refining

refining a leaf/petal, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

I have been documenting the piece
at various stages of progress.
However, I have been too busy to post them,
as I have been spending almost every free moment
doing this.

I will post the step-by-steps
and some thoughts on things I’ve learned
as soon as I have the chance.

Stay tuned…

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New projects marinating…


I often think that random curiosity (and a trip to the library) can be my downfall.  It is so hard to resist exciting new ideas which beckon, even while I’ve only just begun to explore the previous one.  I’ve no desire to rope in my wandering brain, but rather to figure out some miracle method of time management, so that each one gets its due.  Anyone have any helpful thoughts?

Not everything else is junk

In the interest of clarity, I might say that I don’t think that everything which is not directly related to jewelry making is junk getting in the way.    I’ve never been that kind of obsessive.  I’m more of a ‘looking-for-balance” type than a “got-to-get-rid-of-all-else” type.  My white room isn’t really empty, but I need to be conscious and deliberate about what I want to put in the room, what to line the path to the door with, what to keep in view from the windows, as it were.

windowsill-herbs-1

Plants and gardening get a fair amount of time lately.  Growing food, digging in the dirt, getting outside, slowing down to the speed of plants, doing the constant work of weeding.  All this feeds my brain, or perhaps empties it.  The wordlessness of it is clearly rejuvenating and focusing.

mini-print

I might need to be by myself in the room, but the path to the door is lined with friends.  I am constantly inspired and prodded on by the creative process and work of others, many of who I know only thanks to this lovely thing we call the internet.  One of my latest finds is Pretty Good Things, the blog of Mary P., who makes amazing prints and hats and other fancy things for your head.  (Did you notice my hat obsession has been re-kindled of late?)  She’s funny and generous, and is doing monthly give-aways.  And I won this lovely little trio of cephalopods.  And I love sea critters, yes I do.  Pay her a visit, why don’t you?

new-book

There’s clearly a bookshelf right outside my white room and a comfy chair.  If I don’t park myself in that chair and get lost in a book on a regular basis, the door to the white room is stubborn and hard to open.  Sometimes I’m reading something which touches directly on jewelry or craft, and sometimes lessShop Class as Soulcraft was purchased and devoured in about a week.  There was an essay in the NYT a few weeks ago, as well as an earlier version in the The New Atlantis.  I highly recommend you get your hands on the book itself if the essays at all intrigue you.  Mr. Crawford makes an argument which is relevant to anyone who feels drawn to do work with their hands and resists the pressure to inhabit a cubicle.  I think that might be a few of us, no?

Resolving at last….again

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I have always resisted the pressure to have New Years resolutions etched in stone before midnight on Jan 31st.  It used to be that there was just too much going on in December, but now, I must admit, I think it’s because I like to spend January plotting and planning and looking ahead.  Well, as it turns out, this year, it didn’t take much planning.  In thinking about last years resolutions, I realized that I never gave them a fair chance.  But they were good resolutions.  So…. I decided to just re-cycle them for this year.

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Seems like either a cop out or asking to fail again, doesn’t it?  Well, it could be either.  But the thing is, they get at ways that I do want my life to change, although perhaps not always very precisely.  I think I didn’t work on them more deliberately because I’d either misstated what I really wanted, or I’d failed to realize that some other changes were necessary first.  And some of those necessary changes did happen.  So perhaps I’m not re-using last years, so much as re-stating and re-newing them.  So here they are:

1. Work on Reading List:

2008:  I didn’t read a single  book from the list.  Ouch!  But I did read a few other things.

2009:  Accept that my reading priorities change over time.  Keep updated list on goodreads.  Watch less t.v.  Read more.

2. Work on Books to Purchase List:

2008:  This list never even got published.  I got bummed out about not having more spending money.  But I did save up enough to invest in this fabulous and inspirational book!

2009:  Money is tight these days.  But books are important.  I still want this one from the Corning Museum of Glass. And this, too, which is at the top of my to-read list.  After that, we’ll see.

3. Work through The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp and blog about it when something interesting comes up:

2008:  This also got no time last year.  But it deserves it, so…

2009:  I’d like to try to post on this at least once a month, either an exercise that she suggests, or something I’ve already put into practice, or whatever.  I think this would help me buckle down and be productive.

4. “Coffee time” at least once (eventually twice) per week:

2008:  Again, I never even did the follow up post.  In a nutshell, it was about dedicating some alone time each week to reading, drawing, and planning. Realizing that I never had either the time or the mental energy to do this motivated me to make a change at work in August. Now I have more time and am less drained by the day job, but less money, so spending “quality” time in a coffee shop still doesn’t happen very often.  So….

2009: I realized that it can’t be about whether or not I’m sitting in that perfect, most comfortable corner of my favorite cafe, with the perfect latte, made by my preferred barrista.  I had a host of excuses for why I wasn’t dedicating the time and doing the work.  While certain routines and rituals may have worked really well in the past, I have to work with the circumstances at hand now.  And it’s the work and the dedication that’s important.  Not the old rituals.  I might have to find new rituals.

5. Open an Etsy shop:

2008:  Well, I did do some work on this, but it too, didn’t come to fruition.

2009:  Now that I’m settled in to the new job, and in a frame of mind to buckle down, I think this can happen.  Heaven knows, some extra income would be fantastic.

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In many ways these are small things.  And there are larger changes I want to make.  But why make big resolutions, if I can’t even get the little ones together?  And sometimes small things make the big things easier.  So, hopefully, 2009 will be about buckling down, getting the mental space I need to make change, and focusing on doing instead of wishing.

taking credit

frosty-sunrise-2

It seems like a lot of folks shy away from having resolutions, because it’s all too easy to dwell on the things we didn’t do, the things we didn’t accomplish, the ways in which we failed.  So, in the spirit of refusing to look at things in terms of failures, I want to acknowledge some things I did accomplish this past year.  Things that I never could’ve predicted.  The resolutions I’d have made if I’d had a crystal ball.  The gold stars for the fridge.

The One-a-Week Project:  The single most satisfying creative thing I’ve done this year.

Keeping in touch:  I’m doing a better job of staying in touch with folks.  Still need a lot of work on this, and some folks are still getting neglected, but I’m doing better.  I even joined Facebook.

lunch with Dad:  I’ve had lunch with my Dad once a month since my birthday last May.  This might not seem like much to some people, but for me it’s huge.  He’s been great at being supportive and helping me be more forward thinking.  Thanks Dad!

job change:  Though I still work for the same employer, I’ve moved to another department and cut back my hours.  The fewer hours is a mixed blessing, since it means less money, but I’m really trying to make the most of the free time I gained.  As for the switch of departments, lets just say that I went from a soul-crushing situation to one that challenges me without stressing me out.

cut down on input/stimulus:  This is also still something I’m working on, but progress was made.  I’m down to only 75 feeds I follow in bloglines, and I’m watching less t.v. when I’m just plain tired.  This one has been hard, because I’m curious and interested in many things, but as a continual goal to work on, well worth it.  I’m just better with less buzz in my head.

improved photography:  Through specific projects like the One-a-Week challenges and What I Wore Today, as well as just plain screwing around, I’ve gotten much more comfortable with my camera this year.  I’m much more able to produce photos I’m happy with that require little or no doctoring.

holidays/winter outlook:  Last holiday season was pretty hard for me.  It was the first year we were too broke for gift giving, and it really bummed me out.  This year, the economy being what it is, was about the same, but my perspective on it was better.  Because I didn’t expect myself to spend a bunch of money, it wasn’t so hard.  I’ve put real effort into enjoying the season and I think my efforts are paying off.  My x-mas tree (our only splurge) is even coming back to life!

signs-of-life-3

next on the docket:  those resolutions (at last!) and a round up of what’s going on with One-a-Week.

Out with the old

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In the spirit of starting as I mean to go on,  I have been:

Thinking about last years resolutions,

Thinking about this years resolutions and how to stick to them,

Trying to give myself credit for un-predicted accomplishments,

Thinking about the TOP TEN STUPID THINGS that keep me creating/ blogging/ getting things done,

And best of all working on a few projects!

Details of all of the above will follow.  You never know what will happen, but this feels like an auspicious new beginning.

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Pondering

As you might have deduced, my energy for the WIWT project has flagged a bit. I missed a few days of taking photos and them I had a few days of really wanting to wear these again. And again. So I think that’s a sign that it’s time to focus on that series some more. So WIWT is on semi-hiatus for now. Which means I’ll finish posting the pics I already have at Flickr, and I’ll still take photos when I’m moved to wear something I haven’t shown you before. I fully expect WIWT to have a few more rounds in the future. But I’m going to try to define something new to focus my energy.

Here is one possibility:

via CRAFT

Garth at Extreme Craft has a book project. I’m thinking that something related to my One-A-Week Project: Week Four might be an appropriate submission. Even if your plate is full right now, check out his blog. There’s always something fun and inspiring.

The New Plan

Thanks so much to everybody for the birthday wishes and for continuing to let me know your favorites from the One-a-Week projects. I feel like this old blog is finally beginning to hit it’s stride and I’m glad to have you all along for the ride! 🙂

Well, gosh…without a strict project schedule, my posting rate really drops off, doesn’t it?

So, to recap, what did I learn from the One-a-Week project?

  • a self-imposed deadline, when publicly announced, can be just as good a spur to me as one imposed from the outside
  • composing a blog post can help define an idea and move it forward
  • if I just think about an idea, I don’t have anything to ‘show’. All ‘tell’ and no ‘show’ doesn’t make for a very interesting post, so blogging helps get things out of my head and into a physical form
  • limits are really helpful in finding focus. Imagining someone else judging whether or not a piece addresses the challenge at hand makes it easier to make decisions and changes more quickly and deliberately
  • ideas can always be revisited, but it helps to have a well defined time-period to play around with them
  • a self-evaluation can help define what I need to work on if an idea merits further time. It can also bring closure to a project in order to move on to something else.

So let’s see…how about a new project/plan?

In the past few weeks, I’ve had about six or seven projects marinating in my head, and I think it’s time to prioritize and focus on them one at a time. I want to get these projects to be more refined than the One-a-Week pieces, most especially more wearable and saleable. So here’s how I want to try to achieve that:

  1. Each project will get three weeks of work, starting on a friday with a project announcement, and ending two fridays afterward with a finished piece. As with the One-a-Week project, wrap-up may spill over into the weekend, but the piece should be done and photographed, and the new project should be announced.
  2. There should be at least three posts each week, two concerning progress on the project, and one non-project related post. I hope that two project posts/week will keep me moving along at a pace that is sustainabIe long term and I have a small backlog of drafts and ideas on miscellaneous things that would be great to clear out a bit.
  3. At the end of three weeks, there should be a finished piece or project. It should be wearable (and saleable if appropriate) or complete whatever the particular requirements are decided upon at the beginning.

I am less decided on what the time frame should be for making multiples (when appropriate) and actually putting them up for sale. Clearly those are questions that still need answering. I think that it is unreasonable to think that I can work on one project while also making multiples of the previous project. I’m supposed to be working on focus here, after all. Perhaps multiples and posting for sale will end up being the in-between projects project. We’ll see. There is still an element of ‘flying by the seat of our pants’ to this, despite all my efforts to be disciplined. There always is….

So, the next project is….

To create a piece of jewelry to wear to my sister’s wedding which compliments the Liza Reitz tunic/dress. It’s an olive green cotton jersey version of the batwing tunic with knottted collar. You can also see it in her recent collection lookbook here. (Click on the lower right corners of the images to move through the collection. It’s all just beautiful!!) I’ll post some photos of my tunic and a few ideas that I’m starting with over the weekend. Lets call this project #7, since this feels like a continuation of the one-a-week’s, rather than a starting over. Looking ahead…

Project #8 will be to get an etsy store up and running. I have a small inventory of glass pieces from last year, as well as some lampworked beads (which may get their own shop), so there’s no reason not to get the shop(s) up and running so that new work can get posted as it gets made. Hopefully, like the blog posting plan, this will be a motivator to help me get things done.

Stay tuned….

One-a-Week: which was your favorite?

One-a-Week: which was your favorite?, originally uploaded by kaitschott.

1. Week One, 2. Week Two, 3. Week Three, 4. Week Four, 5. Week Five, 6. Week Six

I’m curious to know which week’s project was your favorite and why?

Links above will take you to each week’s photoset over at Flickr, if you need to refresh your memory. Or you can also use the links at the One-a-Week page, tabbed under the header.

Votes/comments can be left either here or on each week’s set page at Flickr.

One-a-Week Three: the value of ritual

I thought I might not post until three, but rituals help keep me moving. So for the morning skyline, my morning coffee, and the state of my work table, head over to Flickr.

Stay tuned….

For more on the challenge, see individual photos in this weeks photoset
or all the One-a-Week Three posts here.