Thursday, July 22, 2010

Designing With Intention vs Tension in Design

"rules are meant to be broken" has been a motto that works for me... umm... somewhat. but about a million years ago in another life i learned a rule that should never be broken. the (so called) first rule of dance is to move with intent. in other words, find your intention, your connection to the driving concept behind the choreography, so that you can clearly project it to your audience. dancers are limited to three tools: their bodies, the music and costume. the body is the only tool that a dancer is in control over and intention is the soul of their expression. 
i nearly fell off my chair when i read scoutie girl's "we scout wednesday" posting on handmade vs homemade and why it doesn't matter what you choose to call it. what matters is the intention behind it. talk about coincidence! my planned post for the day also involved the importance of intention. how does "the first rule of dance" apply to design you may ask? well...what's behind a design? is it an exercise in stretching the maker's technical reach? an exercise in moving stock? working with a set palette of pantone colors chosen by a group of elderly men that we are all beholden to?
those are all valid reasons for design...i suppose. in dance we call these exercises technique and virtuosity. they are not to be confused with the heart and soul of dance. the joy of it. with art and magic. technique exists to train the muscle memory to respond in the correct way when called upon. virtuosity is a testament to how high you can reach - how far you are able to stretch to attain perfection. i think of art as a transformation of materials or concepts into a finished work - something from nothing. 
as amazing as virtuosity is, it doesn't necessarily make you feel what the dancer is feeling. it is tension for the sake of aesthetic perfection. your story, your emotions, your truth are as important as the quality of your product. the why of it needs to be put out there. do you make to survive? let me see how hungry you are through your work. do you love what you do? show me the love.

call me eccentric but i fully believe that what you feel and think while you are making your art or crafting your wares comes through in the final product. i no longer seek to project my intention on stage but i do try to project it onto my work. every piece that comes out of my studio is made for a queen in my mind. i make my intended client the most important person in the world the whole time i hold their piece in my hands. i am in love with the materials themselves and make the manufacturing process a joyful one - never, ever do i let thoughts or troubles of the day intrude. 

i want you that joy to  be apparent in my work when you receive it. to be thrilled with it no matter how big or small. that is my intention at least. maybe the answer for me is finding the right balance of constantly reaching for dynamic tension - stretching for technical perfection while maintaining the soul's intention.   

photo credits: howard schatz

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

balancing work and play the DIY way

i have recently fallen in love with scoutie girl's amazingly engaging blog, especially her series on growing your business/family/life/garden which features great playing in the dirt metaphors. readers are encouraged to take the plunge past the research stage of a self-taught skill and get down to the dirty business of growing creatively. tara of scoutie girl is talking my language...risk, innovation, just taking a running leap over the edge of known territory.
but isn't it easy to loose that playful enthusiasm for experimentation when creativity is mixed with money? can work and play happily coexist? the stark fact that i am beholden to the books can mess with my ability to let go and get dirty. truthfully, the $ aspect can introduce a sense of fear into the way i think about stretching my own creative boundaries.
all of my public work right now is self taught and i sometimes find the need to remind myself to trust in my prior learning and life experience. from pro classical dancer to water conservation officer to waitress and everything imaginable in between, its all valuable and it all applies. i try my best to to use every resource that i've already invested in without fear or apprehension and to believe in my ability to reinvest wisely into my business. nothing ventured, nothing gained, whatsoever. and i am so thankful for all of the support that i've gotten along the way. thank you too, dear reader.
i think that self-taught can often equate to high risk because you are in effect transferring what you would pay for an accredited education into a *much* higher investment of time, higher potential for mistakes, lessons learned in practice rather than theory and no outside authority to direct learning outcomes - just little old you. if you are running a business, this method is a huge responsibility to take on but oh so very rewarding in the end. self reliance feeds back into the business/family/life/garden that build our most treasured experiences.

photo credit 1/2/3/4

are you self-taught? how do you balance your learning and practice? do you feel that work and play can happily coexist?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

water, water, everywhere

day after day, day after day
we stuck, nor breath nor motion;
as idle as a painted ship
upon a painted ocean.
water, water, everywhere
and all the boards did shrink
water, water, everywhere
nor any drop to drink

check out poppytalk handmade's oil spill response market, where you'll find 69 contributors who are donating the proceeds from at least one item at their virtual table to oxfam america. dare i say that donating has never been easier? just feast your eyes on this stuff. yum...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Last Chance For Our Rolling River Soap Company Giveaway!

Its Friday and nearly time to choose a winner for the Rolling River Soap Company Giveaway! Normally I am not covetous, but in the case of the four bars of glorious handmade soap that Jessie Gibbs and Zenith Lillie-Eakett of Rolling River Soap Company have tucked  away for one lovely reader to enjoy, I am covetous indeed. These soaps are likened to bars of pure hand made gold ladies, so please don't be shy to step right up and leave a comment to enter.  

If you are interested in the two fabulous and bubbly (sorry) personalities behind the Rolling River Soap Company, grab a cup of tea and stop by for a visit. You can find their story here:!/note.php?note_id=170853098344 

And seeing as how I'm showing off my covetous side, how do you like my Japanese hinoki wood dream bathtub? I've been ever so slowly learning how to make one of these babies. Slow is key here because I have a feeling that once I get in to the tub my Rolling River soap and I are never coming out.