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  • catherine stemper

Start Stopping

The Summer Solstice is upon us. Here in the PNW, we get gloriously long days. Around 3 am, the night sky lightens. It barely just got dark, the gloaming is around 10pm. Twilights and dawns are long here, no matter what time of year, in winter, it is always twilight, the sun never is seen full face, and when it does come out, it blinds you because it is below your brim. The change of day into night and night into day is magical and inspiring, a time for thought and quietness, reflection, dreaming, goal setting and reviewing. The dawn and the dusk tell us when to change gears, when to stop or start. But when we create, how do we know when to stop?


Being deep in the trance of creation, time disappears, falls away. I go deep into my process and lose track of all kinds of things, maybe even the "function" of my creation. Then I step back and take a fresh look. Is it finished? is there more? can it be better? is it too much? I have been creating a very long time, and all I can say I get a sense that the thing is complete.


However, my customers and friends have all given me valuable insights, and I welcome the criticisms! Art school hardens the fragile ego, and business rids any preciousness. I take every idea to mind. Sometimes I am eager to give the new idea a try, other times, I have to mull. The customer's point of view or understanding is stronger than my vision, sometimes my vision cannot come to fruition. All these realizations can be disheartening and real obstacles, the time to stop becomes obvious. A step back and re-evaluation of the function and form can be helpful. Sometimes, just editing the last few additions. Keep It Simple. Too much is too much. Too much information is confusing or overwhelming. Too much "design" can be kitchy or gimmicky, not enough "design" can be cliché, ubiquitous, ordinary. When the creation meets my goal, has a uniqueness that is all mine, can be well made reliably, and the customer can understand it immediately, then it is done.


Coco Chanel advised "...Look in the mirror and take one thing off." Very good advice from the Queen of Accessories. Time and a fresh look at your creation will enable you to know what needs to be taken off. We all over do it! It is part of the process, do it all, but always take away some too. Go back and forth with the two rules until you have achieved completion. They are meant to work together, neither rule is complete without the other. Where to start, and how to stop, the rest is up to you.






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