn’t find Dennis-the-Denver kiln if you tried. (although I’m assured by The Resident Carpenter that if you look past the table saw, unicycle, palletized crates, and lumber, he’s still in there). Making glass stuff is out of the question.

Fortunately, I have just space enough on the drafting table for sculpting with metal clay and enameling the result. I dug out my supplies, stacked up my clay sculpting tools, and spent the first weekend making a simple pendant.

It broke. I repaired it. It broke. Tried again. It broke. Did that twice more, then FINALLY, after SIX BLOODY DAYS created a reasonably good-looking pendant that should have taken maybe four hours to make.

I smoothed it down to not-awfulness, and held it up for satisfied inspection. It slipped from my fingers, smashing into 16 pieces.

The Resident Carpenter, wandering downstairs to see if I wanted lunch, witnessed the tail-end of a rather spectacular tantrum. Smart fellow that he is, he made an immediate about-face, marched upstairs to his office to safety.

I started over, slowly. Got it mostly finished; we’ll see tonight if it actually makes it into the kiln.

I know, from teaching others, how you overcome a block: You start slow, with easy, undemanding projects that don’t matter. You just get something, ANYthing into the kiln, whether it’s perfect or not.

Get the first one under your belt, make another. Follow your instincts, branch out, don’t worry about critiquing your work, just make. Doesn’t matter WHAT you’re making, the key is THAT you’re making.

Eventually, you wear a little hole in that creative dam, start the trickle and build the flood. Invite the muse back inside your head. Finally, you’ll make a keeper, and slowly, surely, your creative muscle comes back and grows strong.

I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, Madame Muse. It won’t happen again.

Now, will you please come back inside?




  1. kathryncecelia November 20, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    I love your open discussions of ideas and situations. We all experience what you are, but in our own ways. Your humorist writings capture your point of view and your humor engages me every time. I love reading your blog. I am also so happy for you that Elmo was saved. You have come so far from the fateful fall. You have inspired me, made me laugh and on occasion made me cry. No matter what you write about I enjoy reading it.

  2. Sandy Talen November 20, 2018 at 10:34 am - Reply

    I have lived your recovery with my own right arm breakage after replacement and am now learning to stacatto type so I won’t double type letters. I LOL’d with tears streaming. Love hearing and sympathizing with your dilemma.

  3. Ellen Abbott November 20, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

    I laughed at the tail end tantrum and the RC. I remember one piece I put my heart and soul into and the end result didn’t cast all the way and not only that but Marc broke part of it demolding it. I went to the gym for my workout and burst into tears. then after the crash of 08 and getting dumped by my 1st tier gallery I didn’t make anything for two years I was so demoralized. but it comes back. the more you do…well, you know. except the gallery part.

  4. Charlitte November 20, 2018 at 7:13 am - Reply

    Thank you for this. I’m sorry you feel a bit rusty, but it has helped me and I appreciate it. Love you!

  5. Kathy E November 20, 2018 at 7:00 am - Reply

    Maybe you’re different enough now that you need a different muse.

Comments welcome! (thanks)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: