In September of this year the touring Bodywork exhibition, or to give it its…
PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Welcome to my new Crafthaus group. In this forum I will explore how artists who also have skills in other disciplines, art related or not, can harness and express our various talents through our chosen professional art form. If you are a painter, actor, musician, philosopher, botanist, or whatever, sharing the same body with the craft-artist in your mirror, you can combine these talents and express them through your work. If the possibilities of this interest you...let's get started.
First, let's define who we are. A "Renaissance man", or polymath, is someone who is proficient at many different skills, usually both arts and sciences. Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo, Pythagoras, and Ben Franklin to name but a few are great examples. These men set the bar very high because they were gifted, if not genuine genius, and were proficient in science, education, art, philosophy and sociology in their day. Without having to reach that high, I think a lot of artists are "Renaissance people" on a much smaller scale than such historic greats.
I am a silver sculptor, flutemaker & designer, published novelist, airplane pilot, parent/grandparent-guardian(underrated skill if ever there was), and amateur foil fencer. I have a passion for quantum physics and wrote my own theory on the origins of time. I've created web pages, stop-motion animation, edited films, written movie scripts & TV pilots and taught creative writing. I play a few instruments and sing in the shower. In past years I was an elected public official, fund-raised almost a million dollars for a library renovation, ran a presidential candidate’s local office, and fought the waste industry to protect my town. I've traveled the length and breadth of the Milky Way in my imagination and breathed in so much gold dust off my bench that my family will probably have my remains cremated by a refinery. One thing I'm not good at is being a commercial success in my own right (we’ll touch on that in a future post).
I’m sure if you wrote down your varied accomplishments and life experiences you’d have as busy a list as mine. The sum of who you are as an artist is much more than the work you do at your bench. Of course, our art already reflects who we are, but there is much more we can bring to our work. How to sizzle them all up in the same pan will be the challenge I put forward to this group.
I hope you'll join in and contribute to the conversation with your thoughts, ideas, experiences, and suggestions.
Well, the Christmas shopping season is officially upon us, even though the blitz began a few moons ago. I’m new to planning production for this season because not many people order a handmade flute as a holiday gift and my jewelry has always been custom designed. This year I have my first bronze cast jewelry pieces ever and we’ll see what happens. The masters are made from chased and raised copper originals and I still couldn't resist telling a story (well, maybe only a little ditty) in this bracelet. Can anyone read the oh-so-subtle text?Continue
Ever take on a project that fit your style, talents and temperament only to discover that you may have grabbed hold of way more than you planned? I suppose, as artists, that’s part of the definition of our lives. We have sweeping visions of how our pieces will look and feel and speak and it’s our goal to fulfill that no matter what. But comes a time when I’m looking down the long view of what I’m doing and think that I might not pull it off. Ah, self-doubt. The primal motivator of all things mankind.My latest flute is a remodeling of an existing instrument that I’m chasing the story of “The Hobbit” into the keywork. I’ve created some nicely complex drawings and laid out a plan on how to retell the story entirely in imagery. The perfect blend of story and sculpture.The problem I face is that I have all the images chased and raised roughly but I’m losing control of some detail because they are so small. I’m trying to take these pictures…Continue
Hey folks,Here are a couple of NYTimes opinion pieces about artists in the marketplace.The first is about the awkward fit that many artists have in having to become sales reps for their own products (which I can totally identify with) The End of Quiet MusicThe second is about writers always being asked to give their work away, which is also common in other arts too. I have found it most prevalent under my novelist hat.Slaves of the Internet UniteI'm curious to hear your comments on them.Continue
A friend and flute colleague generously took my"Dryad's Kiss" flute to her recording studio and made an audio/video recording. So may I present Nina Perlove, flutist, teacher, video artist and polymath in her own rite. Continue
Here I am after another brief “I-can’t-believe-how-busy-life-can-get” hiatus.I’ve started 2 new silver chasing story projects: telling the King Arthur story on a decorative design and a Hobbit flute. I’ve been designing how to depict them and started making drawings and it reminds me of how many hours need to be spent on things that are never seen in the final project. The reason lies in authenticity.Authenticity requires research. Lots of it. As a novelist I spent 2 years living on a cruise ship, another 2 in an undersea science lab, 10 years imagining a post-apocalyptic San Francisco, and all of it without leaving home (even before the internet). Sometimes, I needed just one word of slang that might take me days to find to make sure the dialogue rang true. But without it, a character would be inauthentic and my readers would know it. In the end, even seasoned passengers were surprised to learn that I’ve never set foot on a cruise ship.The same thing goes for silver work. As I sit…Continue
Today I’m going to bow to one of our own Crafthaus and SNAG members, Victoria Lansford for her polymatherific work creating the book “Imagination Bodies Forth”.I saw this amazing piece of artwork at a repousse class she taught in Massachusetts this summer.This book took her 14 months to complete. It involved repousse, calligraphic lettering and endless hours to create all the collages behind the hand lettering on the inside. The repousse cover portrait was first drawn with Prismacolor on goatskin vellum. Just looking through it you can feel her labor of love rise off the pages like a perfume. It was intoxicating to feel, to know, that she created this work simply because she was inspired to do it.I won’t describe in further detail because she can do a much better job herself at Imagination Bodies Forth Webpage.…Continue
I keep straying away from the polymath art to the polysales stuff. I guess my thinking is that we gotta sell if we wanna succeed. But only half true because I can't measure my success only by what gets sold - only my solvency.So lets go back to the art and how to flourish in all our polymathic glory with this question: what inspires you? What art do you seek out when you need comfort? What books are your faves? What movies and music do you listen to while you work? And what do they all have in common? This may seem like a series of questions more suited for a dating site or "are you the coolest mop in the closet?" quiz but once you look at the choices you make, follow it up with this one: how much of it actually inspires you?I was wondering this as I wandered through a huge craft fair full of well made jewelry, textiles and wood and not much of it truly interesting or original. It all too quickly blended into the background. Just as so much music, so many movies and way too many…Continue
Once or twice a week I fence foil and epeé. I get suited up and sweat like an open faucet for a rigorous 2 hour workout. Every other day I do stretches, skip rope and practice. At my workbench I stand, not sit, for 5 and 6 hours at a stretch to do my chasing and silver work. None of this makes me stiff or sore.Yesterday, I spent 3 hours as a volunteer salesman talking to attendees and showing off the wares at an art show I have pieces in. Doing this makes me so uptight that my lower back hurt like hell and I went home with a stiff neck. My piece “The Shipwrecked Sailor” even won Best In Show For Metal Jewelry so it had a little ribbon and star next to it. I should have been proud and pleased to show it off. Instead, I had sweat dripping down my pits - the one place I don’t sweat while fencing. This was equally true when I’ve sold my own flutes - where I’d also get a bad rash that lasted for days.You might think that just working with the public is the problem. Not so. I’ve stood in…Continue
I wonder if it counts as a polymathism if you're chasing metal and breaking up fights with the grandsons while trying to get them to clean their rooms? It was nightmare of a weekend with two of them at each other's throats all the time while I'm trying to move metal, design a necklace and keep from ending their miserable lives (sigh). As the bard said, any day in a family where you aren't incited to murder is a good day (or something like that).I'm working on a "charm bracelet" flute where the owner has chosen a series of seemingly unrelated icons to be chased into the keys that represent different aspects of her family. Everything from a gymnast and horse to a kiln and even a carrot. It's a wonderful mishmash, like you would put on your Pandora bracelet. I think the polymath element to this work for me isn't just having it on a flute. It's in finding my center with each different image I've created so that I can bring it to life. Like a minstrel who has to sell each song they sing as…Continue
I'm sitting at a pub 40 miles from home waiting for an appointment with a possible jewelry client - someone I'm hoping will carry a new line of glories. I'm trying to use my imagination to create opportunities rather than rely on traditional venues like craft fairs and galleries and meeting with the bandleader of a touring bar band in the hopes of designing some pins and pendants for them to sell on their "merch" table along with their CDs and T-shirts. It's the first band I've approached and if it works, there is an unlimited stream of bands that come through town that might want the same.This is the kind of thing I mean when I speak of polymaths drawing outside the lines. My experience informs me that every local touring band is a) looking for ways to make ends meet, b) visiting one to two towns per week all year round and, c) sells their own CDs and products at their shows. What better than to have custom band fan jewelry?We all need to put disparate concepts like this together as…Continue