I want to make a confession, because I feel like it’s going to be cathartic. So here it goes: I have a slight addiction. To shopping.
It’s not what you’re thinking. I don’t have a thing for shoes or a complete inability to resist a bargain in general. It’s mostly just… well… art supplies. I am completely psychologically incapable of going into a store full of art supplies and coming out with the same amount of cash in my wallet that I had going in.
You might think that’s not a bad thing for an artist, considering we do tend to burn through art supplies rather rapidly. I’ve made three runs for additional supplies (the actual necessary kind, not the “I must have that because it is there” kind) just this week. The trouble with art supplies as a consumer product is that when you’re wandering through the art store you’re not just looking at products on a shelf, you’re looking at the potential for genius. Or at very least the potential for a good time. You can be looking at a tube of paint or a block of clay or a pair of round-nosed pliers, but what you’re actually seeing is the finished product.
This is the problem with artists. We have vivid and sometimes detailed imaginations. We can see that finished piece in our mind’s eye, and we simply must have those components that are necessary for the creation of whatever it is we think we’re going to create. And if we haven’t worked in that medium before and really don’t have the first idea how we might turn that collection of raw materials and tools into the thing we see in our heads, well… in my case, at least, reality rarely gets in my way.
Which is why, as you might imagine, my work space consists of a desk, a lamp, and a bunch of bins and containers full of things that I haven’t figured out how to use yet. When I was a kid things came very easily to me and I’m still in the process of training myself to embrace the learning curve… to understand that when I try a new medium for the first time, what I produce probably isn’t going to be a great work of art or the vision I see in my head or even necessarily something that’s going to make decent kindling. So while I’m always excited by all the possibilities of a new art form — and perhaps too excited over all the associated equipment you can buy in shiny, promise-filled packages from the art supply store — I often find myself incredibly intimidated by the same things once I get them home. Sometimes I give them a try and give up for awhile in frustration. Sometimes I don’t even get around to the trying part and they just sit, still neatly packaged, waiting for me to work through my neuroses.
Recently I decided that I was going to start working my way through those supplies. I decided to start with the box I’d labeled “WIRE,” which was filled with little spools of wire in different gauges and pliers (mostly of the wrong sort). I checked out a few books on wire-wrapped jewelry from the library so I could figure out the essential skills, determined that I’d need to make one last fortifying trip to the craft store to get a couple more pairs of pliers that every book seemed to agree I would need, and then I sat myself down at the table and decided that I would create something. I would create something that would probably just go straight into the garbage, but what the hell, the wire hadn’t been that expensive (at some point I’d extended my shopaholicness to the hardware store, where they had wire galore). And it’d just mean that I had less art supplies sitting around, making me feel guilty for my non-use of them and for my shopping addiction problem. So I cut a few lengths of wire and attempted to make a few basic shapes and loops and mostly ended up with mangled chunks of wire that couldn’t even be called “abstract.” (One of them did sort of look like a sea urchin, though.)
Normally at that point I’d be experiencing a strong urge to browse for something more cooperative at the art supply store. But what the hell, I was comfortable, I had some Doctor Who on the telly (you have to say “on the telly” when you’re watching British television, it’s required) and bending wire is actually kind of fun as random activities go. Plus I had that image in my head. The finished product. And by all that was good and holy, I was going to create that thing I’d envisioned. So I took my pliers and that copper wire and I bent and twisted and turned and cursed and pricked myself so hard with the end of a wire that I bled kind of profusely and then… then I had this.
It was a little rough. And it was also awesome. It was just what I wanted. It was kind of better than I’d originally planned for. It was a first effort but I figured somebody out there might want it, so I put it up on my Etsy shop and pointed to it from Facebook and asked my friends whether I had created something they would enjoy. I haven’t sold that original quite yet (you can remedy this by buying it, lolz!), but I have sold quite a few others, both one at a time and in large orders. I suddenly seem to be spending a lot of my time making little wire horses. And finally, finally, I have an excuse to go shopping for art supplies. It’s not a compulsion, it’s just that I genuinely need more colors of wire! It’s not my fault!
If you’d like to get a little wire pony to decorate your Christmas tree (or rearview mirror, or whatever other things you like to hang decorative items from, I do not even want to know) please feel free to drop by my Etsy store and order one! I also do custom work that’s made to order, and am working on some designs for cats, dogs and other adorableness. (Perhaps an echidna! Or a capybara with a little wire monocle!) Honestly, the more I can move this wire out of here the sooner I can move on to some other stack of art supplies that I’ve been neglecting… maybe I’ll try the scratchboard next. Or the linocuts. Or the watercolors. Or the acrylics.