Original Sigilcraft

When asked, I’ve been describing sigils as ‘symbols with intent’. Though certainly more complex than that, it’s a reasonable explanation in a nutshell, to those unfamiliar with their history and pervasiveness in visual culture. A logo is a sigil, a state seal is a sigil, a cattle brand, graffiti tag or maker’s mark can be a sigil. It is a crafted icon in which power has been invested toward a given outcome. For our purposes, it is a seal impressed upon an object (a personal talisman or ward) to be used as a protective shield or to manifest a desire into being. Although they can be a battery for spiritual energy, the use of a sigil does not require religious belief, it can be viewed as a psychological science.

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Wildcrafting

This whole seasonal cycle has been a roller-coaster, with sharp emotional (political and otherwise) ups and downs, for a variety of reasons – public and private. This late in the year, after so much turmoil in the news and in our communities, it feels numbing just to keep up with the deluge. Like trying to drink water from a fire hose, I feel like I’m fighting just to remain centered. One thing that I’ve found to be a grounding force, however, is a foray into medicine gardens, herbalism and wildcrafting. The quiet times I’ve spent researching, gathering and cultivating have paid for themselves by opening up a space for calmness to creep up, displacing the inner melee.

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The Show Must Go On

So, despite this muckety-muck, the show must go on. There is no place to go but onward. I am practicing mindfulness, stilling internal voices, centering myself into a state of calm. The fire will be put out when it burns up it’s existing supply of oxygen and we deny it further fuel. We remain responsive to the facts as we are presented with them, not the fear that gains a footing through knee-jerk reactions. Slow yourself down to get ahead of this, because the golem is a slow-moving behemoth, and the law of destruction is the reversal of the law of creation. I’m a hopeless optimist at heart, and I still believe that there will be something good to come out of this, though what, I can’t say.

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Forging Ahead

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about working in a retail gallery, is that there’s a constant flow of new jewelry, ceramics, clothing and visual art cycling through. I can study the material and design choices that all these artists have made, note their techniques, even try my hand at a few for practice, or see how they might work with other materials I’m using. It’s like the same kind of insight you’d gain from critiquing in a shared studio space in college. I also love having a reason to get to know all of these folks in person and through social media, as it helps me to talk up their work to potential buyers.

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Resisting the Fear

“I must not fear.Fear is the mind-killer.Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.I will face my fear.I will permit it to pass over me and through me.And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”…

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Logistically Challenged

Even after all the labor involved in designing and making, you still have to document, inventory, price and post to social media and blogs, send an e-newsletter blast, rework your booth display, physically pack it in and out and then man the event. Before that, you paid for the privilege of being there in the first place, or you paid for the web store that you are now left to drive traffic toward, or you work with a gallerist who always has their own ideas for your work, which you then consign. You need many of these to turn a profit, collecting fees seasonally, ebbing and flowing like like sap from a sugar bush, to be boiled down to a staggeringly small, but sweet, profit.

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What the Function?

When it’s time to commit to a course of production, are you supposed to double-down on fabrication or philosophy? I find them to be like the chicken and the egg, feeding endless cycles of speculation on which supersedes the other. I’m not really a jeweler, but a sculptor working in miniature, just like I am not really a sculptor, I’m just an illustrator who doesn’t like static imagery.

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Crystallized

One of the most interesting aspects of ceramics, for me, is that you are literally harnessing chemical forces of nature when firing a kiln. We send people into space in ceramic-tiled rockets, and it’s just about the oldest art form there is. The potential for growing crystal formations in glazes piqued my interest after playing around with Epsom salt accretion and experimenting with other household chemicals that combine to coax mineral gardens out of evaporating liquids and time. Someday I would love to capture these inside a glass bubble for wear, but as yet they’ve proved too fragile to tolerate such abuse.

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Ritual Space-Time

It’s such a challenge to manifest the space and time to labor when there’s no immediate paycheck attached to the investment and the goal is a moving target. It’s a certainty that I’m always teetering on some quixotic precipice, and that plenty of family and some friends will shake their heads in private, but that’s okay. It may take months or even years to reorder creative process in a truly productive way after major life events. In the last few years, I’ve completed an MFA, had two kids, got married, bought a house as well as volunteered and toiled to earn my keep. At this point in time, success is any progress in the work, however small, so long as you don’t succumb to creative attrition and give up entirely.

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