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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Bears and Bears and Whale Tails? Oh My!

Something I've learned about myself is that every once in awhile it's important for me to kick start my creativity. If I work too long at one particular type of craft I find myself losing steam and it becomes harder and harder for me to come up with something that feels fresh. As soon as that happens I know I need to be poked in that part of my brain that comes up with new ideas.

Kickstarting isn't always complicated, sometimes it's as simple as buying a magazine and taking a look at what new products or trends are coming down the pike. Seeing another artists methods can trigger an idea, attending trade shows is an almost overwhelming stimulus to new ideas, but one of my favorite kickstarts is always classes or workshops.

A couple of weeks ago I went to Pennsylvania to visit Jean Van Brederode in her studio - Charmed I'm Sure. Jean was running a workshop on kiln enameling with liquid and powdered enamels. The finished project was this bracelet of polar bears. Once I saw the picture, I knew that I'd found my kickstarter!

Jean is the perfect person for visiting if you need a little inspiration boost. Her studio is jammed with the coolest tools, supplies and finished projects - you don't even need to do anything but sit there, you can't help but be motivated to create something. And Jean is a generous and patient instructor.

So, we watched a short video presentation about the project we would be working on, Jean gave everyone a printed instruction sheet, tool kit and all the supplies we needed for the bear project.

 We spent the next six hours learning about hydraulic presses, pancake dyes, kilns, enameling with liquids and powders and a host of other things related and not related to the project we were working on!

The process of creating the little bears was enough to get me percolating with ideas on what to make. I  knew that I wouldn't be happy making just one piece so I made sure to put holes in the sides and tops as well as making bears that faced in both directions. I also made a couple of bears with a tab on top thinking that they would make really cute necklaces. While I was at it, I made two whale tails just because Jean said I could!

At the end of the day I had a little pile that looked like this:

I gleefully drove home with  my little stash envisioning all the adorable things, rustic things, sparkly things that could be made with these delightful little copper bears!

The first thing I made was this bracelet - I love that it feels chilly with the cold and snow but sparkly at the same time - like the sun on snow. Glass is almost always my medium of preference so of course I had to have some white and clear lampwork beads in there and silver is the perfect shiny accent.

After that there was no stopping! I made several more pieces...

Two more bracelets and the necklace using one of the tabbed bears. AND.... I haven't even used the whales yet!

This was the perfect day for me - I seriously kick started my creative brain process, I learned something new, had a great day with a fun bunch of other creative people and made new friends - oh, and for a bonus, had a delicious lunch!

So the next time you're sitting in your studio pondering your pile of stash and drawing a blank - check out the internet - there are classes and workshops everywhere! If you live near Mechanicsburg, PA - go see Jean - she'll inspire you!
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