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While playing with glitter on my wet kitchen countertop, I made a mess.

Or, that’s what I’ve been conditioned to call this sort of spontaneous dash of microscopic red spots sprinkled on spotless surface.

My immediate reaction was to reach for a wet towel to wipe up the supposed mess. But I stopped, and I wondered, who defined this word–mess? I guess I learned this growing up in a spic and span home.

I left it for a while. And it bothered me. The red blur kept grabbing at my eyeballs. Red light! Stop! Wipe me up!

I was torn between my domestic impulse to clean and the wild acceptance of my creative intuition. If materials can be used in whatever way that artist wants, how could this splotch be wielded?

This pondering led to a whole experiment with messes of glitter, water and tissue. I became enthralled with the way a drop of water dispersed a clump of glitter into a tiny explosion on the flat surface. A quick jet of water pushed a pile of glitter down, down, down the sink’s lining, letting the glitter pave its own fairy-size river. All lovely and vivid, ripe and peculiar, stimulus for wondering.

Perhaps I can retrain my brain to reconsider the potential of messes. I’m thinking of the hair in my drain, the juice from slicing strawberries, the granola bar crumbs, the sweat marks on my t-shirts, the wrinkles in my sheets.

Which makes me think of patterns, determinism, chance and spontaneity in general.

Oh glitter, you will always be more than a crafting supply.