Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bead soup for the soul

"I give big, I give all and now it’s time to regenerate."

I wish I could show you a picture, but it will have to wait a bit. Today I mailed my bead soup "ingredients" to my partner Heather Otto. Heather's blog is called The Crafthopper and she is practically my neighbor since she lives just a few miles southwest of Austin. Once a year, Lori Anderson who writes a blog called Pretty Things organizes a bead swap that has grown to something like 500 participants. Lori pairs us up, we exchange beads (the soup), we each make something and on the designated "reveal" date, we post what we made on our blogs. The bead soup must include a focal bead and a nice clasp. Sending coordinating beads is optional but traditional. The recipient does not have to use those beads, just the focal and the clasp, and they may be used in one piece or two, along with other beads you may have on hand or choose to buy.

This is my second time to play and the first time my partner was Margot Potter, writer of the blog The Impatient Crafter, and in addition to making things with the lovely beads she sent me, I've gotten to know her a little through her blog and Facebook page. So my Bead Soup experience had a broader impact than just some pretty new baubles. Anyway, beads are in the mail and after Heather has them in hand, and I have the ones she sends me, I'll post pictures. I hope she is blown away when she opens my package and I'm looking forward to seeing what she does with my beads.

I'm also looking forward to seeing what comes out of the kiln tomorrow morning. I had a few days away from the torch, visiting my daughter and grandson, and I think that was a good thing. Because lately I find myself sitting at the torch trying to think of what I want to make and drawing a blank. The wellspring of ideas that burbled and flowed so much faster that I could melt glass has slowed to a trickle. There are storm surges, true, when I get excited about a new style, make beads in that style for a frenetic week or two, but then drought returns and the well ceases to babble. Then it feels more like I am wrestling with the glass than shaping it into objects of beauty. The knots in my back and shoulder ache and I find myself thinking that maybe I should look for a real job.

Last week I actually water annealed a bead, something I rarely do because I don't like to gunk up my water bowl. I'd rather anneal it and take it off the mandrel later, even if it is destined for the lake. This bead was just too hideous to go into the kiln. It was a costly bead too, it had silver leaf and silver glass and dichroic glass and I kept trying to salvage it by adding more decoration to it. Rule number 30 (I just made that up) in the lampworker's bible is that you can't make a bad bead good by adding more and more glass to it. If it's small enough, technically you can encase the whole thing and do something with it, but this bead was huge and getting huger. And making me sad, so into the water bowl it went.

Today I experimented with variations on the tube shaped beads I've had some fun with lately and I thought one of the last ones had potential, maybe even enough to spin off into something new. And if it does, that will keep me going for, oh, a couple of weeks at least. But I have the sense that it may be time to reassess my relationship to my glass art. It has been so all-consuming, for almost five years now, I've lived it and breathed it and dreamed about it. And that was great as long as I was learning and mastering more skills and feeling a sense of accomplishment. But it's been a long long time since I took my beads out of the kiln and said to Neil, I just made the prettiest bead I've ever made.

So maybe what I need is more balance in my life, to do other more things than chasing this glass dream so relentlessly. Take a few steps back, pace myself, read more, start working out again, go back to working with shelter cats. Blog more. Write more. Definitely write more.

Here's a look at the most recent style of bead I've been excited about. And if the new one turns out well I'll post a picture of it tomorrow.

"I give hard and serve hard and now I, I need a break
I give big, I give all and now it’s time to regenerate
Today’s all about me, all about cup filling
Today’s all about me, learning how, how to receive
How to receive."
(Alanis Morissette)

1 comment:

vovsblog said...

Stopping by visiting all the blogs taking part in the bead soup cant wait to see what you make!

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