The Muses

In classical times there were the 9 goddesses that inspired creative works.  Unfortunately the 9 goddesses don’t seem to be around any more.

However, there are many modern day muses; there are friends that inspire us, there are artistic designs every where we look. There are customers that like our work but want something just a little different which causes us to reach within ourselves for creative ideas. There are tools that enable us to expand out skill levels.

Walk down a city street and take in the architectural wonders. Look in shop windows and see all the products that have been created. Study the display windows and appreciate the creativeness that went into promoting products to there best advantage.

Everything we see is the result of someone taking that first step with the determination to suceed!

When I look at a tool catalog I may see a tool that causes me say to myself, “if I had that tool I could form copper this way”.

The same could be said for the writer and graphic artist related to the computer. If I had that software I could …………….

Someone gave me a bubble wand as a birthday gift. I appreciated the gift and the thought that went with it. A few days of looking at the bubble wand I decided that I could do something similar. This began a whole new line of designs for Magic Wands.

The Gift

One of my designs

One is not better than the other; they are just different.

This was one of the most profitable lines of metal work I have ever produced. In this case the Muse was the friend who gave me the bubble wand and the bubble wand itself.

Today we have the internet which greatly broadens our world. We can discuss our work with other artists. We can learn new techniques on YouTube and elsewhere which enable us to move our work forward.

It then becomes choosing from the many ideas that cross our mind to settling down to the ideas we want to explore.

The incentive for money has often been my Muse. Making my full time income has led me in many directions I otherwise would not have gone.

Needing the money I have accepted special orders for pieces I had no experience in making.

These orders stretched me within my craft. Adding new techniques that have been useful in other projects. Also the creative aspect of coming up with tools, jigs and fixtures to complete a special project.

If I hadn’t needed the money these are skills and jig and fixtures I would never have discovered.

If it hadn’t been for the business aspect there is no doubt my creativity would have been far less than it has been.

These Muses will often give us ideas that aren’t related to what we are working on.

Just guessing here, but maybe some part of our mind can see that we will need these ideas sometime in the future.

Maybe we will put an idea to work or maybe we won’t.

And speaking of that, keep a note pad handy and record ideas.

I’ll often have an idea while driving and then later I can’t recall it.  Although, when reading back over notes, they don’t have the aliveness or freshness as the new thought that just pops into your head.

In the chapter “Working Within Parameters” I talk about the scrap shapes I used when I first began. These shapes were my Muse. The shape itself gave me an idea of what I could do with that piece of copper. As I brazed and welded these shapes together, new ideas emerged as to what I could do next.

Looking at this scrap piece of copper gave me the idea for the sailboat earrings.

Muses are everywhere, we just have to be open to them.

More examples:

To make these dogwood blossoms, I was brazing a tiny piece of domed copper to a 1/16” steel rod.  

The small domed piece of copper was so thin that I burnt up about 2 out of every 5.  However, I kept doing it that way because it was the  best that I had come up with to that point.

It was so much trouble and an absolute time waster that I consider not doing any more dogwood. One day a man came into my shop and watched what I was doing, and said, “what are you making, upholstery tacks”?

I felt really stupid, “why hadn’t thought of that before”?  Went to the hardware store got a couple of pads of tacks.  Really much more lifelike than what I was doing.  


I was making these small bicycles and sales were great.  A couple in my shop came in my shop and asked why I didn’t have a tandem in the same proportion as the small bicycle. I said, “I’d never thought of it”.  “If you make one we’ll take it”.  “We’ll stop back later”.  I made the tandem, but they didn’t return.   I would like to thank them because they opened up a whole new area of cycling.

I began showing my bicycle sculptures at Tandem Rallies in the midwest, the East Coast and SouthEast.  I could go on and on about tandems but we have other ground to cover.

I had been doing this piece, Ride in the Park for several years.  A man came in and said, I would like a piece half that big with one bike, a bench, one bike, a drinking fountain and a newspaper.  In spring, summer, and early autumn  I ride my bike, pick up a cup of coffee and a newspaper.  Ride to the park, drink my coffee and read the paper.  

At that point in time, I had the shop really stocked with metal sculpture.  I remember thinking to myself, with all the pieces I have in here, “why can’t you pick out something that I already have”?

I also remember looking at the piece when it was finished an and thinking, “that’s good”!

I later did variations as a tennis piece and a golf piece.

People drop into our lives to give us guidance on all matters of life, not just creative ideas.

For me, the important element is to be open to new ways of thinking.


Next >  Learning the Craft