I have always loved glass art. The play of light; how it is both delicate and strong at the same time. How when you look at glass you not only see the glass itself, but also the reflection of yourself. To me, glass seems alive. It has its own story but also tells you part of your story. There is a relationship there.
A few weeks ago, I heard about a new Glass Co-op which was offering classes. Now, I have never considered myself an artist. There was a big part of me that said, “you don’t belong in a STUDIO, you aren’t good enough for that”. And, this was one of the activities that “the ex” and I had talked about doing together. But, in the spirit of doing the things I really want to do and not waiting for some mythic future, I signed up. And, showed up at the class. Two very different types of courage.
Now, three classes into the 6-week course, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that it’s been loads of fun. There are 5 people in the class, 4 guys and me. And, I can’t help but think that the guys, while all really nice, seem to fit certain stereotypes (or archetypes?). There is the experienced glass worker who normally works with soft glass (we uses boro or hard glass) so he has lots of technical questions that are way above my head. There is the “engineer/scientist” guy who works with spreadsheets all day and talks about the sciency things he wants to make. He added copper to his glass one week trying to make something, despite the fact that he didn’t know what it would do and the place isn’t properly vented to burn copper. There is the older guy, a Doctor, who has his own fancy expensive special glasses and whose work is beautiful and who makes 2 pieces in the time everyone else makes one. And, there is the teenager, who doesn’t follow instructions, preferring to try to run before he has learned how to walk. He gets lots on one-on-one time fixing pieces. Which are wonderfully creative.
And, then, there is me. So, where do I fit in this mosaic? At first, I thought I might be the “40’ish divorcee” type who is taking up hobbies with her new-found free time and finding herself. But, since I’ve never been married (or divorced), that didn’t seem to fit. And, then the other day a friend of mine asked me “Do you always take classes? You seem to be always taking some course or another”. That’s it! I am the woman who is always taking courses! In fact, right now I taking three different courses as well as teaching one!
I kind of like that. Because I do love learning things. And, I haven’t always felt like that was an okay or acceptable part of myself. When I was a kid, I was teased for being the “smart” kid in the class. And, I still hate to feel like I’m stupid. In fact, fear of appearing stupid can stop me from even trying things (put a quarter in the therapy jar for that piece of insight). I have also had people tell me, “you know, men find smart women intimidating”. Luckily, I have learned that those aren’t the men I’d need to spend time with and there are lots of men who don’t feel that way.
Now, just before I leave you with the impressions that I am some sort of mensa genius, I am not. Last year, it took me 6 months to figure out how to get a new garage door opener that worked. And I needed help to do that! What I do think is that I love learning. And, I find ideas, and discussion, and books fascinating. I love to be intellectual stimulated.
But, this new realm of working with my hands is a place of less security (remember: 6 months, one garage remote). And so I am letting go of my fears of not being good. Or good enough. I am accepting that I can feel anxious without letting it stop me from showing up. I am trying to stop comparing myself against the other people. Accept that my pieces don’t need to be “perfect”. Learn to not try to control the glass but rather let it shape and find it’s own expression.
That might be the most fun thing of all. That I can release the baggage around my love of learning. That I can feed this passion like the torch feeds oxygen into the flame and transforms rigid glass into swirls of light and beauty. May it do the same to me, so that my story reflects who I am.