Wednesday, September 01, 2010


Today is September 1, and in the northern hemisphere the frenzied growth and action of spring and summer are slowing down. While autumn doesn’t officially begin until the equinox on September 23, it sure feels like fall – the leaves on the trees are turning color already, the days are growing shorter, and “back to school” sales are everywhere.

Everything appears dead or dying, yet this external appearance belies the action happening behind the scenes. Autumn and winter are seasons for the earth to rest and renew itself in preparation for next spring and summer’s bustling activity. Nothing will happen in spring if the earth doesn’t rest and renew in fall and winter.

What about artists, or any human being for that matter? We live in a “produce or perish” world…but I suspect it’s difficult, if not impossible, to continue producing without rest and renewal. In fact, I think constant production, without rest and renewal, can lead to burnout.

I believe allowing time and space for renewal is an essential practice for every human being.

Recently, I’ve been struggling with finding the time to melt glass. Many of the beads I’ve designed in the past year or so, such as my tulip beads and my fractal swirl beads, are labor-intensive, and take anywhere from 20-45 minutes per bead. While these beads ARE gorgeous, and I’m delighted to be able to make them, finding 2-3 uninterrupted hours for torch time has been a challenge lately.

I decided to consider making beads from a different angle: what if I make beads with simpler designs? I’ve found that I can make a decent batch of plain spacer beads, plus a couple of larger focals, in less than an hour.

My renewed strategy is to warm the kiln up in the morning, and bounce back and forth between my Mom/Writer duties and torch time – this enables me to get some much-needed fire therapy while still meeting my commitments to my family and my clients.

Pictured below is a bracelet I recently made, using lots of my simple beads and a few more complex beads. I love the way the colors play together!

Renewal takes many forms, and will be a different process for each individual. Renewal might be a re-assessment of your priorities, viewing a situation from a different perspective, or a refreshed commitment to who you want to be as a person. Renewal might be a hike on your favorite nature trail, a night out with friends, or a long bubble bath with a glass of wine and a good book. The most important thing though, is to give yourself permission to rest and renew.


Jeannie said...

I find it very frustrating when I have the inspiration, but no time to follow through with it.

And your right about giving yourself permission rest and renew. I'm still working on that.


Peggy said...

What beautiful pieces--the essay and the bracelet! You are such an inspiration to me, Chris!

Patty said...

Great idea to take mother nature's lead on the concept of renewal! Of course! And you got it - the "giving permission" part can sometimes be the most difficult thing. Thank you. :-)

Chris said...

Jeannie, Peg, and Patty, a thousand thanks for your kind comments! Yes, I too, am working on giving myself permission to rest and renew - I tend towards working on something, whatever it may be, every minute of the day. :)

Cindy Gimbrone said...

Hi Chris,

Love your bracelet. I've had the same thoughts with my work and its reflected in my bead offerings. I used to make painted beads yet they took a great deal of time to make. I have time pressures and wasn't able to be at the torch for a long time. I understand the balancing act, Chris and wish you well in your pursuit!


Chris said...

Cindy, thank you so much for your kind comment! I think I'd be better at keeping it simple if I wasn't so enchanted with making complicated beads, LOLOL.

Cindy said...

Chris, I have to say this post really struck a chord with me...the produce or perish in the art world! Lately I have just not had the time to create as I wish I could...and it is frustrating. Thanks for sharing here, it's good to know I'm not the only one feeling this way!