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Re: [Orchid] Goldsmith is the state of mind, not a profession
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Dar Shelton Sunday, May 01, 2011
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    As usual, I haven't read much of the thread I'm responding to, I just
    read a little something and start thinking, and then typing, half-
    baking the idea as I go. I'm not necessarily applying any of this to
    any of you nice folks, because it's definitely more about the way I
    am, and the way I used to be, which was very rooted in deriving
    self-worth from my talent and abilities as an artist and craftsman. I
    was not what you could call 'balanced' in my (mostly wasted) youth,
    so I wasn't able to derive that all-important self-worth from areas
    where normal, healthy-minded people do ; almost all of it came from
    the obsessive and perfectionistic outlook on my work, which was, at
    the time, silversmithing, jewelry modelmaking, and a bit

    My first thought upon reading the bit of this thread that I did (too
    late for the video) was along the lines of not just goldsmithing
    being a state of mind, but of almost anything and everything we do
    potentially being grounded in a similar, exalted state of mind;
    placed in the category that we put the results of our finest efforts
    into. Now, I don't actually spend much time marvelling at/in the
    Uber-Zen of brushing my teeth or watering the yard, but I'm sure it
    isn't any real stretch to see how we can operate from that same
    state of mind, that same energy, or what I think of as a state of
    grace, in many activities that are not associated with jewelry. At
    least I don't think it should be a stretch, because I find myself
    doing it 'all the time' doing 'ordinary' things. 

    I have to work to remember how screwey my thinking used to be, and
    it's hard to think that way now, and why would I want to ?. Now, it
    serves as a contrast and a reminder of how much I've evolved; I
    haven't made any mind-bogglingly intricate, precise jewelry (or any
    jewelry) for at least ten years, and I still like myself. There's
    the difference, and an opportunity to avoid swirling down the
    self-help-cliche drain too far : I actually like myself now, but I
    didn't 'back then'. I would excitedly design a piece and not enjoy
    making it, taking joy only in dreaming of the final product, and
    basking in the glory of it, but hating the process sometimes. I made
    some very detailed pieces, but didn't enjoy actually working on all
    those details. I designed things that were impractical to make and
    impractical to wear ; there was something big missing from the
    middle, with a lot of clutter and confusion there instead. I spent
    hours hand filing and sanding areas that nobody would ever notice the
    difference of, much lass care about it, and even less, think less of
    me if I hadn't spent all that time on it, if they somehow found out
    I hadn't. 

    This kind of anal-perfectionist, obsessive attention to detail came
    in handy for the modelmaking, no doubt about it, and I enjoyed that
    part of that particular job, but that job also came with boatloads
    of mind-numbing, brain-dead, mass -production bench work; enough so
    that I became burned out on jewelry making. Omitting the legendary
    saga of how my life changed (for the much-worse, and now the
    much-better), I still get to be a perfectionist in my work ; there's
    a healthy outlet for the obsessiveness, but it doesn't define me the
    way it used to. I can have balance because there is a larger context
    for the creativity and need to do good work. 

    The creative urge seems to come from a place of appreciation for
    beauty, not some sense of incompleteness that may be fulfilled by
    the process of creation, as may happen with some people. Instead of
    trying to achieve (what I call) a state of grace through creativity,
    I find myself in states of grace and beauty and appreciation, and
    operate from those places. What I'm doing doesn't determine my state
    ; instead, my state determines how I look at what I'm doing. I don't
    have to be creating an object of beauty to be beautifully creative
    (but since I have good taste, a lot of what I do looks good ). There
    can be beauty of motion in things like raking leaves or painting
    logs with asphalt; it may not look like ballet, but seemingly
    ordinary activities like this can be performed artistically. It
    isn't about art, it's about operating from the place where art comes
    from, which is the place of beauty, and the place of beauty comes
    from the state of grace, which, to me, has a mystical, metaphysical,
    spiritual context. 

Dar Shelton

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