Order, Chaos, and a Productive Cough

There’s something oddly satisfying about hacking luscious, buttery Ultrasuede into bits. After spending so much time at the computer lately, cutting class components offered a welcome respite last week. 

But don’t think this level of order reigns throughout my realm. Here’s what my desk looked like one morning last week before I tidied. It’s time to clean up again.

Still, it’s a wonderful kind of minor chaos, filled with possibilities. I know students are looking forward to the classes I’m preparing for. And I always look forward to seeing what they do with the ideas and materials they find ready and waiting when they walk through the door.

When I walk into my studio, that sense of possibility is a balm for my spirit. I’ve been spending more time than usual at the computer working with formats that are new to me. That, of course, means making mistakes and false starts, then backtracking to fix things, and eventually starting over from scratch once I know what I’m doing.

I spent some time in the studio last week pondering this question: Why do I feel fine with mistakes and false starts in my artwork but not so much in the office? In my artwork, I know that time isn’t wasted, that it’s necessary to do that work to get to work that shines with possibility. It’s productive — sort of like the kind of cough that clears your lungs so you can breathe again.

In the office, it’s always been harder for me to get a sense of creative satisfaction out of mistakes and false starts. I guess I need to alter the picture in my head of what productivity looks when it involves a keyboard and mouse.

In the meantime, I find it oddly satisfying to hack Ultrasuede to bits. What do you do?

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Donna Kallner

fiber artist, teacher and explorer, inspired by ancient fiber techniques and all the ways contemporary fiber artists give old ideas a new spin