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I sometimes wonder why I'm doing this


I very often wonder the same thing. As you can probably tell by all
the replies, this is something we’ve all experienced. I graduated
from Michigan with a fine art degree. All my time was spent in the
sculpture studio. I really thought that was what I wanted to do for
the rest of my life and while I was sculpting I thoroughly enjoyed
it, but something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it until
I read your post and the wonderful replies of encouragement. The
whole time I was sculpting I never threw anything, never cursed my
work or ideas, never once asked myself “why am I doing this?”. It
was comfortable and unchallenging. I made some beautiful pieces but
I never really felt I was pushing my craft forward. I decided four
months ago to chuck all that and start making jewelry. At the time I
didn’t know way and I tried not to analyze or agonize over it for
too long. I just know that I’ve never been happier. I’ve thrown many
things against the wall and said the unforgivable…you idiot, what
were you thinking, you can’t do this, etc. but I’ve never, never
felt more alive or more determined to succeed and excel in anything.
I think we desperately need failure to appreciate the truly
wonderful things we do accomplish. How can we appreciate the sun
without the darkness. I hope you’re not down for long and please let
us all know how you’ve managed to rise above your temporary slump,
and we all know it’s temporary. I’d hate to think of all that talent
going to waste. I personally want to thank you for your post. It has
restored my spirit and reminded me why I came to this craft.

Sue in Ohio

We have a local cultural lecture series here in Rochester, New York
that is in the studios of Steve Carpenter, a painter. On the first
Monday of the month we get to listen to the perspectives of many
creative souls. The one that sticks in my mind was with storyteller
Rafe Martin. He said that everyone tries to reach their goals as one
trying to climb a mountain. But artists are a unique breed, we start
at the bottom of the mountain each day. (Actually I think this
applies to scientists too.) Every day our new won knowledge, and new
desires, make us question anew what our final goal is. Since we
always want to top our best game, we are never done. We NEVER get to
the top of that mountain. It felt enormously liberating to realize I
wasn’t alone with this struggle. And that his analogy was apt. For
as long as I live I will never get to a place where I can
satisfyingly wipe my hands and say there, I have done it, I am

When I get discouraged, I simply walk. No walkman, no cell phone. I
just walk. And I do not know how many times the answer has presented
itself to me, like some kind of vision. The other thing I do, since
I know the value of just staying in the game, is that I will put
down the impossible project, and just tell myself, make yourself a
new pair of earrings. No stress, just play, just keep your hands

The most important part for me is making my work as rewarding as
possible. Rewarding, in the sense that I wake up loving what I do.
Because if I hate what I do, or feel tortured, I could do that for a
lot more money someplace else. I have the freedom to invent the
game. And I try not to forget that.

As Robert Dancik says “play well”. It’s a simple but powerful
message, because it assumes responsibility. Play, but do it with
purpose. Have fun, but be constructive.

Yours Truly,
Elizabeth R. Agte
Jewelry Artist

Sometimes I wonder-womyn!

I love all the different stories artists have with their own process
and path. That is the wonder of creating, finding our own self, and
letting our beauty shine through our art. Sometimes polarity strikes
and we end up with this dark piece of ourselves, did we go deep into
our unconscious, which manifested into a piece of scrap? How exciting
to fail, learn, or expand our selves to new heights! Seeing is the
key to art for me. The universe is telling us something in everything
we do, the mystery is finding out what that means to you, and knowing
your own truths…

I have found renewing my energy at Revere Symposiums, Wildacres,
SNAG, CLASP and other venues can give me the strength to see we are
all in this together. Choice is a gift because we all need different
tools or energy in our development as an artist. The Beauty of
humanness is we all are wonderful, unique and complex. Know who you
are and make your own choices. Our answers are within, if you look!
;o) Have fun discovering and being connected to this energetic
community, Its all good!

Amy Burkholder

This is a reply (sort of) to an earlier thread, wondering why they
are doing what they are doing. I’m wondering after this last weekend
why I didn’t do this earlier. My daughter’s birthday is later this
week, and she sometimes works as a salad chef. Has since high school.
So I bought her a knife. Big Deal, right? I know that she is
particular about the knives she uses, (I’m sure it’s a family trait,
I got it from my mother) and decided to make a scabbard. I got the
leather, nice and thick, and wet it and scraped it and shaped it into
a scabbard. My parents used to do leather work when I was young, so
at the time I was just doing what needed to be done. I wanted to
rivet the sides of the scabbard with copper rivets, so I called up
the hardware store and initially I was told by a teenager “We don’t
got those.” So I called the other store, it was on a Sunday, after
all and people my age usually don’t work unless they have to. I
received the same reply to begin with, and then was transferred to an
older gentleman, he said, “Sure we have them, what size did you need,
6 or 8, 1/4 to 1 inch long.” I told him i would decide when I came in
and looked at them in person. I knew that the other store had them,
but didn’t want to go and look all over for them. I finally got the
rivets, punched holes in the leather, checked the rivets for size,
and they were too long. I cut them down and made sure the burs were
set to go and riveted away. Polished the rivets and totally finished
it up in a couple of hours. Including time at the hardware store.
This was a great project, I made something that used some of my
jewelry skills, some of my life skills, some of my past and created
an artistic, functional present for my little girl. Well, she is
turning 24, but I’ll leave that aside. Without Orchid, I probably
wouldn’t have read The Complete Metalsmith, or figured out cold
connections, never thought to cut the rivets and make them work, or
really cared about the end of the rivet.

I’m pretty happy that I can use what I know to some good end.

It’s sort of like Spiderman, With great power comes great
responsibility, but more like “With great talents and friends, you
can make the best of any situation. If you make a mistake now and
again, throw it in the bin and start over.”

Every time you start, you risk failure, but if you don’t start, the
endless possibilities die in the womb. I make plenty of mistakes,
always have. Even admit to most of them. Like my Dad says, “Go on
make mistakes. You can’t make all of them. There is no way for even
you to do that.”

Hope this means something to someone, and that it helps.

Frank A. Finley
Salish Silver
Handmade Indian Jewelry

Hello Frank,

Hope this means something to someone, and that it helps. 

Yes, it does. You’ve made some canny observations about life in
general and creating beautiful things in specific. The bottom line:
it’s a joy to apply your skills to raw materials and produce
something uniquely “yours!”

Judy in Kansas, where the prediction is for frost to night - better
cover and shelter!

I am late in reading this thread, it is hitting me at a time when I
am emotionally low. It does not need to be a jewelry related
incident that brings one face to face with reality and depression.

Many suggestions ran the gamut from Edison to Religion, they are
very real to the writer, and may hopefully lead to resolution for the
original poster.

Any failure can lead to a need for a glass, or bottle of the red,
and then what?



After some thought I realised that my last post wasn’t true. I don’t
design jewellery because I like people to wear it - that is the icing
on the cake. I would/will make stuff whether it sold or not - I just
have to.


I need to note that depression and I are old friends. Well just
aquaintances, really. I was in and out therapy for many years
surrering from bouts of severe depression coupled with crippling
anxiety. I did only enough to survive and keep my children with a
roof and food. Not a pretty time in my life, and I visited with the
bottle of red, red wine, tequila, and a couple of other things, but
it never seemed to help. It was a crutch I was using to limp along.
Towards the end of my last treatment phase, I was at the therapist’s
office, and he looked at me sidways, and prescription pad in hand
said to me, “Wow, you really have had a hard time. How much of this
do you want?” After I thought about it, I quit taking medication and
looked at what I had. Well, that almost sent me right back to the
therapist. I really had very little, a shell of a life. So I started
doing things. I made some more of the aforementioned mistakes. and a
few more. But I had deep down decided to change what was going on
around me, with me and to me. I started standing up for myself,
looking for opportunities, and made some catastrophic changes in my
life. Things are better now, I can go to the bars and have a few
drinks with a friend or two and leave on my own two feet. I can also
be sure that my friends will support me in what I’m doing, because
everyone believes I can do it. If I make a mistake with work or
jewelry, they say well, sometimes tha’s the way it goes. I am on a
soapbox at the moment, and if I fell off tomorrow, the day after
would be another new day, ready for a new set of mistakes or

Frank A. Finley
Salish Silver
Handmade Indian Jewelry


I am late in reading this thread, it is hitting me at a time when
I am emotionally low. It does not need to be a jewelry related
incident that brings one face to face with reality and depression. 

This is so true. I’m sorry you are feeling so low right now. Perhaps
it is only a temporary case of “the blues” which everyone gets now
and then? Or maybe you really do have a case of depression. I am
well acquainted with depression and know how bad it can feel.

Any failure can lead to a need for a glass, or bottle of the red,
and then what? 

I’m not totally sure what you are asking here but I feel pulled to
respond - - Being one who has used the glass of… whatever… at
times, I can say it is just a temporary means of dulling the pain
you are feeling at the time. (some call this “self-medication.”) It
doesn’t really help you solve anything, it just gives you some
momentary relief. So, you have your wine or whatever and go to bed
and lick your wounds. In the next day or two, hopefully, you feel
better and you go on and do what you need to do and things get
better. But if you have too many days like this and you don’t feel
any better the next day and you can’t do what you need to do, then
it is time to get some help. There are many forms of therapy, with
or without medication, that can help. You just need to make the
effort to find someone and start talking with them.

“Talking” on this forum can be a big help. Talking with friends or
family can help. But, if you are seriously depressed, get some
professional help. I’ve been there, done that, and it works.
Admittedly, it can be a slow process - - but it is way better than
the alternative of struggling and suffering alone for who knows how

Please feel free to write me off-line.
Wishing you the best - - Nan
Nan Lewis Jewelry


Really exposing myself here, but what the heck, my affliction is no
crime. I’ve suffered very much through the same sorts of things you
have, mostly severe depression. It’s like diabetes, you just have to
deal with it for most of the rest of your life, because there is no
cure (forget what the TV commercials say about anti-depressants,
they lie). So I’ve learned many coping strategies. I was trained to
be a painter, so I consider my jewelry work to be an art form, not
the product of a trade. Depression, as everyone knows, has been
rampant among the artsy-fartsy crowd. Why, even Picasso once stopped
painting for two years because of depression. But art, whether it’s
jewelry-making, painting, sculpture or what have you, is integral at
keeping the depression wolves at bay. There’s nothing better than
seeing the fruits of your creative labors to make yourself feel
better and build your self-esteem. The best anti-depressant is work
and its byproducts. Skip the pills - the only people who benefit
from them are the people who get rich making them and foisting them
on the rest of us. The pills don’t work anyway.

Way off topic here, but I bet there’s more than a handful of
Orchidians who have similar stories to tell.

Brian Corll

Hey Frank,

Your honest appraisal of your life experience is both inspiring and
full of wisdom. The key to your approach seems to be: “But I had
deep down decided to change what was going on around me, with me and
to me. I started standing up for myself, looking for opportunities,
and made some catastrophic changes in my life. Things are better

May you continue to enjoy the benefits of life and doing things.

Judy in Kansas

The best anti-depressant is work and its byproducts. Skip the pills
- the only people who benefit from them are the people who get rich
making them and foisting them on the rest of us. The pills don't
work anyway. 

I feel compelled to respond to this…

The pills can work, though I council caution about them just the
same. I took them for years, and they enabled me to feel better and
to function at a very difficult time in my life. But you cannot just
take them forever. It is necessary to be in therapy, get a lot of
exercise (the closest thing there is to a panacea), and have a plan
as to how long is safe to continue on meds. My doctors failed me in
the last part, and I eventually began having horrendous side
effects, including a major tremor (some may remember my posting
questions about tremor a couple of years ago). Doctors still didn’t
connect that to the meds-- they wanted to medicate that as well.

It was damned difficult to get off the meds was taking. Fortunately,
I found a psycho-pharmacologist (benefit of living in a world-class
city) who figured out how to help me do it, and I succeeded. No more
tremor or other side-effects, managable levels of depression and
anxiety (exercise!)-- though my liver is still suffering.

So bottom line-- I believe meds can rescue you, give you time to get
things under control, get other mechanisms in place to support you
in their stead, but they are not safe to rely on long term. They’re
a little like one of those wierd little spare tires cars come with
now. They may get you out of a bad situation, but you can’t just
forget about them. This is NOT a medical opinion, only my own
anecdotal experience. YMMV :>)


Way off topic here, but I bet there's more than a handful of
Orchidians who have similar stories to tell. 

I bet that too. There have been a lot of people writing about
confusion, frustration, depression over the last few weeks (myself
included). It’s not really surprising, given the time of year. Most
of us are gearing up right now to go “on display” for the holidays. I
have my very first show coming up. I’m as nervous as I can be. In a
weird way, it’s helping me though, this show. It’s forcing me to
focus on 2, 3, even 5 things at one time. Like a lot of people on the
list, I’m a perfectionist. (During the birth of my second son, I made
no noise…I swear, if you want to verify, I’ll give you the number
of my obstetrician, I thought yelling would be kind of improper).
Sometimes, as I mentioned in another post, I can get so lost in doing
"1 thing" perfectly, that I forget everything else…having fun,
doing chores, even eating. My thing to add would be to try to figure
out something that you can do a little bit of to regain your sense of
power. I feel nervous these days because I feel inexperienced (I am),
but everybody is inexperienced at some point. This leads me to feel
"weak" or “small” or “not in control”. For me, jogging or running
gives me a sense of accomplishment and strength that I can draw on in
situations where I am feeling powerless or inexperienced.

I get down sometimes. I have to reverse engineer it and go back and
figure what triggered the feelings. I can, of course, only speak for
myself. I could never tell another person what to do to make
themselves feel better.It takes a lot of time and sometimes (like
with me) it takes time talking to a professional. I spent 10 months
with a trauma counselor last year. i can honestly say, I have never
felt so strong as I do now. There are a lot of bumps in the road, but
now I can see beyond the bumps.

I wish everyone the best. try to take the advice that has been given
to me so many times. Enjoy your capabilities and revel in your
strength. It’s not everyone who is powerful enough to allow
themselves to work diligently in a field they enjoy and don’t be
afraid to let others know what your needs are and what bothers you.


ps My next big hurdle is telling the mother-in-law that, no, we’re
not having Thanksgiving at my place this year. Sorry, but snippy
comments about how fortunate I am to be able to relax all day at home
and take naps whenever I want when she has to slave away in the real
world aren’t my idea of fun. That woman can eat my shorts. There, I
said it.

Everyone needs different tools to get through rough times. Sometimes
Med’s can help ground you till you get centered but I have also seen
people numb themselves to long, but that is their personal
journey.Some people who hit bottom can end up being the most
enlightened because it is a natural wake up call to be yourself, and
I believe we all have our own answers within. I have managed to not
need drugs so far in my life but can see how it has helped others,
no judgment there. I do want to share what helps me during triggered
events. I found that eating more raw food in my diet has helped my
energy levels rise, yoga strengthens my body and puts more oxygen in
my body, and meditation helps me figure out my purpose which is key.
I also agree that moving energy out through exercise or being in
nature helps calm me down. It is impossible to go through life not
being effected by the world events around us, we all are connected,
and that is why artist sometimes make the same designs at times. We
have a gift to create the dark and the light inside of us but it is
all good. Some books I would recommend are the Power of Now by
Eckhart Tolle for learning about your triggers, True Balance by
Sonia Choquette for learning balance in your life, and any of Katie
Byron’s for defending against those mother in law types. hahaha! I
love sharing on this board, belonging to a community is a big sign
that a person does not want to be sucked into the depression