Monday, July 1, 2013

Didn't I used to have hobbies?

Vamps for the "Walking with our Sisters" Project

For "Primp my Nest", an auction at Eastern Edge Gallery
In articles I read on the "entrepreneurial life", the trending phrase seems to be emphasized is the "importance of the work-life balance".  This refers to the struggle, when you work for yourself, to also have time to and for yourself that is not spent on work-related activities.  I get it.  In theory.  In reality however, if I'm not making jewellery, I have immense trouble allowing myself to work on other projects.  Some projects cause me no grief at all.  The computer, for example, very slyly sucks up my time and does not cause me guilt.  It probably should more than it does.  I can also settle into a good book for hours, and nary a guilty thought crosses my mind.  But, if I should ponder that unfinished knitting project, or the table loom that's gathering dust; the clay that is hardening from neglect, or any other of a myriad of hands-on activities, I just can't commit to tackling them.  It feels to me that my creative energy should be exerted solely on working on my jewellery, lest it be wasted or somehow run out if misused.  For some time, this guilt has felt all right; I should be spending lots of time making jewellery.  But as I find a balance in my production level that satisfies my current market demand, I'm realizing that if I continue to resist the urge to create other things, that are not jewellery, that there is a nugget of resentment that I fear will only grow, towards my jewellery practice.  So recently, I've found a compromise that satisfies, for now.  I've made a couple of projects in what I will call my "non-professional materials", for auctions or exhibitions in support of causes I feel strongly about.  This has alleviated my "makers-guilt" in two ways.  Firstly, I do like to feel I can support certain causes, but as an entrepreneur, I just don't have the financial means to satisfy that desire to the degree that I would like.  Secondly, I have other skills beyond jewellery-making that I like to explore, and these projects give me an outlet to do so.

Underlying this solution is a whole other can of worms that I won't get into extensively here, surrounding the requests that craftspeople and artists often receive for donations of their work in support of a charitable or fundraising, activity or group.  Some of the worms in the aforementioned "can" advocate for the donating of the talents we have for the greater good, no holds (worms?) barred.  Some other worms hold firmly to the belief that nobody's skills (or the resulting product of those skills) should be expected, or therefore given, for free.  In between these two viewpoints are the rest of the worms that hold a range of opinions accommodating one viewpoint or the other to greater or lesser degree.  I'm of the belief that everyone's entitled to arrive at their own solution to the "donation conundrum", to the best that the allocation of their time, and means, allows.

Last year's humpback whales for the annual Clay Studio Beach Firing

The viewpoint that I am currently selecting to embrace from all of this, is the option of submitting my work for charitable or fundraising purposes in a medium of my choosing.  I feel that this is still an indirect way of broadening my professional (read: "jewellery") network, and I get to spend time creating something I'm proud of without it feeling like "work".  The spin-off benefit I've found from this, (which is not all-together unexpected, since I am a self-confessed workshop-junkie in most any media), is that by working in different materials and pursuing different themes according to the project I'm submitting work to, lends itself to new inspirations that I can bring back to my jewellery bench.  And that is refreshing!

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