Mask and Framework String Together

An authentic African mask dangling from a single strand of seeds inspired me. You know how it is when one hears “the call.”

In a fit of bead frenzy I pulled out shells, old brass spacers, some tubular gray vintage African trade beads and designed a three strand presentation that spoke to the depths of my soul.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, The Mask

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, The Mask

Questions bubble: What is the history behind masks? What is the function of enthic jewelry today? I wanted to know more.

My love for vintage African trade beads, apparent to all readers of this blog, prompts the historical view. My respect for beads used as barter, symbols of status and culture and a means of exchange continues to grow.

Even classes I’ve chosen to take support the historical theme. Earlier this year at “To Bead True Blue” in Tucson, I enjoyed Merilou Jenkins’, “Elements of Jewelry Design,” a class in which she prompted participants to consider contrast in size and texture.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan & Merilou Jenkins February 7, 2014

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan & Merilou Jenkins February 7, 2014

Similarly, in a video entitled “Creative Cloth,” 80-year-old author, weaver and artist Anita Luvera Mayer, outlines a process she uses to create. A light bulb moment happened when I heard Anita’s five steps:

  1. Define the question or the project
  2. Establish the criteria
  3. Research
  4. Incubate (up to six months)
  5. Edit

As I looked at the series of notebooks Anita has created over the years, the parallels for my own creative journey suddenly became apparent.

While I haven’t developed a process, per se, in “research” mode, I turn to books. Here, for example, is a portion of my library about ethnic jewelry.

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, ethnic jewelry library

©2014, Mary Ellen Merrigan, ethnic jewelry library

Creating a replicable framework needs a process such as the one Anita provides. I’m enthused with the parallels these steps offer. In a few days, I’ve already benefited from putting my own framework in place. I relate “The Notebook” to other business efforts I’ve successfully completed. Previously, I placed my notes in Evernote, an app that I run on all platforms.

When I consider my various art projects, I realize there’s a huge value to the implementation of physical notes. So, I’ve begun four notebooks: treasure neckaces (my favorite ongoing project), ethnic jewelry, cards, and Studio Spirit.

Based on the categories of projects, I sense there are three different things happening simultaneously: designing, making, finishing.

It began with the mask. The mask connects to a framework that allows for replication of the process. As I suss it out, I’ll keep you informed.

Do you have a framework to catalyze creativity?