May 27, 2008

The Beauty of Process

So, today a friend and fellow blogger has asked for his readers to show him the most beautiful things that they have created. And I have spent the better part of the morning and afternoon thinking about what that my most beautiful creation is. And this is a very difficult question, for a maker of things, I think. I started thinking about the many, many physical things I have created in my lifetime. The clay sculptures, pottery, beads, jewelry, even paintings and drawings from when I was young. And it is almost impossible for me to choose one object, it seems, as I feel as if I am playing favorites. I do believe that I make beautiful things, and I do it regularly. This inability to answer is not a lack of confidence or dismissal of myself. I have formed a business around making beautiful things, and people compliment me often and tell me that my creations make them happy, and they tell me that they are beautiful. I suppose if pressed and I had to pick some actual objects, I would say the highly carved ceramic Birdbath I made in college, which I don't have a good picture of in its entirety. Or perhaps more recently, the FaerieCon Necklace I made last year that started a whole new line of work for me. In terms of the bigger picture, I could say my Website which might not be very beautiful from a graphic designer or web designer perspective, but *I* made it, and learned to do it on my own, and it has made me able to function in my business in a whole new way. I guess, my business itself is one of the most beautiful things I have made, because it encompasses all of the things I make, the beads, the jewelry, the writing, the booth display, the website...all of it. But these things are representitive of a bigger concept.
Thinking more deeply on this question, "what is the most beautiful thing I have made?" I am thinking about what is the core of the true beauty of things I have made. And for me the answer is Process. I do not want to dwell in the physical material things of Beauty. They are important, and wonderful, yes...but they are really only by-products of the real beautiful thing to me, which is the process used to create them. The Craft, if you will. The objects are mere symbols, physical manifestations, of the real core of Beauty. This is why I don't outsource my work, why I make every item by is the Process that draws me in, not the product. And while I do have to deal with the physical product (aka sell it to make a living) it is really secondary to the things I love: placing my hands in clay, my paintbrush in glaze, my tools on wire and beads... the moments where everything else falls away and it is just me and the materials and my thoughts and the pure joy of creating.
The pictures today are from a Tibetan Sand Mandala Ceremony. In this ceremony, colored sands are carefully arranged in amazingly detailed sand "paintings"... sometimes the process takes days. But at the end, it is dissolved, destroyed... the sands that were so carefully and painstakingly placed are swept up into one muddy mass. And this is just as much of the process as the placing of the sand. Because it is the Process that creates the Beauty, and it is momentary, and it passes, and this is what makes it Beautiful.

Art = Beauty = Process = Craft


  1. that was so eloquent and perfectly stated. for me, too, the pleasure comes from the process and not with the completion. when i paint it's as if my eyes and thoughts flow out the tips of my fingers thru the brush, mix with the paint, and end up on the paper. i am usually not one for comments, but am a faithful reader of your blog. thanks for all the thoughtful and beautiful entries.

  2. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and for reading regularly. I write to jhelp myeself sort through things, but it is nice to hear that others are readign and feeling my words too. Sometimes it feels incredibly self indulgent...

  3. The mandala process is my former life I used to map I've always loved breaking things down into simple units and then stringing them back...your prose was wonderful in this entry..."the moments where everything else falls away and it is just me and the materials..." of luck at the Show...I've enjoyed your venture into Steam Punk...never realized how much I enjoyed it previously (just watched "Treasure Planet" and "Atlantis" Disney flicks with my son, again...and realized what I liked about them...the atmosphere)...I can hardly wait to see the photos from the show.

  4. AKB's Mama,
    thank you so much for your thoughts and for reading. And I am glad you are enjoying the steampunk journey, I am absolutely obsessed with it, the whole philosophy really speaks to me. I will try my hardest to take pics at the show!

  5. I was lucky enough to see the work of the monks as they completed a huge mandala in my city. I admired how they could create such a beautiful thing over so many hours and then just literally whisk it away!

    what an excellent example to use!

    I am glad you are "self-indulgent" enough to post things like this!

  6. Oh i would love to see such a thing in person. I am finding myself more and more inspired by Eastern thought and philosophy lately.

    thanks for reading!