Friday, October 26, 2012

The Rearview Mirror and the Road Ahead

Yesterday I heard the news that a schoolmate of mine passed away. At 39, a massive heart attack ended his life. The first thing I often think about when I hear of someone passing at (what is considered) an early age, is, "Were they happy? Did they do the things that made them happy and spend the time with the people that mattered to them? Would they have lived differently if they had known?"
There's no going back. And that's the point. Sorry for the cliche, but tomorrow is not promised. I personally live by that understanding, and it has created an urgency in me to complete the things I think I'm here to do in the time that I have, which is, truly, only NOW, for sure. This moment.

The thought of leaving here without being/doing/having/knowing/sharing what I came here for is one of my very biggest motivators. It keeps me going when I'm exhausted, projects don't go as planned, and I feel like quitting. I sometimes get the feeling some of my own peers can't relate to my drive in my creative work, my anxiety to get it done today. I feel like they wonder why I don't just work a regular job, with less pressure to sink or swim. But I live to glance in my rearview mirror and see the very personal dreams I've accomplished, then keep moving forward. I think many don't relate to the sacrifices I've made to pursue my artistic dreams. This Saturday, I will turn the ripe old age of 38 (believe me when I say I feel like 28 is more accurate). I'm not where I want to be yet, but I'm well on the road there. If I were to take a moment to consider my life, and how I would feel about my choices if it were to end tomorrow, at the very least, I can say that even though I didn't have or get to do everything I would have liked, I enjoyed many blessings, and I was true to myself and my dreams. 
Don't get me wrong, even in my urgency, I try to stop short of being anxious about life being over any day now. I don't think that's a good way to live, especially if you believe thoughts and words become things. But that being said, I maintain daily, the need to check off a list of dreams, (sometimes big, but mostly small, bite sized ones) that I've made my reality. And then I spend time being consciously thankful for them. It's the icing on the cake if something I'm doing inspires someone else to do the same for their life. My thought for today: make the most of the joy, pain, lessons, laughs, people, and things you have now, and to take it a step further, really take time to feel gratitude for those things and the time you had to experience them!
RIP Chris Combs 1972-2012

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Studio Secret

Yesterday as I was ending a conversation with a friend in Capetown, who is a fellow papier mache enthusiast, I mentioned that I had to go tend to some papier mache pieces that were getting backed up, waiting to be sanded. She wryly wished me "fun with that", voicing what I felt about the sanding phase sometimes being my least favorite, albeit, very necessary step in making my papier mache pieces.
I will admit that I do sometimes procrastinate when pieces arrive at the sanding stage, but I have an excuse. In order to get the smooth, modern look I like, I have to be prepared to invest some time and juice. Seriously. So I often opt to work on other things, including starting new pieces, while the existing pieces stack up, with the logic that I'm still being productive. Then I end up planning a major sanding day, when I know I won't be dragging from too many late studio nights, and I'll have the hunger to hit a number of pieces in one go. 
Happily, many years ago, an old beau made a suggestion that I (and anyone who likes my work) should be thanking him for to this day. Upon seeing some of my work and listening to me talk about my search for ways to streamline my process, he recommended something I'd heard of, but hadn't looked into for myself. That's when my Dremel hand tool entered my life. I slapped myself in the forehead for not thinking of it on my own, and I never looked back. And now here we are today, many projects and years later, and I'm sharing this lovely tool here.

my (now old school model) Dremel rotary sander
This is not a glamorous, girly tool, and it can get a little loud, but this, as Tony Montana said in Scarface, is my little friend. I use it to quickly knock bubbles and kinks out of surfaces prior to my standard hand sanding with coarse sand paper. It works great for papier mache. I don't really use it for major sanding over large surfaces, though. That's what the bigger sanders are for. But this guy has all types of attachments and doo dads that help me buff, cut, carve, and smooth, to achieve all kinds of awesome finishes. I've also used it on polymer clay, wood, metal, and plastic.
I'm really not trying to do a commercial for Dremel, lol. This is a tidbit for those who want to know some of my secrets for the surfaces I create. This does not eliminate the need to sand all over with sand paper. At least not for me, because I'm pretty picky. I want smooth! Here's a piece that I started with the Dremel, then finished with sandpaper:
sanded to prep for painting
Thankfully, the Dremel and I had a pretty productive day yesterday, which will net new pieces arriving in my online shops in the next week or so. Yay!
And there, my friends, is another secret from the studio of Renée.
Thank you, D.D., wherever you are. :o)