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  • catherine stemper

Inspiration part 2

Inspiration, move me brightly

Light the song with sense of colour

Hold away despair

More than this I will not ask

Faced with mysteries dark and vast

Statements just seem vain at last

-Robert Hunter, Grateful Dead, Terrapin Station / Lady with a Fan


I finally looked up the lyrics, kind of amazing how appropriate they are. "Hold away despair"..is so true. I have let inspiration guide me through my blues. It took quite a bit of effort, but it worked. Sinking into depression, I knew I had to rescue myself. Art has always been my escape, but when art became my business, it changed. Money changes everything, thanks, Cyndi Lauper :)

I started small, by making simple birthday cards for my family and friends. My family is huge, a couple of birthdays or more every month. When I was a kid, making family birthday cards was my "job". I grew to hate it, as kids do. The art school I attended was in Kansas City, also the home of Hallmark Cards, so working for Hallmark after graduation was pretty common, if not expected for design illustration majors, like me. However, I did not want to work for Hallmark, much to my parents' chagrin.

I stopped making cards. I would buy handmade cards, but no longer made them. Then I met my husband, and he made cards for me. I love them. He told me he had never had anyone make him a card. My heart broke. I stopped buying cards for him, and make very card for him, now. It is fun how similar our cards for each other turn out. We often have similar themes or imagery, though we keep the creations secret until we exchange them.

So quarantine sets in. I haven't seen my family in almost two years now. So, in effort to feel better about missing them, and letting creativity relieve stress, I decided to start making them birthday cards. Very simple, I try not to spend more than 15 minutes on them, because I want to keep it fun, not too precious. It helps a lot. A few minutes of pure play with markers, time disappears, stress dissolves.

I have let myself re-explore old inspirations for jewelry too. When my business was in full swing, attending Saturday Market or some other event every weekend, and producing stock during the week, really did not allow much time for inspiration. Unless a new idea popped into my head fully formed, I rarely came up with new designs. Time was always a need. When I did have time, in January, I was often too burnt out from the holiday season to be inspired to find inspiration.

Now all I have is time. I am starting to take advantage of that time. I am using my time to do the things I never had time for before, walking, yoga, organizing. I am finally getting back to inspiration and creativity. It feels SO GOOD!

I recently made the Tiny Mushroom jewelry pieces

. I had that idea years ago, but not the patience or open mind to let myself play with my beads and wire. A simple idea, but it needed time. I needed to have the time to accept my creations. Too often I judge harshly bc I am not "wow"ed. I trash the whole idea instead of trying again. I am currently working on another fungus inspiration. I had a concept. I was inspired by a friend's earring and went in that direction. I made paper versions first. I had it all figured out, ready to cut the stencils and make a metal version. I felt that my head was overworked. I had been working on it for hours. It was a beautiful day, maybe the last for the year, so I decided to yoga a bit outside, and reset my head. During my breath calming opening routine, I realized my new design was flawed. All that time, and I was back at the beginning. A bummer, yes, but my training in art school came to my rescue and I knew my idea was worthwhile and had another concept. I love designing. I love problem solving. I love puzzles. My creative mind was getting a work out, and I had the time for it. That was key, if I was in a production crunch, the momentum of creativity and inspiration would have been forfeited for making inventory. Now I am into my third or fourth day of working on the turkey tail fungus idea. I am close, I think it will happen today.

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