Cory Cuthbertson is a self-employed crafter, selling bookshelf necklaces and tea themed handmade jewellery to fund her PhD. She is a Canadian expat living in the UK with her English husband. She has a BA in linguistics, an MSc in palaeoanthropology and palaeolithic archaeology.
Since I love both books and tea, I was immediately intrigued when I stumbled across Cory’s Facebook page. She agreed to talk a little more about her art.
Tell me more about the medium you work in and how you create your art.
I love the tactile part of working with clay. I used to work in an office, and a creative element in my life was missing. So I went and got £20 worth of polymer clay, sat down with some Youtube tutorials, and started learning how to work it.
I love miniatures — so once I learned the basics I used my skills to find my own niche. I love tea and books, and it naturally went that way! I started making bookshelf necklaces which turned out to be surprisingly popular — but not that surprising I guess, because who wouldn’t want a tiny library hanging around your neck?
At what point in your life did you start thinking of yourself as an artist?
When I was young I was always painting or sketching or molding plasticine characters, and creating was a big part of my identity. I don’t think there was a turning point because art was always there with me. If anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, my automatic response was ‘artist’, although I had no idea what that entailed.
How would you describe your spirituality?
I am an atheist, and don’t believe in a god or higher creator. I believe that when we die, that’s it. That makes me cherish life — we create our own meaning in life, and I find meaning in being happy and making others around me happy. I’m also a scientist, and working towards my PhD in archaeology. I think this reflects my personality a lot, I’m very curious and I love learning about humans as a species.
How does your spirituality find expression in your art?
While I wouldn’t describe myself as spiritual, I do appreciate the human body and mind. I understand human cognition as being extended and distributed — our mind is as much of our body as our hands are, or our paintbrush is, and the things we work with and communicate with, such as art, are expressions of our cognition. That makes art very personal. It also means my creations have a little bit of me in it, and they are bought by other people and it becomes a part of them — I really enjoy that connection.
How do you connect with divine flow when you are creating? Is it an intentional process that you can duplicate?
There is nothing supernatural going on that I am aware of when I am working, but I find I become very at peace when I am focusing all of my concentration on my tiny pieces, and relaxing or turning off other parts of my brain. Art is very meditative for me, and I perceive time passing differently when I am in ‘the zone’. I really enjoy this feeling it gives me, and I think it allows me to center myself and work through any anxiety or pressures of life.
How do you decide which ideas to pursue?
The art I create is always joyful. I try to illicit happiness in the things I make. One way I do this is by making things small and delicate — that makes people smile, because they are cute and look complicated to make. I also create things that give me happiness in life. I mentioned tea and books — I love these things but they are also things that others love too, and that motivates me to use these themes. I also love archaeology, but that’s a bit more niche, so I don’t make as many archaeological themed objects.
If you were going to teach your creative process to someone else, what would be one or two of the key things you would share?
Be unique as a celebration of yourself. Find your uniqueness by experimenting, and experiment by creating things that make you happy. And don’t be frustrated. People are way too hard on themselves and their creations, but they should be proud of anything they made because it comes from themselves, and that in itself is unique. You get better over time, and if you enjoy it, keep it up! If you don’t, do something else that makes you happy.
How can our readers find our more about you and your work?
I have an Etsy shop where I sell my bookshelf necklaces and book and tea themed jewellery: www.coryographies.etsy.com. I also keep a blog where I talk about my jewellery, but also about being self-employed and other thoughts and musings: www.coryographies.blogspot.com. I have a Facebook page: www.facebook.com/coryographies and Twitter: @Coryographies as well!