designing from the heart

You may have noticed most of my posts of late have been kind of brief and mostly images ... it's been a while since I dove into my thoughts on design and the challenges therein.

My brain holds an ongoing debate about what I want to make, where do I want to take my work, how do I want to get there and on and on.  I love, in virtually equal measure, making one-of-a-kind work and production oriented work.  More often than not, there's also an internal argument about reining myself in, holding back, moving cautiously forward rather than diving in full throttle.  This timid and what can feel like a fear based approach to design is crazy making.  It's an almost constant push/pull, leap/no baby steps, a resounding yes/tentative maybe, raucous chorus in my head.

Ahhhhhh, "in my head" ... maybe that's the problem.

One series of my work that's been dormant for a long time is my Talismans.  For several years, my Talismans For Fellow Travelers, later All One Talismans, were a vital part of my life as a maker.  What I refer to as my "spiritual coming out party"  in September '08 was a powerful time.  The premier of this deeply personal work was during the monthly gallery walk at Artisans on Taylor in Port Townsend and while explaining my inspirations and motivations, I spent a good bit of the evening in tears ... powerful stuff.

I can only make the Talismans when I'm in the right place, mentally and spiritually.  For me, the creation of the work is a sacred process and "trying" to make a piece just doesn't cut it.  The inspiration has to flow from deep within.  Anything less would be dishonest and a disservice.

For months I've wanted to go back to this series.  But when I look at what I've made in the past, I know that I've shifted and need to come at it from a new place.  In no way do I mean to denigrate my previous work.  It was valid and true for that time, but I am in a very different place.  Years have passed ... how could it be otherwise?    And that's where I'm stuck. 

I've never been particularly religious ... deeply spiritual, yes ... but organized religion holds no interest for me.  Not sure how to say this ... but you know how different religions have their sacred signs and symbols and objects?  Looking back, the thing with not being connected to any specific faith, I used to cherry pick symbols to use ... I knew these symbols held meaning for others, but mostly for me, there was not much of an emotional or spiritual connection.  I did pretty well designing my own vocabulary of symbols ... a favorite was my diamond studded spiral ... the spiral of life will have bumps along the road, but look closely and you'll see that each bump is actually a treasure in disguise.  Yep, still like that one a lot.

still wearing this 2013 incarnation of my own talisman

still wearing this 2013 incarnation of my own talisman

But now as I ponder how I want to approach and re-visit this sacred work, I am at a complete and utter loss of where to begin.  I want to create meaningful objects, but I want the symbolism to be less direct.  I don't want to cherry pick symbols, I don't want to make things with the "oh, someone will like this" intention.  I've worked hard to pare down my design vocabulary and I don't want to muddy it up with co-opted elements ... for instance, this little shiksa making a mezuzah feels utterly wrong.  Same thing with a rosary or mala ... there's a formula and I could do it, but ... yeah, I don't think so.

The challenge is to find a way to express, and ultimately share through my jewelry, my deep faith in a different way.  That calls for opening my heart and my eyes to uncover symbols and objects that can communicate directly ... the message is not overt, it is felt and then known through the heart. 

My prayers and meditations are focused on letting go and being open to receiving guidance about where to begin.  I've no idea where this will go, but it seemed like it would be a nice thing to share.  Additional prayers and positive juju always welcome.

with deep gratitude - kvk