What I Learned about Problem Solving

20150821_084112_resizedBy profession, I am a copywriter. I help my clients communicate their messages to their audiences – online or offline.

I’ve been at this work long enough that the media formats for my words-for-hire have changed. For example, these days, instead of writing a brochure, I’m more likely to write website content. Instead of writing a letter, I’m more likely to write a blog. Instead of a TV spot, an online video script. And so forth.

Sometimes messages change formats. That’s sort of what I’ve done with my found-objects, mixed-media projects. While, by day, I primarily write messages for others, I have this other area of diversification where I can create a few messages of my own.

The Big Idea

I love my work as a copywriter, and I was wondering how to make this work stronger and better, less prone to fluctuations in workload, more consistent in its growth. I was puzzling over these issues on my morning walks, with a continuing prayer, “Help me figure out what to do.”

In the middle of these prayers – “Help me figure out what to do” – sometimes I would notice a nail or a screw along the curb, and I’d think, “I better pick that up. It could hurt someone’s tire.” So I’d pick it up, then I’d get back to, “Help me figure out what to do.”

One day someone suggested that there was a story in the discards I picked up, so I started looking for that story. In this search, I came to the idea that I could create art with these pieces. The term “mixed media” did not come to me instinctively, by the way. I don’t remember the history of my search terms (Google does, ask them). But I was many searches into my research when I realized that’s what I’m talking about: mixed media.

Once I found that term, there were many more pieces of the puzzle to unravel – size, materials, tone, process… and glue. I have learned a lot about glue.

One day, for example, I discovered I do not like the odor of Mod Podge, the craft adhesive I use in every piece. It seemed to me that an area of diversification would be quite limited if I found the smells repellent. As I was puzzling over this issue, I remembered: I have a backyard. It’s right past that backdoor. So now I take the Mod Podge out there when needed, affix and apply, and come back inside. The odor is more tolerable in the greater air exchange of the great outdoors.

One day I came to the conclusion: I do not like glue on my hands. I don’t like pulling that glue off my fingers when I’m done with my pieces. Then I remembered: when I work in the church kitchen on Wednesday evenings, I wear gloves. So I went by the U.S. Foods store on Atlanta Highway and bought a box of kitchen gloves. Now I can wear gloves while working with glue – at least until I get frustrated with trying to place a piece “just so.” Then I yank off the gloves in frustration. Even then I spend less time with glue on my hands. And the gloves are reusable. This is not about containing the spread of glue germs, after all. It’s about reducing time spent with glue on my hands.

The pieces themselves present a set of problems to be solved. They begin like so: I wonder if I can…? What if I try…? How do I…? And I work to resolve those issues. My mind stays engaged, on the search, and an engaged and searching mind is a good thing. At some point, one of those questions was, “How do I package the pieces?” So I found out about plastic bags, figured out the ties – but you know what the hardest part of this was? Punching those dang holes in those plastic bags. Tough work, but I got through it.

The Other Part of the Idea

I am a storyteller by inclination. I am creating a way that art can tell stories, and I can tell stories about art. That’s a good fit for an area of diversification. Even so, I am a copywriter by profession.

Almost all of my work as a copywriter has come from a personal connection – through either someone I know or someone who knows someone I know. Having worked in an advertising and public relations community, I do connect with people who need copywriters within my professional circles – and sometimes outside those circles.

That’s what came to me on those problem-solving morning walks. Art connects. Stories connect. Connections grow opportunity. So on each piece, I put a label on the back that says: “The Nail’s Pace Collection. Hand-Crafted, Found-Objects Art Created by Minnie Lamberth. Get the rest of the story at http://minnielamberth.com.”

Soon I noticed something different on my morning walks. Now as I was walking and praying “Help me figure out what to do,” whenever I saw a nail or screw, I would sense that God was with me and showing me another piece of the puzzle. That’s a good feeling.

walk1Now I’ve come to Series II of the Nail’s Pace Collection. I like these pieces. Hope you will too.

Find out what I’ve got available and how to order here: http://minnielamberth.com/artprojects

20150814_141936_resizedSeries I is better for small easels, given their unequal weight. With Series II, I figured out how to add a rope-type ribbon for hanging. Believe me, that took a while – increasing my knowledge of glue and eliminating my momentary curiosity about thumb tacks. Ouch. Take a look here: http://minnielamberth.com/artprojects

Until next time,

Minnie

P.S. I figured out how to ship. I’m not sure how well “A Screw Loose” will travel. But I’m pretty sure the others can make the journey. Get the details here: http://minnielamberth.com/artprojects

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