Mistakes, Soul Statements, and the Wisdom of Calvin and Hobbes

2011 is mere hours away in the Midwest and it’s time for many to reflect on the year past, take from it the best we can, and apply that knowledge to the highest and best New Year possible. How did 2010 pan out for you? Were mistakes made? How have those been dealt with? Are they to be forgotten, or learned from? An embarrassment – or a journey towards an ideal? Or perhaps you are a fortunate soul who thinks and plans clearly and doesn’t allow mistakes to occur? If you’re the latter, I want to meet you. Um, no, I don’t…
What follows is a simple story, with quotes from smart people to make it seem important.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
— Albert Einstein

In my full-time practice of creating beauty, I often make mistakes. Incorrect engineering, melted components, successful joins soldered beautifully backwards. It’s part of my life as a metalsmith. Sometimes these are correctable. Other times, they are additions to the scrap bin. On occasion, certain remnants stay with me on the bench, providing companionship as the perfect piece they were supposed to become a part of is completed.

I may not be smart enough to do everything, but I am dumb enough to try anything.
— Geoff Johns

During that time, we have conversations. We wonder if something else is in store. While the metalsmith in me ponders the piece in progress before me, my heart sneaks glances at the castoff keeping me company. I cannot bear to get rid of these bits of memory. They seem to want a life of their own. Not merely as a melted spherical decoration on a ring or a pendant, but as the centerpiece of something truly special, something so lovely that no one would be able to guess at their past. This is what drives me to give them voice and value in this throw-away world.

Even a soul submerged in sleep is hard at work and helps make something of the world.
(translated by Brooks Haxton)
— Heraclitus

In my art, there is no big political statement, religious iconography, or scream for sexual equality. Just the respectful use of the materials at hand to create an idea of beauty, its meaning left up to the viewer.  Statements simply made from the soul, crafted to last a lifetime.

Handmade Sterling "Confetti" Pin with Goldstone
Handmade Sterling “Confetti” Pin with Goldstone, private collection

That is why I decided to begin naming these special works Soul Statements.  There have been previous Soul Statements. But the significance of prior works has been left a mystery to their owners. Who knows – maybe you own one!
There is no way to predict how many pieces will be created within this line of work, no way to know how many will be available at any given time. The only thing that can be promised is an offering of beauty direct from the deepest part of me – a Soul Statement. The meaning is left up to you.
I leave you with a favorite Calvin and Hobbes cartoon quote, along with a sincere wish for a New Year complete with happiness, health and an abundance of love.

Look! A trickle of water running through some dirt! I’d say our afternoon just got booked solid!
— Bill Watterson

Calvin and Hobbes in Mud Puddle, by Bill Watterson
Calvin and Hobbes in Mud Puddle, by Bill Watterson

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