Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hitting that wall

"Let the river take it all away."

Today for the first time in more than four years I took a breath. Oh I know, I've been inhaling and exhaling all that time. But this was different.

I first picked up a mandrel and would liquid glass around it on March 2, 2008. And since then, I have been consumed, driven, to make beads every chance I got. And since I was a member of the employed up until July 29, 2011, that meant evenings, weekends, stolen sick days, holidays. Always juggling my sacred bead time with family time. I pretty much gave up everything else, volunteering at the SPCA, going to the movies, reading.

I'm so grateful to my husband, who, as he said, understands passion. Although perhaps he has been a bit of, um, an enabler, because while I vacillate over whether or not to buy $100 worth of glass, he is spending large multiples of that amount on his own passion. Which is part of the reason I have something like 300 lbs. of glass out in my garage studio. And it could be more but I'm not weighing it. I don't want to know.

In the beginning I bought glass by the rod, in samplers and at times a whole 1/4 of a lb. Nowadays I almost never buy less than 1/2 lb. of anything and if I'm pretty sure I will like it, or know I do, then 2 lbs. makes me feel like I have enough that I can actually melt some without fear of running out. Some colors, such as Opal Yellow and Silver Pink, I might have as much as 5 lbs. on hand and I have anxiety if I get below that threshold. And if you added up all the different shades of pink glass alone, I suspect we are talking about 50 lbs. Well, there are a lot of shades of pink. And it is my favorite color.

But about that breath. For some reason I always seem to know what I want to melt next and even as I spin one bead my mind is racing ahead to what I am going to do with the next bead. Or ten. I also tend to get obsessed with a design. The day I made my first fish bead I made eleven. For a while it was cats, Then owls, because people thought my cats looked like owls, so why not give them wings and beaks? And then there was the goddess addiction. I bit the bullet and finally made one and the next thing I knew I was cranking them out in every color. With tattoos. With trailing vines and flowers. Draped in shards.

And I learned something about goddess beads. People don't buy them. At least not mine. Some people actually are offended by them. Bead porn means something else to lampworkers, but a shop that carries my beads has heard comments along the lines of obscenity and perversion. The proprietor's response was, then I guess you won't be going to the fine arts museum any time soon. Or Florence. Classic.

So I lost my interest in goddesses a  hundred or so in, and now I have all these beautiful beads that I can't sell and that by even offering them for sale, I risk tainting my other beads because of my perceived nefarious aesthetic vision. And I can't donate them to Beads of Courage, or give them as bonus beads with purchases. So I will take them to the Gathering for swapping with other bead makers, who have the good taste to appreciate the human form.

Lately I've gone back to making giant florals. I made florals, then didn't make florals for a long time, then felt like making them again. And when I get on a kick, I have no problem with spending 20 minutes on a bead, garaging it and making the same style again. And again. There are always creative differences, colors, layers, vines, no vines, shards, no shards, murrini, no murrini. And when I am ready for a change of pace, I make one of my signature silver glass beads that provide me endless satisfaction and a jewel-toned array of colors.

Oh sure, sometimes I take mental inventory of my actual bead inventory, which somehow migrates into just about every empty space in the house. Nature abhors a vacuum, truer words were never spoken. And I beg the question, what the hell am I thinking, why am I making so many, many beads. Because the call of the torch is strong. And it is the journey. I love melting glass. Love love love it.

Except today I hit a wall. A wall where I didn't know what I wanted to make next. Where I had to talk myself into keeping going instead of talking myself into stopping. I've hit a rut before, but never a wall. Where the thought of making yet another giant floral had lost it's appeal, the bloom was off the rose so to speak. So I made some spacers until I had used up the mandrels on my bench. And shut it down. For today anyway.

And who knows, maybe tomorrow I will wake up with visions of sugar plums as interpreted in hot glass art. More likely than not, my mind will once again overflow with ideas for new and better beads. Maybe I will finally crack out that borosilicate glass that I have been afraid to work with, mostly because I fear I will like it, and then what am I going to do with 250 lbs. of soft glass. But one way or another, I expect I will get back on the silicon dioxide horse. I breathe, therefore I bead. I bead therefore I breathe. And after all, tomorrow is another day.

"Now we're back in the fight, we're back on the train, yeah, back on the chain gang." Chrissie Hynde


KittyKat said...

Lovely look into a beaders soul. If I only had your talent. Alas, I must enjoy them from the jewelers perspective. Thanks for being there for us!

Chelsea Bunn said...

Maybe you'll return to your first love, writing. Or rather, blogging?

I have been very into apples and robots lately though, if you're looking for an assignment. :)

Cathie said...

This is very moving Liz, and your feelings are quite similar to those a writer experiences - at least I do, so I understand quite well that sudden blank you mention - all I can say is, when you have that passion in you, it does not last for long. Good for us that you have another great talent to share in the meantime! Enjoy that breath! And thanks for all the beautiful things you show us on fb!

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz