Face your fears… and mind the gap.

I really like working with PMC (precious metal clay). It’s a marvelous substance and it involves fire and transformation, so it is truly almost magical or at least alchemical. I love that you can mold it, carve it, build with it, sculpt it…

…and I’m freaking terrified of it.

For some reason, I am just really afraid to open it up and get into it. Maybe because I’m aware that it is fine silver? Because it cost money? I don’t know… I don’t want to do it imperfectly. I’ve often felt that way about new skill sets and art forms I am unused to. It’s not a new phenomenon. Avoid the new and scary, avoid the imperfection, and focus on the easily perfectable. Never risk. Never look bad.

I’m realizing how this has really been a factor in my creative life, since my childhood. In my life as a whole. If I’m gonna look bad or less than perfectly assured, I skip it.

I really have to work myself into a space where I can work with the PMC, and it never really feels like play or discovery. The best way I can characterize opening one of those packets is that it leads to just pure panic. I find myself working as fast as I can, numbing out to the actual process, getting it over with… and that doesn’t really lead to my best work, I’ve gotta confess. I have no idea why this is. But I’m really sick of avoiding a medium just because it scares me. Earlier this week I dug in and panicked my way through a couple of packets, disassociation, fear, speed and all. And by the last packet, I was feeling a little less scared.

Now I’ve got a bunch of imperfectly textured charms and some molded pendants in the greenware state. Pieces that I need to refine and then fire. Nothing brilliantly creative – I mostly used commercial molds and texture sheets – but it felt pretty good to work my way through some of the fear. I guess I’ll just sell these imperfect pieces as “distressed” and “rustic” and “organic” or figure out a way to finish them so their imperfections are part of their charm. I’m gonna keep at it. Try to reclaim the joy I felt during that first Intro to PMC class I took earlier this year. Get better. Get through the gap.

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

What about you? What scares you? Are you ready to jump into the scary empty places and make it go?

About Maia Rainwood

Owner and Maker at Maia Rainwood Design. Wearable art for wise women, birth keepers, witches, and world-builders.
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16 Responses to Face your fears… and mind the gap.

  1. cambriaw says:

    Good for you! That’s pretty much how I feel about trying to design a full sized sweater. I can knit one from what’s in my head, but I just freeze when it comes to putting it all down and offering it to someone else.

    • Rainy says:

      Sometimes I worry that if someone buys a pair of my earrings, they’ll realize I’m a huge fraud and that my jewelry is somehow… not as real as other artists. Which is just ridonkulous. But, imposter syndrome much? Oh yes, I can has.

  2. merchimerch says:

    Yep, I feel kind of like I’m back in that space of needing to have a practice of writing that is really disciplined and daily (or at least weekday-ly). I’m also starting the granting process for a new research project which is full of exciting and wonderful, but also full of “oh shit, there is so much I don’t know, since I haven’t done the research yet.” With my current/old research I’m used to being the person who knows things, in many cases being the only person who knows them and writes about them in the clearly in English. It is scary (and exciting) to go back to being the person who doesn’t know things again. Thanks for your post and the Ira Glass clip — just what I needed to remind myself that it is okay to be crap for a while (even if you are experienced).

    • Rainy says:

      I think it is actually *important* to be crap for a while. That’s what I’m coming to. That the crap part is as vital to the process as anything else.

  3. merchimerch says:

    I love that my one grammar fail sentence is the one that claims to write clearly about stuff in English. I think that I just illustrated the point.

  4. Dawn says:

    I know it might seem time consuming, but does polymer clay have similar enough properties that you could work out some of that fear and perfect some techniques before diving into the pmc? That might help reassure you a bit? That’s one of the reasons I started working with copper initially… less fear due to less cost if I screwed something up. But then I fell in love with the copper for other reasons. Just a though. But yay for pushing through anyway! Sometimes we just kinda have to psyche ourselves out and bite the bullet, so to speak.

    • Rainy says:

      You know, that’s the weird thing. I’ve never really felt like I wanted to work with other materials, even when I was scared. I felt like I “should” just be able to work with the materials I wanted and that dipping in my toe halfway was somehow… not okay. I’m exploring that idea further.

  5. lemme just say that I am super excited for you . . .
    … and now….among the ‘lots o’ things I am scared of’ is organizing my business systems and I name that because it is what I am focusing on today. I’ve spent a fair amount of time, dipping into the waters of the endless amount of receipts and documents I have laying around in assorted envelopes, boxes, folders, bags and yes small baggies – YIKES. I don’t like this, I get a headache, I don’t now the proper tax sort they all go into …. and for me I gotz to.

    …. so similar to what you have done….diving in . . . imperfections and all I have spent the last two days sorting the papers into years and then this morning I have sat down and scanned and scanned and scanned . . . sorted and guessed and stared at the pile . . . and mostly I have reminded myself that I just gotta get this year done for now . . . and I just gotta do the best I can and I ask ask Art the brilliant Tax-man about the sorting I don’t get . . . and lastly – when I am done – I will have systems in place that will allow me to spend less time in this drudgery… like when I’m all done, I only have do scan for 1/2 hour a week . . . and then sometimes the headache is bigger 🙂 and really on the bright side…it feels good to learn and get this done.

    ….I spent a year “researching” metal clay before I ever opened a package AND I got my daughter to roll out the first lump of clay and make the very first piece of jewelry ever created in the then Phoenix Rizing studio 🙂 Almost 4 years later, I’m still a little tentative some days.

    Overall I still think that it all comes down to my sense of self confidence and doing what I ‘think’ will be easier, sell better, be more acceptable.

    With taxes – it’s about the belief I have had since I was a girl about being a girl and how it was okay that I was ‘bad’ at math – I didn’t need to be. I could marry a MAN that was good at math and business . . . my father still ‘disapproves’ my business efforts. On some level he gets it and it has been a huge ‘thing’ that rears it’s ugly head.

    With metal clay, jewelry creation, photography – art of any sort…. ohhh I could go on for a while . . . and I will boil it done to this “Artists don’t make money . . . at least not until after they are dead” 🙂

    So clumsily, imperfectly … I recognize those irritating thoughts as they come up and I forge forward . . . they are untrue today. They are old ideas and when I ‘hear’ them . . . I replace them with the sure knowledge that I am capable, resourceful, strong, ingenious, energetic and baby…I’ve come a long way since I was a girl . . . and when I get caught up with these two years, I am gonna hire a bookkeeper 🙂

  6. Marilyn says:

    Stepping outside the comfort zone is so freeing. The one thing that really scares me is talking in front of a group. I come to this thought every time I think of scary things. I haven’t had the opportunity lately, but when it does come along I need to be ready. I know I will grow and be so proud of myself.

    • Rainy says:

      I had to face this one down by taking a speech class at PCC last year. Horrifyingly scary but by the end I felt so much better and so much more assured. Have you ever considered taking one of those Speech 1 classes at your local JC? I never thought about it until I took it, but it had tremendous value way past the end of the course.

  7. ma.ga.zine. terrified. and yet, and yet… as Marilyn wrote, it will be freeing and I will be proud of myself… facing the gremlins… sticking with it in spite of… leaping the gap from scared to excited, then walking right up the hill to Very Excited.

    Thank *you* for all that you do to help yourself and the rest of us to keep at it.

  8. I wish you much luck in “reclaiming the joy”. I like that phrase! Good for you…

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