How to Juggle Multiple Projects Without Going Crazy

Whew!  It has been an exciting beginning of the semester!  My box is still in the process of being finished and already I’m moving on to the next project.  And in just a couple weeks I’ll be starting project three!  It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm and energy necessary for such a fast paced workload so I try to remind myself of a few things:

1.  Stay excited

Seriously, I think this one is the most important.  Without the excitement and wonder it is almost impossible for me to stay focused.  And, for me, nothing creates more excitement than overcoming challenges.  Luckily there was no shortage of challenge in my first project.  With all the technical aspects of a hidden hinge, mitering corners for a hexagon and riveting a lid of fifteen layers then shaping them so it can still open I had enough challenge to hold my interest the whole time!  (And to collapse in sleep as soon as the hard stuff was done!)

There isn’t much more satisfying than seeing an idea go from a paper model

Paper model of honey bee box
Paper model of honey bee box

to a lasting metal object.

In progress honey bee box closed
In progress honey bee box closed

And I don’t think I can express how excited I was when it was all soldered together and I opened it for the first time.  (Or the second.  Or third.  Or honestly, the next ten plus times I opened it.  Part of this is because I have an explainable obsession with small boxes.  But part of it is because I made it!  And it worked!)

In progress honey bee box open
In progress honey bee box open

But excitement alone isn’t always enough.  I also need to

2. Diversify

Alright, this one might be my own personal preference and not for everyone.  But if I’m working on multiple projects they cannot be the same.  Usually, this means a sculpture, a jewelry object for class and a jewelry object for school and a story (and maybe throw in a poem or a drawing or a comic or photography) or some combination thereof.  If everything I’m working on looks the same or deals with the same concepts and materials, I get bored.  Which, by definition, takes away my excitement.  In the case of my current jewelry and metals class, it means my second project isn’t so heavy in technical fabrication and includes embroidery.  Plus, the theme is a bit more lighthearted than the relation of honey bees to the environment.

Project two is a brooch – or, if I get really industrious (and possibly learn to make more time in a day) – a set of brooches dealing with a very thrilling short hike that turned into a ten hour escapade with my friends in Tar Hollow.  Tar Hollow is a fantastic park in the Hocking Hills area that I highly recommend for it’s beautiful scenery and relative seclusion as long as you find the visitor’s center first and pick up a map.  It was one of those trips that was more epic and enjoyable looking back than it might have been at the time.

Tar Hollow brooch embroidery and felt
Tar Hollow brooch embroidery and felt

I’m glad I chose to do the embroidery because it gave a relaxing break and allowed me to try something different for a little while without losing any steam to continue creating.

But never forget

3.  Stop! Get Outside, See People, and Look for New Ideas

It’s easy to get wrapped up in projects and shut out the rest of the world.  I’ve done it.  I’ve stressed and locked myself away to finish projects.  Some of this is good.  Sometimes a little bit of isolation in the studio is the best choice.

But then I need to get out.  Completely out as in outside in fresh air, preferably on a bicycle.  And I need to be around people, specifically friends and family.  The way I see it, there’s no reason to feel guilty for spending time having fun.  Living life is when some of the best ideas find me.  Even if I’m not getting direct ideas from every non-art thing I do, it informs everything I make.  From life comes art.  All our passions inspire and build up all our other passions.

So when juggling projects like honey bee boxes, embroidered badges, jewelry to sell at the gallery (all my layered pieces sold so it is past time to make more!), jewelry for Christmas, a doodle a day challenge (which is still amazing!), and you know, the usual aspects of life, I try to remember how exciting it is to simply make my ideas into something tangible that I can hold and share.  Then it’s easy to keep up the enthusiasm and keep making!

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