Thursday, April 27, 2006

SACRED SHARDS: A Beneficent Boss

Today I'm engaged in repetitive work, putting together packaging, assembling necklaces, stitching beads on baskets, and sitting at the computer for hours to work on graphics. I enjoy all this, up to a point. I have to use distraction and bribery to get myself through this last phase of the creative process when it requires assembly line work or being chained to a computer for hours.

This last phase of the creative process* is called proliferation. It involves reproduction, packaging, and marketing a creative work.

This last phase of the creative process is the most neglected among artist and musicians. We create because we like to make something new out of ideas and raw materials. Many of us also create because we hope the things we make will be meaningful or at least entertaining to others. But no one will encounter our work unless it's given legs of its own to venture beyond the confines of the artist's studio.

As an artist/musician/writer/educator, I work for myself, by myself, most of the day. I'm learning to be sensitive to the needs of my creative process, while running a small business.

I'm the business manager, but I'm also the art department, marketing consultant, accountant, admin support, public relations, product development, travel agent, computer tech, database manager, licensing/legal, print shop, mail room, purchasing agent, inventory control, and cafeteria chef, all rolled into one. As business manager I'm required to be financially responsible, organized, plan ahead and follow through even when it isn't any fun.

Managing my creative side, really allowing time for it to manage me, requires a completely different set of skills.

Creative work in it's earliest stages has to be play or it just doesn't happen. When I sit down at the piano to write or slice off a fresh slab of clay to sculpt, I don't know what I'm going to end up with, if anything. Results are far from guaranteed. It's all about enjoying the process, following it where it leads. I start with raw materials, a stretch of time and an image or a concept or a feeling or nothing at all. Things progress spontaneously rather than sequentially.

Sometimes, after several hours of intense effort, all I have is a better idea of where I might be going and a pile of pages covered with scribbled words, or used up materials that have to be tossed out. Sometimes the results are so unexpected that I feel as if they've arrived by divine providence.

Creative play/work doesn't follow a typical business model.

A good boss for a creative person plans for spontaneity by not packing the schedule too tightly. A good boss for a creative person arranges for abundant materials to be on hand and easy to find. A good boss for a creative person shields the artist from concerns about finances and marketability while the artist is developing something new.

A good boss for a creative person actually realizes that the artist is the employer, not the other way around.

Am I the kind of boss I enjoy working for? A Beneficent Boss?

That depends.

I try to be a good boss. When I'm working intently, I try to remember to give myself breaks to get up and stretch, get some food and take care of other necessities. I try to see that I work in a studio, not an office. I try to stay focused on deeper motivations: to be happy, to make a difference in the world, and hopefully have something for paying the bills.

Unfortunately, there are times when I'm a slave driver. The slave driver insists on doing one more thing, then another and another, before I'm allowed to stop for lunch. The slave driver forgets about the artist's need for unscheduled time and makes too many commitments. The slave driver is all about practical applications and marketability, all the time. The slave driver demands that the work space is perfectly picked up and the To-Do List is completely crossed off before the artist is allowed to play.

The slave driver boss threatens to take possession of the artist's successful creations by setting expectations for the artist to produce the same work over and over.

The artist is not a factory worker.

Today, I'm an artist working the assembly line of proliferation. I'm bridging the gap between creating in seclusion and putting a tiny piece of art into the hands of someone who will enjoy it.

I'm pretending not to be doing something repetitious. I'm distracting myself by writing this little essay while the box inserts for Sacred Shards necklaces come out of the printer by the dozens.

Is this efficient? For me it is.

In a little while, I'll rent a couple of sappy movies and pile a plate with snacks, then sit down to cut the box inserts to size, hand stamp 50 or 60 box lids, assemble necklaces, and sew beads on baskets. There'll be a break to teach a couple of voice lessons early in the evening. Then it's back to the assembly shop for a couple hours to meet a deadline coming up this weekend.

If I do this, the good boss has promised me some uninterrupted time to write songs, play with clay and dig in the garden. Just as soon as this big push is all over. I'm trusting the good boss to follow through.

:-), Kay

* For more on the phases of the creative process [Creation, Realization, and Proliferation] see Bill Pere's articles at:

COPYRIGHT 2006 - Effusive Muse Publishing

Monday, April 17, 2006

HEART&SPIRAL: Why Title Everything?

I thought it might be good to provide some explanation about the titles I'm using in this blog.

I'm not a person who's content to do only one thing. So I've come up with names for the different aspects of my creative/artistic/musical life. Makes more sense to me that way. Helps me to keep straight on what I'm doing at any given moment, but might be confusing for others without some sort of Rosetta stone to help decipher.

People ask me what I do. Here's the breakdown.

HEART&SPIRAL: This is name for that swirly logo thing made out of my initials. It's also an over arching concept of creative flow, spiritual journey toward center, etc. And it's the name of my band. Everything else I do, no matter how it's named, falls under HEART&SPIRAL.

SOUND KRAYONS MUSIC: This is my teaching studio. I offer voice instruction and coaching, workshops, song writing and performance coaching, music theory and piano instruction.

SACRED SHARDS: This is my pottery business. Also includes some mixed media work.

KEYS FOR A CAUSE an organization I founded to unite keyboard playing performing songwriters, coast-to-coast (US) and internationally, to present events and recordings benefiting local social services as an outreach of LUNCH (Local United Network to Combat Hunger).

GAIA LUNA: a sacred space garden being created to celebrate the cycles of earth and moon, and the traditions of women. All this is described in more detail on my website:

:-), Kay

Saturday, April 15, 2006

SACRED SHARDS: Independent!

Exciting news! Today I was approved to be an independent artist at the pottery studio where I've been going since February.

This means that I can go work there anytime someone is in the office to hand out the key (usually 8 AM-9PM). Now I can work for as long as I want, totally unsupervised. My creative flow won't be interrupted anymore by the end of a class. I can make use of the studio slab roller and all the special glazes. I can fire my pieces in the studio kiln. All for a very small fee that amounts to the cost of daily cup of really cheap coffee.

I set this goal for myself several months ago. Feels good to have reach it!

It's the beginning of many new and wonderful things.

:-), Kay

Friday, April 14, 2006

GAIA LUNA: setting boundaries


Today the cats and I put up the deer fence around Gaia Luna - 8 feet tall! All the posts are in place, the netting is cut to width. Hopefully we'll finish tomorrow.

The new deer fence is a boundary. I'm resistant to boundaries. I didn't want to put up a fence around Gaia Luna, but I'm learning that boundaries can be as necessary for gardens as they are for people.

The best boundaries are invisible to all except those who are unable to pass through them.

The deer fence around Gaia Luna consists of a fine netting strung between tall wooden posts. Without it, the deer and groundhogs eat most of tender plants right down to the ground. Gaia Luna is meant to provide food, herbs and flowers for the people who live here, not the animals passing through. We encourage deer and groundhogs to browse elsewhere.

I've learned about the habits of deer.

They don't mean any harm. They're deer, doing the things that deer do. Gaia Luna is along their path from the woods to ... where ever it is that deer go when they leave our field.

Like deer, certain people devour time, energy, and compassion while leaving behind only trampled remnants. Deer-People. Like hungry forest creatures, Deer-People gobble precious resources only to fill empty bellies.

I work to share my time, energy, compassion and resources, hoping that this will create lasting change for others. This can only happen if Deer-People aren't allowed to graze on the seedlings my inspiration or indiscriminantly consume the harvest of my efforts.

I've learned about the habits of deer.

And I've learned about the habits of Deer-People. They usually don't mean any harm. They're Deer-People, doing the things that Deer-People do. I just happen to be along their path from ... where ever Deer-People come from ... to ... where ever Deer-People go when they finally move on.

Is it possible to stay open, to experience life fully while having clear boundaries?

When it's finished, the protective boundary surrounding Gaia Luna will be open to light and air. It's not a fortress wall. Robins and bluebirds will still fly in for a visit. The cats will still come to roll in the dust and rub up against my legs as I work. I can see outside the garden's boundaries, across the field, all the way to the woods. The breeze blows through. The sounds of children playing nearby still reach me. If it works as planned, I'll be able to move freely across the boundary surrounding Gaia Luna.

This is the right kind of boundary for Gaia Luna.
This is the right kind of boundary for me.


Bulbs I planted in Gaia Luna last fall - crocuses just finished blooming, little blue bell things that I didn't label, the tips of late daffodils about 3 inches tall. Last summer's valerian, Egyptian onions, garlic, sage, moss between the rocks, all waking.

AND yesterday I finished transplanting lambs ears to outline a 10 foot wide circle around the central mound. The clump these were divided from started out last spring as four little sprigs in a 3 inch pot at the garden club plant sale. My mother says that lambs ears were one of my grandmother's favorite plants. How fitting that they now encircle the central altar stone in Gaia Luna -- a place for celebrating the rhythms of earth/moon and the traditions of women.

The impulse to grow? ... Innate to all living things!


COPYRIGHT 2006 Effusive Muse Publishing

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sacred Shards

Sacred Shards: Artifacts of the Spirit
Unearthed to Tell Their Stories
Hand-Sculpted Stoneware by Kay Pere

I'm going public with my pottery. Not in the stock market sense. Public in the sense that my pottery pieces are now in a store where people can buy them without me being present. I've been selling them for the past 6 months at shows, but now they're taking on a life of their own.

Now I'm officially being refered to in the press as a Musician/Artisan. Sorta kool!

The new store is "Simply Sage" on Rt.1 in Stonington. I'll be doing a concert for their official grand opening celebration on Sunday 4/30 at 2:00 PM. More info on address, etc. soon

When there are photos of the pottery posted on the website, I'll put the link here.