Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Creative Itch

I like to do and make stuff with my hands, but I put my 10-year-old jewelry business on hold when we moved to Sweden a year ago (today!).  I have complicated relationship with jewelrymaking.  My tools and metal and beads went into storage, and honestly I was ready for a break. It was what I thought about when falling asleep at night, what I was crazy about on Pinterest, and indeed my jewelry sold like hotcakes at a wonderful shop.  My business isn't like most of the home-business moms I knew who could simply order more products when stock was low.  I had to spend hours in the studio to restock, and I don't mass-produce designs so it was a lot of pressure.  I loved working in my studio but it competed with family time and I was worn out.  Moving overseas gave me a chance to shift gears and focus on something else.

Vanity painted & dark waxed by Darlene Deal
Shuttling the kids to and from preschool, cooking dinner from scratch every night, and getting settled in a new home/town/country kept me busy last spring.  Then we had an impossibly gorgeous summer with lots of sun and not-too-hot temps that made me actually want to be outside.  Photography served as my creative outlet, and I enjoyed having free time to write, bake, and read.  Fall brought the start of new schools for the kids and new friendships and opportunities for me, so I added the walking group and group tennis lessons to my schedule.  It was so great to have structure to my week with built-in time to see people.  Meanwhile I discovered chalk painting online and spent (ahem) hours learning about it from Facebook groups and pinning pictures of yard sale finds that people had transformed, dreaming about how I would love to do the same. I even developed a business name and logo, which was another type of creative outlet I apparently needed. Yes, I could go to second-hand stores here, but it's not like they're full of Gustavian settees and Mora clocks; think Ikea cast-offs.  And then there's the issue of getting pieces back to the apartment on transit, finding a place to paint (dining room?), and storing it until it sells. Or doesn't. I'm really glad I got to scratch that creative itch by trying chalk painting and waxing when we were home for Christmas.  I still want to do it, but I'm okay to shelve that hobby until we move back to the States.

Fall is usually my busy time to make jewelry with the inspiration of the change of seasons and stocking up for Christmas shoppers, but I didn't have my tools and supplies here.  I did manage to make this bracelet for a gift exchange, and friends asked if they could shop from the remains of my stock I brought with me from the States, but I was thrilled to not have the pressure of production during such a magical season here in Sweden.  However along with my jewelry tools I was also missing the other craftiness that comes with Christmastime... sewing felt ornaments, making cards, baking cutout cookies.  Yes, I could invest in another set of cookie cutters here, or hand-sewing supplies, but it's not the same as walking into my studio and already having what I needed (or being able to find things inexpensively at a single store like Michael's). And I did bring back some jewelry supplies from our trip to the States, but I haven't gotten back into it except for custom orders.  Spring is usually when I get inspired enough to break through my winter slump, and we're not quite there yet. And along with my complicated relationship with jewelrymaking comes my inability to separate the hobby from the business. I'm not that enthusiastic to build a business here, only to move back to the States in a couple of years and lose my customer base. Sure, the internet helps facilitate selling jewelry to those far away, but nothing beats being able to touch and feel and try on a piece before buying it.

January and February were spent framing out our travel for the first half of this year.  It takes me days and days of research and planning and pestering my fellow expats, and it's a relief to be past that stage, to have a break before diving into the details as each trip gets closer.  I'm really excited to see other parts of Europe while we're here, especially the different kinds of architecture. During that planning time I came across this ad for a sketch and paint tour, which introduced me to the concept of urban sketching where people draw buildings and other parts of city life on location.

I love the look of a pen sketch with a little watercolor and found several artists to follow for inspiration on Flickr.  I did a bunch of drawing and painting in high school, but that was ten twenty years ago, but lately I found myself in this mental struggle between wanting to try it again and fearing that I'd lost my ability.  Ultimately it gave me an excuse to buy drawing supplies, and today is the first sunny day we've had in a loooong time, so after the walking group I sat out on our stoop with a mug of coffee and a pencil and sketched the building across the street.  After 20 minutes my hands got cold but it was a good start. Photography is so much faster and easier, but there is something to be said for really studying something with your eyes and hands, for being able to omit tram wires and street signs.

Last week I did a pottery workshop offered through the PTA, so while it was raining slush outside we got to play with clay in Hanna's beautiful, warm studio.  I wanted to move in!  I slab-built a mug and threw a bowl on the wheel and it was so much fun.  My bowl didn't stay pretty like it was here, but I hadn't thrown a pot since I was at camp in 1990 so I'm not surprised.  The other students the workshop are talking about taking classes from the local art college, and I love that idea except the teaching is in Swedish.  It's a good option for when I get a creative itch.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love that you are able to be artistic! Great blog!