STORMY WEATHER, SUMMER VERSION: Lessons From a Bunny

Reflections from Stormy Weather, a story I wrote 8 years ago, and still can’t read without crying.

I work well under pressure…even if I have to create it myself (damn it!)

I’ve had all these visions in my head for a wonderful new body of work for months. And now that I’m on fire with making them visible in the world, I’m running out of time.

To be fair, the delay wasn’t all my fault. I really was stuck. Couldn’t move forward. Too many technical obstacles.

Simply put, I want to create displays–permanent display cases–showcasing my artifacts and animals, including jewelry. I imagine them sitting on table tops or wall hung, each one a shrine. Collectors can use them as I make them. Or they can add their own favorite objets de mémoire et le désir, as many customers have done. (You send pictures, people! I LOVE that.)

Soon I was overwhelmed with questions:
Where do I get the boxes? Okay, make that affordable boxes?
What kind of boxes will work? How do I refinish or restore them to keep/create that old, worn well-used look?
What about the mounts? Despite taking a terrific online mount-making class, I still can’t solder brass. What about using the steel stands I already have? Wait–I need more! But they’re getting to expensive to have custom-made!!

Here comes my friend and mentor, Gary Spykman, to the rescue! (Gary’s new venture is here.)

I’ve been a guest in his workshop the last four months, and he’s helped me find the answers to all these questions. I’ve learned to size up a good box candidate, determine what it needs to get the right “look”, where to find the necessary products and tools, how to order the parts for steel stands and hammer them together myself. I’ve learned a lot, and look forward to…well, soldering brass pretty soon.

I never thought the damn polymer would stymie me.

I tried to put together a magnificent new animal sculpture. I had a vision, and I knew all the techniques. Surely that would be the “easy” part, right?

Nah.

It all came apart late last night. (Literally and figuratively.)

Yes, the pic is fuzzy.  I don't want you to see how badly broken the antlers are.

Yes, the pic is fuzzy. I don’t want you to see how badly broken the antlers are.

And again, to be fair, I’m working outside my comfort zone, trying new sculpture techniques, experimenting. Always scary territory for an artist, and one that probably shouldn’t be undertaken two weeks before the damn thing is due at the exhibit.

This morning I took as long as I could to check my email and surf my tribal forms (e.g., the forum at BeadCollector.net and Facebook.) But finally, I had to admit it was time to start over with new antlers. (Oops!)

As I mixed up more clay, I saw a funny scrap of raw clay on my worktable.

It looked like….a rabbit.

Tell me I'm not crazy--do you see the bunny??

Tell me I’m not crazy–do you see the bunny??

So I made a rabbit bead.

My first bunny bead, ready to "fire".

My first bunny bead, ready to “fire”.

Rabbits and I go way back. I’ve written many times about the life lessons my beloved Bunster has taught me.

And I’ve noticed that, in the world, so many, many times, the things people write about/rant about/resent/judge are the very things they carry so painfully in their own hearts. Myself included. This astonishing article about Debbie Miller and her advice about taking creative risks and daring to be our true selves–which she never took herself until recently–resonated with me today. Beautiful,powerful words–if only we could really hear them!!!

It’s like writing about these things helps US be brave. And hopefully, helps readers, too.

And maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe we can’t hear these words until the ground is ready to receive them.

So what am I writing about today?

I’m writing about not being afraid.

But I’m actually writing about being very very afraid.

Afraid my work will be judged (again!) by unhappy, vindicative people.
Afraid my work is just a bad, sad echo of people who are much further on the cutting edge of polymer than I will ever be.
Afraid I am not worthy of making the stuff I make.

And yet I have to make it.

And so the rabbit.

Lee’s words come back to me like a prayer:

“Quit reading about the fear!” he exclaimed. “Be ordinary! You are creative—make your art!” He bent over to stroke Bunster, and his voice became gentle again. “Be like your bunny. She’s fearful—but she has a place in this world…”

I have a place in this world….

My art, my writing, my buzzing brain, my restless dreams, my searching, searching, searching for what I bring to this world…and what will be forgotten as soon as I’m gone, my best intentions and my worst fears, my generous and gracious soul and all my many, many, many shortcomings…

All have a place in this world.

Sometimes it’s okay to be ordinary….

If it gets you to an extraordinary place in your heart, eventually.

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7 Comments

Filed under art, fear of failing, life with rabbits

7 responses to “STORMY WEATHER, SUMMER VERSION: Lessons From a Bunny

  1. I want to tell you how much I enjoy reading your posts. I found you by accident, and after reading a few archival post, had to join your email list to get more.

    For me, you have a gift of saying so much without going on and on. As artists, we have so many challenges that we share or can relate to, and I find that with your posts.

    Keep up the good work and thank you for all that you share.

    TH

  2. Great article! Love the bunny, looks like he is leaping fearlessly!

  3. Thank you for your honesty and your artistry. I find your polymer work and your writing moving and deeply truthful. That, to me, gives them a very special kind of beauty that is magical. And I love the bunny.

  4. Deb Sims

    Thank you again, Luann, for sharing these beautiful, meaningful thoughtsnwithbus.

  5. Glenda

    Luann. Again and again your words have come to me at the perfect time. I also have been struggling for awhile now with being afraid, not being good enough, being judged, not being ‘spectacular’, not being original – well, you know, the list goes on and on. I haven’t entered my studio in months but today, with your words engraved on my mind, I’m opening the door and going in. From the deepest part of me, thank-you.

  6. Charity

    Jeez, Luann, it’s like you’re my telepathic twin sister! It’s the most plausible (okay, well, most entertaining) explanation for how you always seem to be writing about the very things I’m struggling with. I read every post, and I probably should comment more (sorry about that), but this one just really… This is exactly the concept I need to get through my own thick skull right now. Thank you for being brave enough to let your sisters know that we’re not alone. I’m turning this into a mantra: “I have a place in this world.” And I’m going to repeat it until I believe it. Maybe I better set it to a melody. A really annoying one that I couldn’t get out of my head if I tried… Okay, now I’m trying to figure out how to fit that phrase into Call Me Maybe and if the words fit I could be forgiven, but they don’t so I might just have to shoot myself for introducing THAT particular torture. ~sigh~

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