I’m struck today by the many opposites in my environment and wondering how that context might fit into the design work. The picture at the left is analogous to hiding money under your mattress. The two nitrogen tanks filled with valuable embryos collected from our donor cows sits in the living room with the grand piano. If I thought it would make the embryos any more viable, I would play them special music. But the tanks were not placed in this room for nurturing, rather they are there due to the value of their contents.
While the idea of opposites in design work is not unique and today this thought might lead to pearls and metal in a piece, I’m gleaning a different message. Opposites (as opposed to opposition) may be good for the designer. For example, I’m a rancher by day and beader by night. When I’m covered in “it” from ranch work by day, I know that my opposite time will arrive after supper. When the designs don’t go well at night, I can remember my opposite day work and be thankful that at the least I accomplished feeding the animals and getting the data into the computer.
The dichotomous parts of our lives enrich each other. Certainly elements of shapes, colors and textures from my day creep into the design work at night making the pieces more interesting. On the opposite side, hopefully we will never find beads handing round a cow’s neck.
Do opposites attract? I don’t know; but I do believe that opposites are good for the designer. When I’m totally stuck on a design idea, I may go outside and throw the ball for the heelers or bottle feed a calf. Going in an opposite direction helps clear my head and free my mind for problem solving.
It’s not a secret. I love my Blue Heelers and although the puppies shown in the picture are gone, I still enjoy walking or playing ball with the older girls each afternoon. Today I was particularly taken by Frosty’s “never give up” attitude. She’s the dog on the far left of the picture. Even as an adult dog, she still believes that she can fly. When a large bird, usually a buzzard, looms over head, Frosty chases across the ground in an effort to reach it. Today, as the bird flew completely across the yard, Frosty ran as fast as she possibly could and I had to move out of the way to keep from being run over. At the end of each of these bird runs, she leaps high in the air in a last supreme effort to grasp the bird. I keep telling her that these efforts are foolish, but she just doesn’t get it. I can easily say that my wire working is a bit like Frosty’s bird chasing. I’ve been struggling with it for months now, working flat out until my hands ache in an effort to improve. Yet, like Frosty, I never can quite catch that perfect technique. Often, upon completion of a wirework piece, I sigh and admit that it is terrible, but like Frosty, the next time an idea arrives, I delve into it again. Shall I persevere like Frosty and keep working at this technique? The piece I did last night seems more pleasing than most have been. It does give considerable satisfaction to be moving closer to the mark, but will I ever FLY? If I keep watching my dog, rereading that children’s book, The Little Engine that Could, and continue repeating “I think I can, I think I can,” then I believe there is hope! Perhaps we can all FLY! (Thanks Frosty)
The sewing machine quit! I’ll admit that it has endured quit a workout making baby blankets, bibs, burp rags, etc. for Gabriel, our new grandchild. Yet, how could it fail me when I most need it? Yes, I realize that I haven’t oiled it in a year, but I needed it to work now! Of course, locating the sewing machine oil was another entire adventure in itself, but finally I secured it from the store (in the hundred years since I’ve purchased any, it now comes in a little tube rather than the trusty oil can) Following a thorough cleaning and oiling, that old girl hummed like a professional.
This episode made me wonder what “oil” a creative spirit might need. There certainly are times when I feel a bit “dried up” myself, but what makes me hum? While ideas usually abound, stress can certainly take its toil and there must be something that can be done to improve things. Occasionally, it is an hour of exploration in the magazine or book section at the local book store or library. Other times, the oil has been derived from a trip to Nordstroms to investigate color combinations in the clothing. A fabric store serves the same purpose.
What about using music? When I have pieces waiting for completion, clasps, buttons, etc. I use music by composer Pachebel and other baroque/classic composers which keep me working. It is sequential and repetitious in motif. But what about music for creativity? I’m still working on that one. I think that is less predictable than the aforementioned. At times creative oil comes from sheer silence while at other times, emotional vocals bring it. I’d be interested in knowing what works for other people.
Lastly, we deserve to be oiled from time to time! I used to and sometimes still do feel selfish to take the time to refuel. We’re all busy and since one of my ranch employees just resigned, things are unusually so here at Dreamcatcher. Yet, as I listen to Sugarland who is singing “. . . I promise I’m worth it . . . “, I realize, so am I!
The tree piece below is my symbol for oiling that creative spirit and letting it flourish and grow.