Tag Archive: creativity

A portrait in SS metal clay

A portrait in sterling metal clay

Fired and finished metal clay portrait with patina.

Fired and finished Sterling Silver metal clay portrait with patina.

Do the minds of creative people work differently than the minds of others? I know my mind isn’t anything at all like a mathematician’s mind. I knew this at a very young age….it wasn’t that I couldn’t do the math, I just didn’t want to do it. (You may be wondering what this has to do with the interesting woman featured on the cameos. Don’t worry, I’ll eventually get to the connection.)

At age seven I was pretty sure I would never need math, so when the other children were diligently working away at addition and subtraction, I was inventing personalities for all the numbers and using them as characters for my own amusement. I have creative friends that tell me they had similar experiences as children. My friend Kaitlin is a story teller, and instead of figuring out those ridiculous math word problems, she would write elaborate stories explaining where the people on “the train going 25 miles an hour” were traveling and why “the other train was going 100 miles and hour”…. never quite bothering to solve the actual problem.

I still like to make up characters and scenario’s for my own amusement, only now I write them out in a writing circle I attend and people think I’m a jewelry artist/writer (it’s mostly because of the company I keep and not because I have actual writing skills, which is evident in this blog.) One of the women in the group, Anne, often writes stories that she calls “polaroid chronicles.” The way these stories come about is ingenious. While Anne is out and about, she sees a person that catches her eye for one reason or another and she mentally snaps a picture of them. Later she recalls that mental image and makes up a story about them.

That was the inspiration for this cameo. I was at my grand daughter, Dylah’s first birthday party at a park and I noticed this woman pushing her children on the swings. Perhaps some day I will write her story but I really wanted to do was capture her beauty and strength in metal.

So tell me, do the minds of creative people work the same way as other peoples minds? Am I an artist because I have an aptitude for it, or do I have the skills because I’ve completed the Jewelry Arts program at the California Institute of Jewelry Training, done coursework at the Revere Academy, and continue to take jewelry making classes to keep my skills honed? Would I have put in hours of practice to learn and refine those skills if I didn’t have a love of art? After all, art was always my favorite subject from the very beginning, even though I wasn’t very good at it…. I really wasn’t! While other’s in my class were making cool t-rex’s and brontosaurus’ I  made a Pterodactyl that looked like a big, brown X. Fortunately for me my artistic abilities improved and somehow, through the persistence of my teachers, I even managed to pick up some math, English and history through osmosis!


Copyright © Mary M. Ehlers, Good Muse Designs 2014. All rights reserved.

People often ask me where I get my ideas for new pieces of jewelry or artwork. I tell them the truth, inspiration is an elusive, mystical connection between me and another realm where fairies, mermaids and elves whisper to me in my sleep…. Now before you think I’m completely crazy, I’m just kidding!!! But sometimes it does seem like the ideas just pop into my mind… you know, like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the Ghost Buster’s movie. (I loved the part where everyone was ‘not thinking of anything’ and Dan Akroyd’s character says, “I couldn’t help it, it just popped in there!”) So this being the case, where ideas just arrive in my mind, you can imagine my panic when our local metal clay guild asked me to “submit an explanation of how I was motivated to create a piece and why I did what I did” for an upcoming publication. I’m sure I’m somewhat certain that my brain must go through some type of process. It transforms the things that I have seen, heard, read, dreamed in my sleep, etc. into design ideas. However, I don’t believe I want or need to know how it does it. I’ve said on several occasions that I’m not certain I even have a left brain, so I don’t want to dig too deeply into trying to dissect my creative process. I attribute my creativity and imagination to public education….enhanced by all that day dreaming in school when I was supposed to be learning math, history and other things I’ve managed to avoid my entire life. My creativity all boils down to this one simple concept: I expect that ideas will come to me freely and easily, and so they do <grin>! One of my favorite quotes is by Chuck Close, “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.”

Writers do this all the time. They set aside a number of hours they are going to write each day…sure sometimes they get writers block but eventually the story is told. That’s what happens when you begin to create a work of art…eventually the piece is finished and a story is told….sometimes the surprise endings even surprise me!

Copyright © Mary M. Ehlers, Good Muse Designs 2013. All rights reserved.

"Breathe and other postcards in the works!"

The closer we get to the election here in the U.S., the louder and more frequent the noise…. Today I turned off the phone, the TV, the radio, the internet; well except for going to Marnie is my Muse to write this post and a very quick email check early this morning… I don’t want to hear anyone to tell me what to think! The mind monkeys are good enough at doing that. So today I got out my watercolors and went to work on a new postcard…..”Breathe”……. The other three were done in a class at Kaitlin’s Creative Cottage a couple of weeks ago but I had the wrong pen for the pen and ink part so I will have to re-do them before I can add color or I might try pastels in them or something….eventually they will become jewelry, I can see a link bracelet with enamel in my mind.

I am interested what other people do to escape when life gets to hectic, noisy, and so frantic that you feel like a little hamster on a plastic treadmill….. Some people actually get on a real treadmill and exercise the stresses away…. I tried that once, it didn’t work for me (just kidding.) I suggest doing something new and fun like taking a new class in painting, pottery, even a jewelry class! I would love to hear what you do to increase creativity and “Melt Stress like Butta!”

Copyright © Mary Ehlers, Good Muse Designs all rights reserved.



Rock My World ring

I’m talking about creator’s block,,, kind of like writer’s block except it’s about creating tangible “things” rather than creating using words.  I often suffer from creator’s block….not creativity block where I can’t think up ideas, that is a different can of worms all together, but the actual act of getting into the studio and executing those ideas.  I can come up with a million things to do instead,,, computer work, marketing, business stuff, housework, and then there are the excuses,,,, I don’t want to mess up the studio because I have students coming, I don’t have enough time before my dear husband gets here, I work better at night, I can’t concentrate because the @##$% (insert swear word of your choice here!) Dogs next door are barking….well you get the idea…

I’ve been talking to lots of artists about the “just do it” of making art and here are the top 5 ways to make art happen, in other words, how to chip away at the old block!

1)      Do it with a friend… ask a fellow artist to join you in the studio for a work session.

2)      Be accountable… join a group, ask a friend or family member to nag you, create a challenge  like a piece a week posted to your web site or flicker photos and ask others to participate.

3)      Take an ongoing class or even a one-time workshop in your medium or even in something totally unrelated to get you going.

4)      Set up designated work times and stay away from the phone, computer, etc. during these times…then stick to it!

5)      Reward yourself for working.  This is really important for those of us that work for ourselves because we often don’t see an actual pay check from week to week for specific hours worked.  (My reward goes something like this… if you finish ABC, LMNOP and XYZ by Thursday at 11:59 PM, then you can go play at the Creative Cottage on Friday!)

I hope this helps you all get started creating lot’s more art in 2012…. If you have any other great ideas on how to make more art, please leave a comment with your suggestions!

© Mary M. Ehlers 2012 all rights reserved.

The New Year is here and I wanted to share a few of my intentions with you for upping my creativity and reducing artists block.

1.  Just get into the studio and start working…. Don’t wait for inspiration, jump right in and pretty soon art will appear.  If you don’t feel especially creative do the busy work like brushing gesso on canvases if you paint, flipping through your old sketch books, or taking your camera out and clicking a few shots of whatever….  So 2012 is my year to make more jewelry in my studio and clean it less.  My students are awesome…they won’t mind.

2. Take on only new obligations that make you happy. JUST SAY NO to things that drain you of every good thing and give back little to no reward.  (If you have a day job the reward in that is a paycheck or health insurance so that isn’t what I’m talking about here…)  I vow to choose my obligations wisely!

3. Take out the trash… I’m not talking about the stuff piling up in the can, although getting rid of that helps too… I’m referring to the mental garbage that is weighing you down so that there isn’t a place for creativity.  This might be the little voice in your head that tells you all the reasons why you can’t do something, or the committee you agreed to head up or whatever…This year no matter how hard it is I am going to take 3 giant steps out of my comfort zone, put my fingers in my ears and tell the voice inside my head “na,na, na, na…I can’t hear you!”

4. Do something FUN as often as possible.  This is really important if you work from home!  Schedule an outing once a week or at the very least plan on doing something at home that is out of the ordinary and enjoyable.  I spend my Friday’s with friends that make me laugh. We make art or in my case I doodle while we chat.  (Ok if you must know I hang out at Kaitlin’s Creative Cottage.  http://thundermoonstudios.wordpress.com/kaitlins-creative-cottage-classes/)

5. And finally, this year I am going to put some healthy food in my body and add bit more movement ….no I am not giving up anything like chocolate or coffee… I am just going to add a few more vegetables into the mix and take my old dog Kobe out for a few adventures…. I have been told that this will make me much more creative…. time will tell 😉

The earrings pictured above are from the E-Z, Artsy Earring class I am doing through Groupon and they are made from pennies….just my 2 cents worth!

Copyright © Mary Ehlers, all rights reserved.