Friday, December 29, 2006

Time Between Years

With a house as cluttered as the inside of my head, I've had an incessant feeling that I'm spinning in circles, getting nowhere. Everything for my current projects has been sitting out, no place to put anything away, projects piled on projects, all vying for attention, so I spent the past 3 days of my holiday break cleaning out closets, reorganizing.

The box in the photo is full of craft supplies from old projects and whimsical things I bought to several years ago-- finger paints, feathers, colored modeling clay and sequined princess crowns-- all to infuse my artistic life, and life in general, with more playful creativity. I've come to the place where I'm ready to part with these, to pass them along to someone else. My art and music are happening freely. I'm happy with the directions things are taking. If the time comes again when I need to resupply, I'll have room to go out and buy new things chosen for the present.

I cleaned out the closet in my studio/office so I can have materials close at hand for sending out mailings. Also, cleared a big space in the bottom of the closet to store 2 small rolling file cabinets, one for my current songwriting files, the other for research/writing files for the growing book/workshop project. This will get them out of the middle of the living room and guestroom. I find that having projects in portable boxes or light-weight rolling file cabinets helps me to take things out when I'm working on them, and put them away when I'm not. That's the vision, the ideal.

Feels good to make my surrounding better reflect where my life is headed right now, to clear away the thick residue of years past. I'm hoping all this work will make my surroundings, and my insides, feel more serene and help me to reach my goals.

©2006 Kay Pere - Effusive Muse Publishing

Tuesday, November 7, 2006


Word for the day: throwing.

Throwing out old music educator magazines I'd been saving for the articles, some since 1998, after tearing out just the parts I wanted and filing them. My bookcases are beginning to have room for more important things. Much more to do.

Throwing a pottery bowl today on the kick-wheel out in the barn, doors open looking out on gray sky, green lawn and almost leafless trees beyond. Just as I finished the bowl, the temperature started to drop, from 60F earlier to 53F, the wind and rain came. Brrrrrr. I was damp from the water and clay. Had to clean up quickly, hurry inside and take a hot shower. I'm a wimp when it comes to cold. Really need to check out getting that propane heater and lights.

Getting ready to throw my hat back into the business marketing/promotion ring at another level. I've begun learning to use Constant Contact in preparation for sending out a monthly e-newsletter. I'm still several steps away, but the goal is in sight.

I've been thrown off a bit the past few days. Haven't heard from friend who was out on the road, going through a tough time. I hope she's OK.

I really need to take a day to throw caution to the wind and go out on an adventure myself. I've been delaying, not sure why.

PS - A clarification. I'm actually recycling all the old magazines. Three paper grocery bags full, so far.

I'm a fanatic when it comes to recycling. I pick through the trash here at home to find things that others didn't take the time to put in the recycling bin. The thought of recyclable and reusable things going to the landfill really bothers me. I'm sort of weird that way.

Same thing for wasted food. Very little gets thrown away here if I can help it. Scraps either go to the cats, if they're meat or dairy, or into the compost pile if they're plant matter or eggshells.

I thought about saving the magazines for collages, but it just felt better to make a clean start this time.

©2006 Kay Pere - Effusive Muse Publishing

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Completion / Reflection

Late fall. This is the time for quiet reflection that follows, and precedes, intense activity.

It's been a hugely busy fall for me, a giant project recently completed and awaiting response. It's also been a time of repeated illness--colds, laryngitis, fevers, allergies--fortunately over now. The two, combined, left little time for contemplative writing, outside of the occasional journal entry or email sent to friends.

Gaia Luna Garden has been put to bed for the season. Its protective circle is closed for now. The harvest is over, except for a few herbs remaining until the first hard frost comes.

My pottery tools and supplies have been brought in from the Art Barn. I may still use the kick wheel on days when the weather is warm enough. A propane heater and overhead lighting for the space are being considered. They might enable me to work out there even when the snow comes. It's a drafty old barn, though. I don't know if any heater could warm it effectively. The only way to find out may be to try.

Now that one big project is behind me (or the launch pad phase of it anyway), I'm beginning to look toward harnessing that energy to reach other goals.

Before I proceed, though, I need to take time to capture the many ideas and competing goals circling in my mind these days, to listen attentively for what they might tell me.

It’s imperative to write down my goals, ideas, and wishes as they occur. Certain ideas arise only in specific circumstances. I’ve set traps for these, all around the house, built from stacks of blank 3x5 cards and piles of sharpened pencils. I ensnare ephemeral intentions, transcribing them as they coalesce, quickly, before they can evaporate into a fog of recollection and a chalky residue of regret.

I’ve tried writing these things down in long lists, on pads of paper, in composition books, or in my Palm software on my computer. These lists quickly become outdated, stagnant.

3x5 cards seem to be a practical solution. I can add to them flexibly, prioritized them tactilely, spread them out in front of me to examine in a variety of groupings and chronologies.

My growing deck of cards is a computer-free, 3-dimensional database of ideas, in keeping with my preferred, off-the-grid, web-like creative process.

This time of reflection is an important preparation for the next cycle of activity, in the time before it begins again. Perhaps it will add depth and meaning to my creative work.

Action will follow again when the time is right, when I make the choice to move ahead, or when the next idea comes and chooses me to give it life.

(c)2006 Kay Pere -- Effusive Muse Publishing

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


I'm about to head out the work in the barn glazing about 60 Sacred Shards pendants, plus a dozen labyrinth pocket stones and another dozen or so word stones.

So I thought it was time to share some photos.

Standing inside Gaia Luna, looking past the "South/Fire/Summer" stone, the barn is visible in the background. The plants, from left to right, are eggplant and marjoram, basil in the background, with a few weeds sprinkled in between.

My view from inside the Sacred Shards Art Barn. This is the same door visible in the photo above. My kickwheel in the foreground and an improvised work bench on the right. That's where I'll be sitting to work in just a few minutes.

On Saturday I passed a yard sale at a very old farm near here. I needed a scale to weigh my clay (for making vessels of about the same size on the wheel). This one was so rusted that the green paint was completely hidden and the tile on the top is cracked, but it still works! After a bunch of scrubbing a little WD40 it was ready to take it's place in the Art Barn atop a set of shelves from the same sale. Total cost: $5.

My gardening tools on the side of the barn opposite my work bench. I like to arrange them like this. It has a peacefulness about it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

SACRED SHARDS: Messy Momentum

Finally, a photo.

That wasn't so difficult! Digital camera connected by cable to PC, copy image from camera to PC, upload to blog. Hurray!

Our dining room table has become a production space this week. The reddish brown and white items at the left of the photo are bisque fired pottery pieces waiting to be glazed and high fired. The chocolatey looking pieces on the right are unfired pendants in various stages of drying. The darkest pieces were just made this morning.

In the past 2 days I've sculpted 38 more Sacred Shards pendants, in between teaching lessons and barely tending to household needs.

When I'm in the active (versus contemplative) phase of the creative process the house ends up looking like there was a combined explosion in a laudry mat, convenience store and art supply store.

Eventually, things cycle around to the domestic/practical side. The bills get paid, the laundry washed and put away, the pile of dishes in the sink washed and the refrigerator restocked. The house will eventually return to a state of order, though only temporarily.

If I derail the creative process with "shoulds", like cleaning, precious momentum is lost and nothing moves forward.

A mess is a small price to pay.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Herding Turtles

Recently, I was commiserating with an artist friend who also prefers to work on multiple projects at one time.

She said she spends time each day on many different things, but feels like it's taking forever to bring anything to completion.

I said, "Right! It's like herding turtles. The turtles and I are all headed somewhere. We're just not getting there very fast."

The up side is that at this pace the turtles (my projects) don't go astray very quickly either.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

SACRED SHARDS: Pottery Pilgrimage

I'm happy to report that I'm about to head out to the barn to work at my pottery wheel for the first time. I've had it for over a month, but things keep getting in the way.

Today, I've loaded all my pottery things into my garden cart and I'm about to make the pilgrimage out to the new work space. I'll spend the afternoon out there at the wheel and hand building with no interruptions.

Very exciting!

I'm slowly transforming the barn from a junky storage space full of dust and spiders to a functional Art Barn facing out onto the field and Gaia Luna.

The rustic wood and antique tools in the interior are an inspiration. Parts of it were built over 100 years ago. The family who originally owned the land lived in the central section of the barn, where my wheel is now, while they were building the house.

I spent all day Tuesday cleaning out one of the stalls to make room for ... whatever develops from this. Found 5 old horse shoes that had been sitting upside down in a corner, and gave them a place of honor, lucky side up on a wooden ledge inside the barn, arranged with a small heart shaped stone from Gaia Luna.

Quotes for today:

"There is no shame in happiness."
-- Albert Camas

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart."
-- Rilke


Thursday, April 27, 2006

SACRED SHARDS: A Beneficent Boss

Today I'm engaged in repetitive work, putting together packaging, assembling necklaces, stitching beads on baskets, and sitting at the computer for hours to work on graphics. I enjoy all this, up to a point. I have to use distraction and bribery to get myself through this last phase of the creative process when it requires assembly line work or being chained to a computer for hours.

This last phase of the creative process* is called proliferation. It involves reproduction, packaging, and marketing a creative work.

This last phase of the creative process is the most neglected among artist and musicians. We create because we like to make something new out of ideas and raw materials. Many of us also create because we hope the things we make will be meaningful or at least entertaining to others. But no one will encounter our work unless it's given legs of its own to venture beyond the confines of the artist's studio.

As an artist/musician/writer/educator, I work for myself, by myself, most of the day. I'm learning to be sensitive to the needs of my creative process, while running a small business.

I'm the business manager, but I'm also the art department, marketing consultant, accountant, admin support, public relations, product development, travel agent, computer tech, database manager, licensing/legal, print shop, mail room, purchasing agent, inventory control, and cafeteria chef, all rolled into one. As business manager I'm required to be financially responsible, organized, plan ahead and follow through even when it isn't any fun.

Managing my creative side, really allowing time for it to manage me, requires a completely different set of skills.

Creative work in it's earliest stages has to be play or it just doesn't happen. When I sit down at the piano to write or slice off a fresh slab of clay to sculpt, I don't know what I'm going to end up with, if anything. Results are far from guaranteed. It's all about enjoying the process, following it where it leads. I start with raw materials, a stretch of time and an image or a concept or a feeling or nothing at all. Things progress spontaneously rather than sequentially.

Sometimes, after several hours of intense effort, all I have is a better idea of where I might be going and a pile of pages covered with scribbled words, or used up materials that have to be tossed out. Sometimes the results are so unexpected that I feel as if they've arrived by divine providence.

Creative play/work doesn't follow a typical business model.

A good boss for a creative person plans for spontaneity by not packing the schedule too tightly. A good boss for a creative person arranges for abundant materials to be on hand and easy to find. A good boss for a creative person shields the artist from concerns about finances and marketability while the artist is developing something new.

A good boss for a creative person actually realizes that the artist is the employer, not the other way around.

Am I the kind of boss I enjoy working for? A Beneficent Boss?

That depends.

I try to be a good boss. When I'm working intently, I try to remember to give myself breaks to get up and stretch, get some food and take care of other necessities. I try to see that I work in a studio, not an office. I try to stay focused on deeper motivations: to be happy, to make a difference in the world, and hopefully have something for paying the bills.

Unfortunately, there are times when I'm a slave driver. The slave driver insists on doing one more thing, then another and another, before I'm allowed to stop for lunch. The slave driver forgets about the artist's need for unscheduled time and makes too many commitments. The slave driver is all about practical applications and marketability, all the time. The slave driver demands that the work space is perfectly picked up and the To-Do List is completely crossed off before the artist is allowed to play.

The slave driver boss threatens to take possession of the artist's successful creations by setting expectations for the artist to produce the same work over and over.

The artist is not a factory worker.

Today, I'm an artist working the assembly line of proliferation. I'm bridging the gap between creating in seclusion and putting a tiny piece of art into the hands of someone who will enjoy it.

I'm pretending not to be doing something repetitious. I'm distracting myself by writing this little essay while the box inserts for Sacred Shards necklaces come out of the printer by the dozens.

Is this efficient? For me it is.

In a little while, I'll rent a couple of sappy movies and pile a plate with snacks, then sit down to cut the box inserts to size, hand stamp 50 or 60 box lids, assemble necklaces, and sew beads on baskets. There'll be a break to teach a couple of voice lessons early in the evening. Then it's back to the assembly shop for a couple hours to meet a deadline coming up this weekend.

If I do this, the good boss has promised me some uninterrupted time to write songs, play with clay and dig in the garden. Just as soon as this big push is all over. I'm trusting the good boss to follow through.

:-), Kay

* For more on the phases of the creative process [Creation, Realization, and Proliferation] see Bill Pere's articles at:

COPYRIGHT 2006 - Effusive Muse Publishing

Monday, April 17, 2006

HEART&SPIRAL: Why Title Everything?

I thought it might be good to provide some explanation about the titles I'm using in this blog.

I'm not a person who's content to do only one thing. So I've come up with names for the different aspects of my creative/artistic/musical life. Makes more sense to me that way. Helps me to keep straight on what I'm doing at any given moment, but might be confusing for others without some sort of Rosetta stone to help decipher.

People ask me what I do. Here's the breakdown.

HEART&SPIRAL: This is name for that swirly logo thing made out of my initials. It's also an over arching concept of creative flow, spiritual journey toward center, etc. And it's the name of my band. Everything else I do, no matter how it's named, falls under HEART&SPIRAL.

SOUND KRAYONS MUSIC: This is my teaching studio. I offer voice instruction and coaching, workshops, song writing and performance coaching, music theory and piano instruction.

SACRED SHARDS: This is my pottery business. Also includes some mixed media work.

KEYS FOR A CAUSE an organization I founded to unite keyboard playing performing songwriters, coast-to-coast (US) and internationally, to present events and recordings benefiting local social services as an outreach of LUNCH (Local United Network to Combat Hunger).

GAIA LUNA: a sacred space garden being created to celebrate the cycles of earth and moon, and the traditions of women. All this is described in more detail on my website:

:-), Kay

Saturday, April 15, 2006

SACRED SHARDS: Independent!

Exciting news! Today I was approved to be an independent artist at the pottery studio where I've been going since February.

This means that I can go work there anytime someone is in the office to hand out the key (usually 8 AM-9PM). Now I can work for as long as I want, totally unsupervised. My creative flow won't be interrupted anymore by the end of a class. I can make use of the studio slab roller and all the special glazes. I can fire my pieces in the studio kiln. All for a very small fee that amounts to the cost of daily cup of really cheap coffee.

I set this goal for myself several months ago. Feels good to have reach it!

It's the beginning of many new and wonderful things.

:-), Kay

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Sacred Shards

Sacred Shards: Artifacts of the Spirit
Unearthed to Tell Their Stories
Hand-Sculpted Stoneware by Kay Pere

I'm going public with my pottery. Not in the stock market sense. Public in the sense that my pottery pieces are now in a store where people can buy them without me being present. I've been selling them for the past 6 months at shows, but now they're taking on a life of their own.

Now I'm officially being refered to in the press as a Musician/Artisan. Sorta kool!

The new store is "Simply Sage" on Rt.1 in Stonington. I'll be doing a concert for their official grand opening celebration on Sunday 4/30 at 2:00 PM. More info on address, etc. soon

When there are photos of the pottery posted on the website, I'll put the link here.