From Writing To Sculpting: There Was Only One Step
My first and only interests have always been reading and writing. And before I could read, it was listening. My favourite book as a child was Enid Blyton's "The Secret Seven Adventure" which was read to me by my dad at every opportunity and which I knew by heart, so much so, that I would tell him off if he skipped lines or entire paragraphs; I wanted to listen, not sleep.
I wrote my first "story" (that I have memory of) when I was 6 years old when I was in the 1st form. The story was in English, about a paragraph long and it was about a bird named Today, drawing included. The story was a play on words between the bird's name Today and the adverb today, where I told the story of my friend and I coming back from school to play with Today, but upon walking into the lounge we found the cage was open and Today was gone and the story ended with something like "I knew then that, tomorrow wouldn't be the same because Today was gone." Today, the bird, was a metaphor for life, for time, for today. I remember getting very upset when my teacher didn't understand. I explained it to her, but she still didn't understand. At the time I didn't know the word metaphor or what a metaphor was, or I would have used it. And my frustration was so deep, that I cried when I went home.
How could she not understand it? It wasn't very clear to me why. And I think that frustration triggered something within me that pushed me to write better. I wanted people to understand what I had to say.
Growing up I wrote a lot of things. For a long time, my thing were short phrases that would help me through the day, or about things I had learned that day. I kept a diary from a very early age, where I downloaded my emotional burdens and I still have some of my childhood pages with me. I also wrote poems, songs and short stories, either made up stories or my adventures with my brother and cousins. The first song I ever wrote (with music and all) was about a guardian angel; I was 8 years old. I used to enter competitions and my language teachers loved what I wrote and praised me all the time. However, I never believed a word they said and thought they were just being polite.
When I was about 13/14 years old I started to play the guitar, so my writing shifted into writing songs almost entirely and I gave some of my early poems, music. I loved it. I had found yet another way to do what I loved. But I daydreamed about writing longer stories. I dreamed of writing entire books like Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Paulo Coelho.
For some bizarre reason, I seemed to be under the impression that writers were born, not made. That they were born from a golden egg in a secret island with absolute knowledge of what their books were going to be; that all they had to do was sit down with pen and paper, write one word after the other with their golden hands, and the story would just simply come to life.
In that light, I couldn't be a writer, because no matter how much I looked at my hands, they weren't golden and no one had come to knock on my door and say I was born from a golden egg on Writer Island. Many times I tried writing long stories, but I never got past a few pages. I was 14 and I believed I didn't have experience, not in writing, but in life. I was young and I believed my lack of stories (or length and development) to be a lack of experiences. So I stuck to songs, and they stayed with me throughout all my adolescence years and early twenties. They helped me cope with so many drastic changes in my life like moving country or a broken heart. My main influences at the time were Alanis Morisette, Shakira, The Cranberries, Bryan Adams and even Enya.
So how does one get into sculpting from only having written stories and songs?
When I moved to England in 2010 and my fiancee and I decided to live together, my only interest was of course, writing. When he was at work or engaged in hobbies of his own, I found myself lonelier than I had ever been because my family was miles away from me and sometimes writing wasn't what I needed at the time. My mother in law, who is an artist, suggested I tried PMC or Precious Metal Clay.
She gave me books and DVDs she had or even bought for me, so I bought some materials and gave it a go. Working with precious metal clay as a beginner was very hard for me. The only experience I had with clay was using play-dough when I was a kid. Precious Metal Clay was particularly difficult to work with because it dried rather quickly and that made me very anxious. I planned every step in advance, knowing I couldn't trip anywhere.
Also, I didn't want to waste money on expensive kilns or torches if I wasn't going to like it, so I used the stove. I didn't make many pieces, maybe 6, but I think only a couple survive. I broke or ruined most of them. I wasted a lot of money and in the end I grew uninterested.
So then she suggested Fimo.
I didn't even know what Fimo was and then there wasn't the amount of information there is today. She also gave me booklets on how to make simple cake-topper looking bears or things like that. I bought a few blocks of FIMO at the local craft shop and gave that a go. The first thing that I noticed was that I had all the time in the world to work with the clay, I didn't have to hurry!
Because PMC gives off fumes when it cures, I always had to do it in a well ventilated area, so when I found out that polymer clay was different, that it could be baked in a kitchen oven and it would only be potentially toxic if it burned, I was delighted!
I can't remember exactly what I made first, but I think it was a pair of round and flat stripy earrings after watching a tutorial on how to stack sheets of clay to get a stripy effect. The woman in the video made buttons out the clay, whereas I didn't need buttons so I made earrings. I also made cupcake charms, tortoises, flowers and weird looking food. I soon discovered that my interest, when it came to miniature food, lied solely on cakes and sweet things. I felt like I could turn those into fun pieces of jewellery, whereas I found savoury food rather boring both to make and look at, and it never, to this day, gave me a thrill.
I love nature so animals was also one of my main interests. The first animal I made was a tortoise. At the time, I watched a tutorial on how to make a cake topper out of sugar and I made it out of clay. My tortoise was rather funny looking though and mine had leaves on its head; but when I made my second and third, I started to change things in them, either in the way I made them or in the style. The more I worked with clay, the more I got used to how it worked and the different brands, finishes and consistencies. You begin to encounter problems and do research on how to solve them. I've broken and ruined so many things, either because I am quite clumsy of because I lacked experience. Knowing that polymer clay softens slightly while baking before it hardens, is not something that's written in the package and you can only know that through experience or if someone tells you.
I learned from experience.
I suppose all these things were my school and doing something every day, even if little, helped me to sculpt bigger things like I do today.
When I started back in 2011 I never imagined I would end up where I am today. I never imagined I would have made miniature food, let alone horses and elephants!
Sculpting had never even crossed my mind growing up. Never even thought of it when I saw a sculpture. I think I thought it was so hard that you had to be innately good at it. But learning to sculpt has totally changed my perception of sculptures and the work that goes into them, for example in classical sculpture.
The more I learned, the more I sculpted, the more I saw how I could express the feelings and emotions that lied in the bottom of my soul. Without almost knowing it, I started to tell either stories, even if simple like my in Witch's Severed Finger tutorial for which I also wrote the story in the video (Wicca Witch and How she lost her finger); or to filter messages about environmental issues to both channel my concern and frustration, but also to create awareness. Marius the giraffe was the first piece I sculpted that was fueled by what happened to the poor little giraffe in the Danish zoo. My polar bear on an oil barrel sculpture is another clear example.
Soon, I realized I was merging my undying love for story telling with my love for art and nature. And that's what I enjoy the most about what I do. I don't enjoy making for making, if I have nothing to say or if there's no reason behind what I made, I am the saddest person on the planet that day. And that's a day I wish to be over soon.
Sculpting for me is an extension of my passion for story telling. My pieces are wearable art, wearable stories.
The desire to be a good writer still runs in my veins. Sometimes people ask me: how did you know you wanted to be a writer? And my answer is: I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't always know I could.
I wrote every single day of my life, wherever I was and using whatever I had on me, even just in my head. I wrote so much it became second nature and the common denominator to my entire life. I simply stopped noticing it. Like blinking or taking a breath. The closest feeling I can give you as an example is when you find yourself looking for your reading glasses and suddenly notice they were on your head the whole time. Well, that's what writing was for me.
Then there's another question: How do you know you will be a published writer?
I know I will be a published writer just as much as I know when and how I will die.
But then, knowing would take the fun out of it, and the fun is all I do it for.
Now what about you, yes you reading this blog: How do you know what you want to be?
Your interests and likes are the obvious answer. But don't just sit there and tell yourself: Well, I like shopping and having my nails done.
No, that's not what I mean.
Think of the one thing that you find yourself doing daily or thinking of the moment you wake up. What engages your mind? Is there anything that makes your heart burn whenever you can't do it?
For example I knew I wanted to be a writer also because when I write, I don't feel like I should be doing something else. I don't feel like I'm wasting my time on Earth. Whereas when I'm sculpting or making miniature food or making videos, I get a sense of dread, that makes me feel like I shouldn't be doing this. Of course I enjoy sculpting, but I enjoy writing, much much more. It's something I can't help, but if it happens to you too with the things you do, it's an internal sign that your soul longs for something else.
We are beings of light and we come to Earth for a reason, no matter what that reason is, if your soul is not aligned to its path, it will be able to tell. So listen to your inner thoughts, your feelings, your intuition because this is nature's way to direct you. It might also be your angels or spirit guides giving you clues to what you should be doing to stay on your path. Your likes and/or and interests are God given hints to what you should be doing. Sometimes your talents are not what you want to be, but they might be part of it.
I speak three languages and people have forever told me I "should" be a translator, a teacher or interpreter. Well, what about what I want? And what is the reason behind their conviction of me being a translator? Because that's how I will make the most money out of the talents I have?
If you think that money and finding your path, go hand in hand, I'm afraid you are wrong.
Finding your path or mission in life doesn't mean you have the key to "financial" success. It may be, also, but it also may not be. The success should be spiritual. Some people confuse financial success with financial stability. Financial success may be financial stability, having enough to feed, educate and treat yourself and your family every now and then. I will forever remember Gandhi's words when he said that when we pray for a car for example, we should pray for a means of transport to work, not for a Porsche. If a friend gifts us with a bicycle, then that is what was intended for us and we should accept it. Be grateful for what you have.
Don't assume that finding your path means that the road clears up ahead. Finding your life purpose doesn't mean that the struggle will magically disappear and that you won't have to fight for what you want. But you know what you want, and that puts you one step closer. If you continue to work on it, day in day out, you will be many steps closer. Think of a stairway to heaven, heaven being what you desire most in this life. And every time you work on your goal, visualize yourself climbing one step up the stairway. Look down and notice the houses, the trees and cars getting smaller as the days go by.
One thing that you can stop doing right now if you haven't already, is calling your goals "dreams". The longer you keep calling them dreams, the longer they will stay such.
Don't dream about your dreams, work on them. From now on they are your goals and targets. They are your life purpose.
So what was the point of me telling you how I got into sculpting? It wasn't such a great story after all. That's the whole point.
Maybe you thought that you needed to have an innate talent to work with polymer clay (or do what you love).
Maybe you thought you needed to have a degree in Creative Arts or Graphic Design.
No, all you need is the will and discipline to learn and improve and the acceptance that you will make mistakes sometimes. No matter what you do in life, at some point, something's going to go wrong. But that's part of the learning process. The way I see it, mistakes happen at a time when they don't really "matter", they are purely preparing us for when they do, and when they do happen, we will already have acquired the knowledge to overcome them.