Thursday, January 28, 2016

a walk in the woods - with Julie of Uglibeads!

I was reading an old blog post of mine yesterday, about a series of beads inspired by the wilderness. And I got to thinking about inspiration and evolution, and how all the twists and turns in our lives ultimately lead us to something much greater than we could ever have imagined.

Follow Your Path bracelet bar by Erin Prais-Hintz

It's a bit like walking deep in the forest. You put one foot in front of the other, maybe watching out for fallen branches or holes so you don't twist your ankle. But until you reach a clearing, or a beautiful vantage point, you're not really sure where it is you're going.

Fall leaf pendant by Michelle McCarthy

I'm in a bit of a wistful mood these days. The end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016 brought me to some deep reflective places about my work, my goals, and where I want to focus my energy this coming year. I find myself struggling to keep up with all that goes into making a living as an art bead maker. You know - loving what I do, appreciating what I do, feeling grateful for what I do - while knowing that things could be better. Smoother. More peaceful. 

It's funny - when things get busy, the actual making of things is the first to go. Especially the new, exciting, experimental, untested, really creative things. Maybe if I'd had this guy in my pocket I'd have done a bit better - he looks like he has some magic to spare ;)

Fantastic Mr. Fox bead by Heather Powers

One of the things I've learned in life is that it's ok to pick things up, find beauty and meaning in them, hold on for a while, and ultimately let go. Objects, experiences, places, and people all weave themselves into our lives in complicated ways.

Beachcomber pendant by Mary Harding

There are times when you look down and find your hands full. Holding onto things. A lot of things. And you begin to feel the need to let go, to release, to make room for something new. I'm there, in that place. I need to put some things down before I can pick anything else up. And there are things within reach; new ideas, new directions I'm aching to explore, new skills to learn.

It's not easy to protect your creative time, but we all know that sometimes you have to make tough choices. Like letting go of good things (or great things!) to make way for unknown things. 

Scary, right?

Scored Sgraffito Focal Rice beads by Claire Lockwood

I try to be a very go-with-the-flow person. So when I get to a place in life that forces me to sit for a spell and think more seriously about what I'm doing and where I'm going, it's not comfortable. But I read the following quote (from astrology writer Rob Brezny) yesterday -

"As long as I live, I vow to die and be reborn, die and be reborn, over and over again, forever reinventing myself."

And I thought... YES. Because that's just the thing about creativity, isn't it? We create things, but in doing so, we also create ourselves.

I spent much of last year trying (sometimes not all that gracefully) to keep up with the wild branches growing every which way out of my creative practice. Cutting leaves off here and there. Tying the spindly shoots that were drooping to some makeshift support. But that approach is not sustainable, of course. Nor is it beautiful. It lacks vision and purpose.

So here we go - are you with me? 

This year it's deep work, pruning some BIG branches, in order to make space for all that's yet to come.

Branch Button by Tari Sasser

I'm ready. I'm excited. I'm wide open to freedom. Joy. Open to seeing the teeniest tiniest spots of color and wonder, wherever they are. And they are everywhere!

Crimson Picasso handwoven beads by Rebecca Anderson

In the spirit of making space for new experiences, this will be my last post as part of the ABS editorial team. The women who've created this blog have built something special here. It's a meeting place; a point of connection for people who love all things art beads. A celebration of creative community. So of course, deciding to move on wasn't easy - but it does help to know that I can still be an avid fan and reader, continuing to soak up all the beautiful inspiration. And I promise I'll try to remember to leave a comment more often - I know how good it feels to be appreciated and encouraged!!

As for what's next... once the pruning process calms down, I'll be feeling excited about all the possibilities! Sitting at my jeweler's bench practicing my new metalsmithing skills... making lots of new beads to keep my Uglipeeps happy, writing and sharing stuff in my Uglibeads Facebook group.. and following that path through the woods, wherever it leads. One step at a time.

I'll keep my eyes open, my feet moving, my heart happy and my spirit loving... And I have no doubt that the rest will fall into place, as it's meant to happen, when it's meant to happen.

 great love charm by Heather Millican

Henry David Thoreau said, "I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees." And reflecting back on the time I've spent being inspired by the amazingly talented people who make this corner of the art bead world what it is... I think I know what he means.

Vivid Wilderness beads by Julie Wong Sontag

So as I sign off, may I offer an enormous thank you to the Art Bead Scene team - Heather P., Rebecca, Claire, Erin, Mary, Tari, Heather M. and Michelle. And to you, the lovely ABS readers. It's been a real pleasure.

I hope our paths continue to cross.



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Julie is a glass beadmaker with a passion for building community and inspiring conversation around her writing. Her best work comes from that magical place where nature meets creative flow. She is fascinated by all things weird and wonderful. You will find her hanging out most days in her Uglibeads Facebook group or on Instagram, and you're invited to join in the adventure by signing up for her weekly email newsletter.


Mary @ said...

Your comment about things getting busy and creating suffering really hit home with me. I haven’t made time to make anything this month and my sales gave suffered. Best wishes to you, Julie, as you make time to go on new adventures in creating.

Karen Z said...

your post so resonates with me. I have been struggling with filling custom orders to meet others' expectations, and neglecting my own muse. Post-holiday grey days aren't easy anyway, but there are some jobs I must now let go of. They just don't feed my soul.

Mary Harding said...

A beautiful post!! Thank you Julie for taking us with you on your walk. We too have come out taller!!

Claire Lockwood said...

Super post, Julie. It's been lovely having you here.

Kathy Lindemer said...

Best wishes and thank you for your lovely post.

Ann Schroeder said...

I always enjoy your posts, and this one is no exception. You always make me think in a positive way about approaching life and creativity. Thank you for your posts, and I look forward to the journey ahead.

TesoriTrovati said...

Oh dear, sweet Miss Julie.... I am actually weeping over here! That was one of the most heartbreakingly wonderful posts ever and I will be bookmarking it for all time. I have to say that your time here was all too brief. Like a neighbor that I have just met is moving away before I even had a chance to introduce myself and invite you in for tea. I wish that we could have you forever. But I also know that ache that comes from wanting to stretch your wings but finding your flight impeded by a box of another design, longing to break free. We will all miss your spirit, your energy, your soulful meanderings and wise words. Please know that you always have a place here with us and we would welcome you as a guest whenever your words need a place to spill over to! I am excited to watch you unfold and expand. Blessings to you for all the heartfelt beauty that you have imparted to us all! Enjoy the day! Erin

Terri said...

Wishing you all the best in whatever comes your way and whatever task you choose to tackle. I'm glad our paths have crossed somewhat here and there. Looking forward to seeing or hearing what you are up to in th efuture.

Jean Baldridge Yates said...

You are a beautiful person. Thank you for this lovely piece.

Eileen Bergen said...

What inspiring musing. Maybe it's time for me to step back and do some thinking like this as well. Life just gets so crazy.

I will miss your beautiful writing at ABS, but still know where to find your gorgeous art beads. Best of luck.

Julie Wong Sontag said...

Wow - thank you all for the lovely comments - it's been a grand adventure sharing some time with you here :) I'm glad to know I'm not alone in reshuffling and re-evaluating - I just know it will be an exciting year for those of us dancing with big plans and hopes for the future. xoxo