Category Archives: inspiration

“Create”. What does it mean? How does it work?

OK, I went to for a true definition. I typed in “Create”. The first line on the page was a link to something else, but it said “is you dumb?”. LOL It made me think maybe it thinks we should already know the definition of “create” and why are we asking?

At any rate, there were a few definitions, one of which was: “to cause to come into being, as something unique that would not naturally evolve or that is not made by ordinary processes.” I think this is a pretty close definition for those of us in the “art” world.  I never really thought of myself as an “artist”, but lately when people ask what I do, rather than explain glass, and what I do with it, I find “glass artist” pretty much covers it.

OK, now that I’ve rambled, and we’ve determined we all know what “create” means, my true reason for writing to you today is more on the “How does it work?” portion of the title. Up until 2 weeks ago, I had no clue how it worked. Now that I am unable to get into the studio and create, I know how my creative side works. She works best when she is not allowed to come out and play. Kind of like when you can’t have something, you want it even more. My creative muse is restless, coming up with all of these ideas, things she wants to”create” because she knows darn good and well, I can’t let her out just yet. She’s torturing me with all of these ideas, and I’d bet my next bead sale, she’ll clam up and decide to go on vacation the minute I tell her she can come out and play.

So, for those of you who are having a lapse in creativity, maybe put your muse in time out, then she’ll tease you until you let her out again, and the creativity will begin to flow again. (We hope).

Hugs to all,



Does getting older make you less creative?

Deb posed this question. 

I say no…not less “creative” but certain age related conditions…arthritis, body aches and the like…can certainly interfere with your ability to “express” your creativity in the manner previously established.  

I saw this point illustrated in the portfolio of an elderly, female,  artist named Pat.  She was exhibiting in a small art show in our town (Westmont)    Her works on display were that of  oil and acrylic paintings….but in her portfolio I saw fantastic photos of her sculptural  work.  I  was stunned that she had switched to painting when her 3-d pieces were so wonderful.  That’s when she explained that she could no longer work with the clay.  The cold, clammy material was too hard on her arthritic hands.  The need to create was so strong in her….she needed to switch media to express it.   I found this rather reassuring….since I, myself wonder about the physicalities of felt making on my own muscles, joints and hands.

I imagine it will be frustrating at first……but I have every confidence that there are other mediums that can….and will….speak to me when the time comes.


Tammy Deck ~ Westmont, IL

Art fairs and festivals – an onlooker’s point of view

Sugar Creek Arts Festival. Bloomington-Normal’s claim to fame in the world of artists and their crafts. And I don’t mean “crafts” in a hobby-like manner either. For most of the vendors, this is their bread and butter, their income, their life.

This year is the 25th anniversary of the Sugar Creek Arts Festival, and vendors come from far and wide to participate … provided they’ve satisfied the jury, of course! A friend of mine – a lampworker – had a little trouble satisfying the jury this year. She received a rejection letter. She appealed on the basis that she had established a clientèle from previous years, and she had previously been accepted, and this year she was being told she wasn’t good enough. She got her booth.

I was relaying this story to another artist friend of mine (who has been juried in for the last four years), who said that not accepting the same artists all the time creates a less stagnant festival, which I agree with. However, I also see the point of view of the first artist, who has clients looking for her because the enjoyed their purchase from the previous year and wanted to purchase another item. In 2004 and ’05, I set up a table outside my friends bead store and did lampwork demonstrations. The following year, Di moved her store from Normal to Bloomington, and I lost the opportunity to set up my demo table. I cannot count the number of people I’ve met since who have asked me “will you be demoing at the festival this year?” – I can’t afford a booth fee just to demo, and I don’t have enough stock to sell, so my answer is “unfortunately, no – but you can come to my basement any time!”

I wish I had photos of the festival, but I’m always conscious of the fact that people always think you’re taking pics of their booths to steal their ideas. So I try to stay away from booth or product photos. There are photos for you to see if you click on the first link in this entry – it will take you to the Pantagraph, our local newspaper.

Another thing I’m self-conscious about when visiting fairs or festivals is the “I can make that myself” syndrome. There’s nothing more annoying to a craftsperson – professional or hobbyist – than hearing “You can make that yourself for MUCH less!” Of course you can think those things, but if you’re with me, please don’t vocalize your opinion! As a vendor, I’d probably be indifferent to those comments by now, but still – it’s not polite. Don’t do it! And I heard plenty of it, yesterday!

Of course I gathered ideas! Paris (8) and Ciel (7) quite liked the idea of going home and doing some egg carving. I think we’ll just stick to making rag rugs for now, though!

The festival almost doubled in size a couple of years back when they extended into the ISU quad. This year, it took up the same amount of real estate, but there were noticeably fewer booths. Still, we did have to rush at the end because it was just about to hit 5pm and we hadn’t bought our fresh, made-onsite kettle corn yet! The girls were too busy at the Noodles & Company booth, making noodle necklaces, and we just got to the kettle corn booth as they were packing up. We had arrived an hour after the festival opened at 11am, and now, at 5pm, we found that we hadn’t seen everything there was to see.

One suggestion for the festival coordinators (who do a great job every year!), spread out the children’s activities.  They are all together in one spot, so you look at booths for a long time, then spend a long time waiting for the children to complete all the activities, then spend a long time looking at booths again. Break it up, folks! Give parents a break every so often rather than one long break.

Not having much money to spend, all I could really shop for was ideas. There was only one lampworker on site, my friend Audra. There was lots of glass work, but most stained glass or blown glass. I did get lots of ideas, and the girls each bought a concrete garden plaque. And that was  that!

It was a great day, the predicted thunderstorms luckily didn’t happen. We came home with some great crafts the girls had made, and had a great day to boot! There are pics on my Picasa album, I won’t take up space by putting them here because they’re really not relative to this blog!  Well, maybe just one photo … if you insist ….

Cheese fries on the ISU qhad

Cheese fries on the ISU quad

When creativity has left the building

I had 2 year bout with this…during my father’s losing battle with cancer….and a year later when my business mentor faught and lost her battle in just about the same time frame.  During this period, I felt like a creative slug.  Just going through the motions day to day.

I couldn’t see it at the time…but that’s what actully helped.  I Kept going through my creativity motions.  Kept my hands and eyes working in my medium…even tho my heart was breaking.  Just kept going through the motions.  Kept going into the sewing room.   Kept surrounding myself with my “creativity stuff”.  I even took classes in a new medium (they called it lampwork..hee hee)

Do I feel that I created “art” during this time…nope. 

One day….I was done with grief.  I had a dream that night for a new direction in my felt work….creativity had re-entered the building.  sigh.

I realized after this experience…that I needed regular intervention and peer support.  We tried offering a group with an assignment based approach…it was good for a little while… but then, several of us began to feel angry and down on ourselves (I could never complete my assignments on time!)  After some time had passed…some wounds had healed…we tried again with the group we call  “Creativity Continuum”.   There are no assignments or due dates (unless they are self imposed)  We meet once a month with a “coach” to keep the meeting on task…but we always have an activity….that makes you use your hands differently….your eyes differently….different materials…different approaches.  Our main goal is to keep our creativity muscles moving so we’ll always be ready for the “work-out” when creativity returns….because you know it will be a work-out!


Tammy Deck




I haven’t been feeling very creative lately. On top of all the usual economic woes and job seeking issues, my daughter has been deployed to Iraq. In the midst of learning to deal with being an Army mom my muse seems to have become very quiet. Not altogether silent but pretty danged hard to hear.
So, to work my way around this issue I’ve taken to sitting at my torch and practicing new techniques, or trying techniques that I’ve read about but not been shown.
I haven’t been able to spend as much time as usual at the torch but the latest technique I’ve been playing with has been hollow vessels. I was gifted with a 1/4″ hollow mandrel and, since I like to work small I got some 1/8″ tubing and made 3 more hollow mandrels of that size.
I’ve made about four different vessels so far and I’m enjoying the heck out of it. It’s like I can’t believe I’m making them, you know.
They certainly aren’t ready for selling yet but I will wear the first one I made. That one’s mine and no one else gets it. LOL
No pictures, yet. I want to make a couple more and then take pictures of all of them to show my progress and improvements. All except for the one I had to break off the mandrel because I wasn’t careful enough keeping the bead release all the way to the end of the mandrel. That’s a good lesson learned.
When I’m comfortable I want to make a few Christmas ornaments and then a few hollow globe pendants. The hollow globes are because my daughter sent me 2 carats worth of teeny tiny accent diamonds and I think it would be very cool to put five or six in a globe pendant. And of course, when I mentione my idea to my daughter, she wants one too. LOL


I am asking for your help, our readers, with this as well as asking the members of the Collective.  I have a glass interview that I pretty much like and would like to keep as it is.  But we now have people who do glass but they also do PMC, Felting, wirework, jewelry making too.  I’d like to interview some of those people as the thing that they most like doing.  I can’t imagine interviewing Tammy Deck about beads.  I want to hear everything she has to say about felting because she’s awesome at it.  So help my everyone who reads this please.  Tell me what you’d like to know from people during an interview.  It can be as mundane as the kind of tacos that make them want to felt a Mexican motif.  It can be as essoteric as the art they saw over the last three weeks that all congealed in their brains and now we are going to get …this.

Please let me know what you want to know.  No question is too silly, to invasive too anything.  That’s because I have the editorial approval for them.  LOL  So wanna ask ‘that’ question…we’ll see how it can be phrased to be worked in–or we won’t.  Just give me the question, OK? 

I’d like to do an interview a week with someone.  Doesn’t have to be just glass but it does have to be with us, with outside people, with people who do other things that fit in this groups things.  If YOU’d like to be considered as the Featured Artist, let me know.  Just keep the questions coming, please. And let us know your inspiration too.  You never know what that can start!



Creative Block

What do you do when you have a creative block?

Me I look at fabric samples!What inspiration there is

to be gained from the bright and colorful fabrics.So many wonderful patterns

waiting to be discovered!Even the textures can be inspiring.

I also love the site where you can design your own color pallettes.

I also really enjoy Kandice Seebers color addiction blog.

I really am glad that I don’t see in black and white!