I could make that!


if there is one phrase in the English language that has gotten me into more trouble than any other, it is “i could make that.” You have to say it in a variety of tones of voice, to get my meaning…say it scoffingly, and that is me standing in gift shop in front of a clever picture frame, or a poorly executed gift idea…say it with regret and that is me when I see someone making a million dollars with an idea that has played with the edges of my mind, say it with excitement, and that is me in the midst of a creative surge, where everywhere I turn is a seed of an idea that I could make–except I could make it better

This phrase is the impetus for me scouring the internet and local area for materials and supplies to make whatever has fleetingly caught my attention…my storeroom filled with crates of assorted papers, stamps, jewelry findings, beads, feathers, leather, glass scraps, canvas, paints of all kinds, wax, glues, and fabrics…oh, and dyes, wool roving, yarns, a variety of knitting needles, and a spinning wheel…and this doesn’t even begin to list everything in my clay studio. Yes, I have an addiction…i love raw materials…

trouble…how could this be trouble?, you ask…it sounds very exciting to be in the midst of creative energy, on the brink of new discovery and all of that…and it is, but…well, have you ever woke up wearing someone else’s cowboy hat? stepping on shards of memory, on your way to the bathroom, pieces of just how much fun you had the night before, lighting up your brain like so many flashbulbs? …and in the light of day, its …well, it doesn’t live up to how great it was going to be when you started?…in fact, its a bit embarrassing?(strictly a rhetorical question…put your hands down)

“I could make that” is a bit like that…it starts out with such good intention, like the time I decided to make Tasha’s prom dress…and ends up abandoned on the table, with me looking back at it with a stranger’s eyes…”what a mess! who did that!?” Or the time just recently, when I decided Nina and I should make Tasha’s graduation present – at 10:30 pm the night before graduation, there we were, sprawled on my kitchen floor, hammering letter stamps into metal blanks for a necklace.

But lest you think that ALL my endeavors end in disaster, I will say that a good many of them turn out well! Because really what fun is life, if you are afraid to try something you might fail at?

home again…

i have been out of reach for a few weeks- my laptop’s battery and charger both died in the same 24 hour period and i was without a computer…omg. it was like being without my car, or away from home for an extended length of time.  I was kyping Michaela’s laptop when i could, but it felt awkward, like i was a guest in someone’s home, and I couldn’t relax, couldn’t write… thank god my charger came in the mail today, and I am home again on my Mac.

So i have been taking an online class this month, its called Emerge.  I registered for it months ago, when i realized i was turning 50 this year.  Its about navigating a transition in your creative life.  Every day there are assignments to do that challenge you.  One day there was one about breathing, another day there was one that assigned you the task to take 3 photos – one of something beautiful, one of something wild and one of something changing.  There is discussion with the other members of the class.  Amazing strong women…   Transition takes many forms.  There are those who are going thru a divorce, or an empty nest, a child being born, buying a home, starting a business, ending a business.

Today our assignment is LISTS.  We are to make 3 lists:

Obsessions and preoccupations:

  • books
  • old letters and postage,
  • handwriting,
  • fonts,
  • maps,
  • voyages,
  • beautiful handblown glass- clear with color running thru it,
  • beads,
  • layers and layers of things showing history,
  • time travel,
  • artifacts,
  • untold stories,
  • keys,
  • true love,
  • portholes,
  • old houses,
  • anything with a story

What I know:
i know how to

  • handle a crisis,
  • friend someone,
  • listen,
  • look thru someone,
  • make a master schedule,
  • throw a pot,
  • fire a kiln,
  • clean the fridge,
  • raise a child,
  • be flexible,
  • let go of someone,
  • make bread and chocolate chip cookies,
  • live on a $1 for a month,
  • change a fuel pump,
  • spin yarn from wool,
  • build a webpage

What I don’t know:
I don’t know how to

  • split firewood,
  • make it rain,
  • grow a garden,
  • eat less,
  • build a deck,
  • program a universal remote or hook up stereo speakers,
  • make cotton candy,
  • write a book,
  • put the ‘tab’ key-top back on my keyboard,
  • make you hurt less.

My lists surprised me… well, part of it- i knew my obsessions 🙂  But the ‘what i know’ and ‘what i don’t know’… those were interesting.  I felt that the things i didn’t know were inadequacies in me (even tho that I would say to someone else that these are ‘opportunities to learn’)

What are your lists? I would love to hear about them!



stuck…in creative silence

a few years ago Tasha, my middle daughter, gave me a case of blue glass bottles for Mother’s Day…”what?” you may be saying…”what kind of a Mother’s Day gift is that?!”  Perfect for me!  I absolutely love cobalt glass, and the idea of a case of bottles to play with was exhilarating!  So i set to.  i came up with this marvelous idea of decorating them with wire, and beads, and making them holders of ‘messages’.  I was so excited! I bought corks, and special paper, thread to bind the messages into a scroll to put into the bottles, wax to seal the cork…it was a fabulous idea.  And i finished the wire and beads on one bottle, admired it…hmmm…what to put on the “message”…? I struggled with that for a few days, and decided to go on to another bottle, confident that the “message” would come to me.  Another finished, and no message…another…no message…another…no message.  Well, you get the idea.

So now i have this collection of wire/beaded blue bottles…they are beautiful, they sparkle in the sun…but they are empty.

Yesterday (2 years after i have begun this project, lets keep in mind) i got out one of the bottles.  Determined to finish one of them, i put it on the table with materials to make the message and seal it into the bottle…and there it sat…all day.

Late last night, with the bottle still sitting empty, i realized that I am afraid…afraid to put the wrong message in there, afraid that what i think is of substance to write and seal into a bottle isn’t valuable to another…and so i wait for the perfect message, while the bottles gather dust.  Why does it matter what someone else thinks of my message?

Isn’t this blog, essentially a message in a bottle?  It is.  And I have become braver every day here…its practice…and watching my blog grow in audience, and reading the comments.

Being stuck creatively…i think it might be fear that ‘sticks’ us…the key, it would seem, is to find out what you are afraid of.  Maybe these questions will help.

  • If I move to the next step in this project, what is the worst that could happen?
  • What kind of a mess could I make, if i don’t do this “right”?
  • Who would love this piece?, who would hate it?

so today, i am setting the task of writing the first message, and sealing it into the bottle…i will let you know how it goes.

Update: Here is a link to the finished product in my etsy shop

Message in a bottle

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