My customer loved my big green bear necklace, but wants a smaller version. So, little green bear!


…And maybe they’ll help you, too!

I’ve basically recovered from six weeks of ongoing agony this summer/fall. (Two back-to-back kidney stones and diverticulitis, ugh!)

The last stone passed a day before I was scheduled for surgery. I recovered enough to participate in this year’s Sonoma County Art Trails open studio event. Yay!

And yet I’ve felt blah ever since. Just not back up to snuff yet. (Why is something “up to snuff” a good thing? Inquiring minds want to know…) (Actually, not really.) I feel useless, irrelevant, unproductive, and purposeless.  Tired, down, unseen, unheard, unenthusiastic. I could go on, but you get the general idea.

I have a custom order in the works for a long-time collector back East, but nothing seems to be sticking in my brain for how to proceed.

I finally had some ideas for beads that might work for that necklace. I made several versions, put them in my convection oven in my studio, and fired it up. About 30 minutes later, I added more, and reset the timer. (It doesn’t hurt polymer clay to have it “cook” longer.) I couldn’t wait to see how they turned out!

I took them out of the oven the next day. And they were literally a hot mess. They looked like scorched blobs o’nothin’ much.

I freaked out. I thought the new Kato clay product, Kato “Blackout” polymer clay* I used as a bead base, had somehow leaked through the lovely colors I’d layered on top. Had I ruined every single batch of colors I’d made with it??

I went home with a heavy heart.

This morning, I found a great quote in my news feed:

“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” (Will Rogers)

Hmmmm…..that hit home.

I was ruminating about my miserable yesterday, and it was not helping. So I decided to get to the studio even earlier than usual, and get to work.

But the doldrums set in again. I puttered around, but couldn’t stop the ruminating. What’s the use? I don’t matter. Nothing I do matters. What do I have to offer the world? Nada….yada yada yada.

Then I got a notice a package I’d been waiting for had been delivered, so I took it as an excuse to leave, and high-tailed it back home.

The new (old) beads I’d ordered were lovely, and for some reason, they lifted my heart a little. So I decided to go back to the studio, if only to drop them off. And I’m so glad I did!

First, I made more beads without the “Blackout” clay, to see if that’s really what had made my previous batch look scorched. And when I put them in the oven, that’s when I realized….

On my second batch of beads the day before, I hadn’t turned up the baking time…

I’d turned up the temperature! (My oven is at least 20-plus years old, and some of the markings are wearing off.) They really were scorched! I literally burned those beads.

I reset the temperature, set the timer, and decided to call it a day, with a happier heart.

And on my way back home, I saw a minor accident along the road and was able to help everybody get back to their feet. (Literally!)

If I hadn’t come back to my studio, they would have been in a bad place.

So bead emergency solved.

Helping hands available to those who needed it.

And an insight that was perfect for me, today. (Yes, I’m feeling a little better!)

*Kato “Blackout” clay is a super-saturated black polymer clay to mix with leftover scraps. It’s so intense in color, I used half a bar to turn 5 pounds of scrap clay into well-conditioned, solid black clay! Read more about it here.

Kato Blackout clay

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.


  1. Luann, I read your words with so much sympathy. For a number of reasons, not excuses, I haven’t made any art for years. Today I learned that a dear lifelong friend had succumbed to cancer and I was devastated. For some reason I opened your post; I haven’t read you for months. It was so good to “hear” your voice, the smile you bring to my creative brain, the energy I get from your revelations and discoveries… your human honesty. Thank you for sharing ALL the foibles and fun of being a maker. It’s wisdom and emotion that transfers to so many parts of life. You are a philosopher who uses tools and materials to pass on life wisdom to us out here. Thank you. You are just what I needed this sad night. I feel happy to be alive.


  2. Aw, geesh, Luann! Glad you went back and got things straightened out. I never heard of blackout clay so you taught me something new today. Meanwhile I’m going to say something you probably know, but I often find I forget. We sensitives feel the world energy grids…So sometimes when we feel “down” and off it’s not US, it’s stuff out there that we are picking up on. Try Mary Shutan for a resource on that topic. Just know that the yuk you feel isn’t always YOU, but it can be that you are picking up other energies. Spiritual bathing is a good tool. Just remembering that could be what is going on can be helpful. Sometimes I find that is a good time to write and figure out what my body is trying to tell me. Feel free to totally ignore what I just told you if you want. Just know that there are many of us that feel this stuff, and learning tools to deal with it is hugely helpful. It can still catch you off guard sometimes. Much love and a big hug, Carla in Maine

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ignore you wonderful words?? NO WAY! I do appreciate the fact that being older means more time for recovery, AND I love your world energy grid motif. I will check out Mary Shutan. And a big YES for writing. I wasn’t sure I had anything except blorts to offer when I wrote this post, and that’s how I found my way through. THANK YOU for your thoughts today, very helpful!


      1. Ah, gosh. I am glad the words helped. Sometimes just knowing we aren’t the only ones who get these crap feelings is helpful to me. That and knowing that it’s not up to me to fix the whole world! (can you tell I can be overly-responsible!)LOL

        Blorts can be good…I blort quite a bit and admire that you are brave enough to share yours with the world. We can call it “blort-a-liscious”! Bear hug, Carla


    1. Kim, thank you for letting me know this helped YOU! It felt so selfish of me to whine about stuff when SO MANY people have it much much worse. And yet, everytime I do, when someone tells me they were in the same spot and this helped, I realize the value of what I do. Even when I’m blorting! big big hugs and wishes for a great day!


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