Studio Musings

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Meet Spike and Pete, Creative Block Busters Extraordinare!

Spike, happily swimming through a 'rock stream' in my garden
You might have already caught a peak of Spike in my earlier post for the Time to Stitch challenge about bead embroidery.  Both he and his younger brother Peter (Pete for short) made their official debut in the Summer issue of Creative Spark magazine produced by

 Besides being incredibly fun to stitch, these Happy Fish turned out to be the antidote to a months-long episode of creative block.  After finishing Explorations in Freeform Peyote Beading, I'd promised myself time for personal exploration, where I could play with any design or beading ideas my heart desired.  This included signing up for Robin Atkin's Bead Journal project at the end of last year. 

Fast forward to April, and I still hadn't beaded anything significant, nor made a single bead journal entry.  Aack!  Yes, it had taken significantly longer than anticipated to finish the rewrite/reformatting for the digital versions of Explorations, but that still left several months of creative wasteland.  Looking back, part of the problem was while I said I wanted to 'play', I felt like I should work on a series of large, extremely challenging sculptural pieces.  My creativity simply doesn't work that way.  Not for me. 

Spike, sans sea glass.  Poor Spike!  He's underdressed.

For me, if I promise my creative self play time, then I assign it work, I have a rebellion on my hands.  All of my best work seems to come from little seeds, from saying 'let's just' or 'what if' and from not being too invested in the initial outcome.  Sometimes I forget this personal truth!

Then something like my Happy Fish comes along to remind me.  By the time I settled in to make a piece for Christine and Therese's challenge, I didn't have enough time to make a 'fancy project'.  Combine that with my love for Georgia McMillan's Happy People, and a desire to use sequins a la Sarah of Saturday Sequins, and Gilbert, by first Happy Fish was born. 

Pete shows off his 'plumage'.  Fused glass cabochon by JJ Jacobs
 He was so much fun, I immediately started in on a second fish - this time I wanted to use these really cool stone spike beads I'd picked up last year, but hadn't found a use for yet.  When Hope invited me to participate in the Summer,  sea glass issue for Creative Spark, saying Yes! was a no brainer.  My fish NEEDED sea glass for their tails.  They told me so, really, in no uncertain terms.  They explained that no self-respecting fish would let itself appear in public without their lovely sea glass tails!  (Sorry Gilly) 

And while all this silliness played through my head, I was off and beading again.  Meanwhile, as I worked on the fish, ideas for other projects began appearing, almost as if someone had finally managed to turn the handle of a long-rusted tap.   I've even started work on the first in my new sculptural series. 

Let's hear it for the power of play! 

I'm about ready to start on a new Hapy Fish.  This one is going to have flowers.  Normally, my garden is in full bloom this time of year, but because it's been so hot here in Seattle this summer everything bloomed early, and my poor garden is looking a bit bedraggled. No flowers in my garden?  Well then I'll decorate my fish with flowers!  Even fish would like flowers, right? So why not? 


  1. Wow, Karen! Fantastic fish! They are both amazing, but I love Pete. The sea glass tail is great, and I love the blues and greens.

    This post reminds me that I am putting together a care package for you. Lots of goodies! I'll let you know when I send it out. <3

    1. Thank you Sarah! A friend gave me a glass bottle overflowing with peacock feathers, and I knew I had to make Peter. :0)

  2. I can see why these guys burst through that creative block of yours - they are fantastically fun! Your creative beadwork never ceases to amaze me

    1. For better or worse, I will definitely never be a 'mainstream' beader!

  3. I love these fish so much! You really showed how versatile the sea glass is. Your talent and patience to create such amazing pieces is admirable!

    1. Funny thing is, I looked at the sea glass shards and immediately saw fish fins, clear as day. And butterfly wings. But I'll let someone else do the butterflies. I'm a fish person. The sea glass is such fun to work with!