Saturday, February 15, 2014

Below Zero Beadweaving

It's been almost a year since I attended the Hello Etsy "Reimagine the Marketplace" event in NYC, and I continue to develop the ideas & practices that so inspired me while I was there - namely, thinking very locally, exploring new ways to ethically spend my money (I'm in looooove with airbnb) and tangibly throwing my support behind the communities I value.  In deciding to go, I framed the whole trip as an entrepreneurial improvement exercise, and my intention was to figure out how to keep my "I don't do anything like anyone else" ethic within the structures of our modern economy.  I was kind of blown away to discover that now's actually a great time for building new structures - and that being involved with Etsy put me on forefront one of them.  I made a lot of nuanced changes to the way I work after my weekend in the Big Apple, but the most substantial one to my design process was the building of a strong collection of smaller, more affordable pieces with the people who regularly support me in mind!  This incredibly long, cold winter has afforded me plenty of time to snuggle up under a blanket at the design table, and so I present to you the beginning of the next phase of backstagecrafts:

The goal is to have a run of earrings in every colorway in the rainbow.  ROY G BIV may have been the first acronym I ever learned, and now it might as well be a credo ; )
It all started with these.  Gradients are my bread and butter, so I tried making them on a single-serving sized scale (as opposed to the giant statement pieces on which I usually indulge myself). I had to make sure I could keep myself creatively fulfilled while delving into this new, tinier world.  Happily, I've really gotten into the challenge.

And of course, to maintain balance in my creative universe, I take a break from the the earrings now and again in order to go overboard.  Here's the start of what will eventually be an entirely beadwoven "backstagecrafts" sign.  I'd love to get into making beaded signage - for companies, organizations, individuals, etc - but it's such a unique & labor-intensive medium that I knew I'd need an example to visually explain myself to potential clients.  Plus, how amazing will this be at art fairs and trunk shows!?!?  I've got a long way to go, but I think I'll mount it an old piece of barn wood.  I love the idea of putting something this pristine on a slab of decaying lumber.  I've made about 4 dozen pairs of earrings since I finished this puppy, so I think it's almost "a" time...

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Your Chaotic Life Is Not a "Circus"

I've long held the belief that there aren't enough words in the world to convey the myriad and nuanced experiences and emotions we encounter everyday.  Subconsciously, I suppose, it may even have been one of the reasons I was so drawn to performance as a child.  Maybe I knew I needed more tools in my box if I were ever to communicate the crazy complicated things I wanted to say to the world.  To this day I agonize over the songwriting process because I know everyone will take away their very own meaning from my lyrics regardless of how personal or universal I try to make them.  It's my own battle with language - combined with a recent "aha" moment - that's resulted in the following PSA regarding some word usage you may never have thought about before:

I've been working in the world of Circus for more than seven years, and I finally feel like I understand what's going on.  I know the equipment.  I'm familiar with the celebrities.  I comprehend the artistry, and I even feel comfortable directing or overseeing it once in awhile.  More and more I'm being given extraordinary opportunities to represent Circus Juventas, the school in which I work, and it's given me the confidence to speak somewhat authoritatively on the subject.  I find it endlessly enjoyable to introduce new people to the world of contemporary circus, in particular, and I know how misunderstood and misrepresented Circus is in the larger culture - especially by the media. So, it was with some shock that I recently realized I'd never before thought about how negatively the word "circus" can be used.

AYCO's (American Youth Circus Organization) executive director, Amy Cohen, had given me some material to aide in a presentation I was researching, and in it she identified as one of the main problems with Circus' current image that the word itself is often used to describe "frenzied, out of control and corrupt activity" (Tim Roberts).  ...You probably just thought of the last time you did that, didn't you!?  I did when I read it.  Amy went on to list quotes from the President, his press secretary, and political journalists all using the word "circus" to derogatorily describe banking fiascoes, election shenanigans and even the media landscape itself.  Given my preoccupation with language, I was floored that I'd never before considered this word hijacking and, of course, vowed to stop.

I've been able to pursue my own personal PR campaign regarding the topic with a surprising frequency already.  Over the Christmas holiday, I had no less than three enlightening conversations with various family members about their use of the word.  Last weekend I attended the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, and was rewarded for bringing up the topic in a brainstorming session by a performer from Toronto telling me how sick the circus artists in her town were of the media calling Tom Ford a "clown" and his city hall a "circus."  Just now I was reading a BBC article about neo-Nazis trying to take over a town in North Dakota.  "It's a zoo.  We call it a circus of freaks," one resident is quoted as saying.  Turns out zoos have the same problem! 

All I'm saying is this: the days of fires burning down the tents of fly-by-night traveling circuses are over. There's no reason to continue applying the negative connotation to the word.  Being mindful is kindest thing we can do for one another (Golden Rule, anyone?), so I simply urge anyone reading this to think about why they choose the words they do - and to maybe find a more accurate description of the chaos in your life the next time you find yourself thinking it's become a "circus."  Unless you've got a trapeze rigged in your backyard and your kids are juggling at the dinner table, it hasn't.