I considered a number of (cheesy) titles for this blog posts: When Bad Beading Happens to Good Beaders, Beads Gone Bad, etc., etc. Really, though, what I want to talk about is what happens, and what to do, if/when your Muse leaves you. (And yet the cheesiness persists - for some weird reason, this statement conjures up images of Olivia Newton-John in "Xanadu", but maybe that's just me. I can only hope. If you are too young to know about what the heck I am talking, don't tell me - I don't want to know.)
This past Monday, I woke up and had a genuine urge to make beads, design jewelry and even write about the whole process. I really hate to admit it, but I haven't had this urge for a long time. I don't know if it's been evident to you, but it's been wildly evident to me that I've been in a slump. A big one. A long one. A big crater of creativity, so to speak. I didn't want to admit it to anyone, because, frankly, I was embarrassed. How could I admit that I was having trouble coming up with original designs? How could I possibly inform you that I felt bizarre ones like the above were perfectly wearable? (Can you believe I actually submitted this photo to a magazine? What was I thinking? My abject apologies to Joan Miller, the artist of the perfectly beautiful ceramic bead at the center of this fiasco. Joan - I've ripped apart this piece, and I'm already working on a new one that will hopefully be much worthier of your bead.)
However, the more I pondered the problem, the more I became convinced that this must happen to everyone at some time or another, right? Right? (Again, if you don't understand what I'm saying, I don't want to know.) So, I thought it would be interesting to open this up for discussion (if anyone would care to discuss it with me). When you hit a slump, when you're sitting around worrying about the economy, when your morale is low, what do you do (apart from feel frustrated)? Here are a few things that I tried, that have been helpful:
1. Get more sleep. I tend to burn the candle at both ends. During the day, I wear my Mommy hat and spend my time discussing urgent issues with the Short One such as whether chocolate ice cream is on the menu, where groceries comes from, when Santa Claus is likely to visit again and whether Donald Duck will be wearing a red tie today. At night, the hat goes in the closet and I don my cape and mask (uh, in the privacy of my own home) and turn into Bead Lady. Sometimes Bead Lady refuses to leave until the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, the SO often gets up shortly after the wee hours of the morning. Thus, I have pretty much been sleep deprived since the stork brought the SO to our doorstep, and it shows. Lately, members of my family have been eyeing me with the nervousness afforded to a ticking bomb. After some grumbling (I don't like admitting that I'm wrong), and as BL wasn't producing much anyway, I started going to bed shortly after the SO. It's amazing what getting reasonable amounts of sleep has done for my perspective on life.
2. Put aside work that simply isn't coming together for you, but, no matter what, keep working. In retrospect, I feel that 98% of the stuff I produced over the past couple months hasn't been very good, and I have a lot of false starts that are still lying around, waiting to be saved or ripped apart. However, I kept slogging away, and I still have that 2% to show for it, work that I actually like in spite of everything. That 2% has kept me sane and interested in continuing with this whole beady experience.
3. When you take a break, do something completely unrelated, like going to see a movie, reading a book, visiting a museum. Much of my inspiration comes from reading. I have a background in English Renaissance literature, but I haven't formally studied in the field since the early 90's. I find that going back to my favorite works by Donne, Shakespeare, Spenser, Jonson, etc., etc. relaxes me and reminds me why I loved the field. It also, despite myself, gets the beady portion of my brain percolating with new ideas. When you come right down to it, though, almost any interesting experience is fodder for design, as far as I'm concerned.
4. Participate in a design challenge. I don't know about you, but sometimes, it's a lack of focus that's the problem for me. Participating in a challenge can help, by providing the starting point, in the form of a theme, for inspiration to strike. In fact, I started seriously designing beads and jewerly initially by participating in the monthly challenges held by Art Bead Scene. Most of the first designs I had published were all works I created through the lens of an Art Bead Scene challenge. I'm probably too late for this month, but one of the big items on my to-do list right now is to participate more regularly in the ABS, and other, challenges.
I've had a solid, creative week this week, and I'm quite hopeful that I'm emerging from the other end of my slump. However, I'm still interested in knowing what you do when you hit a block. If you feel like sharing, please leave a comment below.
I am an intellectual property lawyer by training and have a background in English Renaissance literature. I love science fiction. I primarily watch Sesame Street these days and find myself humming "Pop Goes the Weasel" at odd moments (guess why). I can happily eat ice cream in the middle of winter when the wind chill is 20 below 0. I have been making beads and designing jewelry since 2007.
2010 - Winner, First Place, British Bead Awards, Other Finished Bead Jewellery 2010 - Winner, Second Place, British Bead Awards, Metal Clay Jewellery 2010 - Winner, Second Place, Bead Dreams, Metal Clay
2010 - Grand Prize, Gold Medal Winner, Fire Mountain Gems and Beads, Metal Clay, Metal Beads, Wirework and Chain Jewelry-Making Contest
2010 - Finalist, Bead Star, Stones, Plastics and Designs with Heart Categories
2009 - Winner, First Place, British Bead Awards, Metal Clay
2009 - Winner, Second Place, British Bead Awards, Beyond Glass, Handmade Beads and Components
2009 - Winner, Second Place, Bead Arts Awards, Necklace
2009 - Finalist, Bead Dreams, Metal Clay
2008 - Finalist Fire Mountain Gems and Beads Beading Contest, Metal Clay
2008 - Finalist, Bead Star, Pearls
A word about copyright
As indicated in the copyright notice, the contents of this blog are copyright by me. To the extent that instructions to make jewelry, beads, knit items or other instructions are included in this blog, they are free for you to use to make the projects for personal use. They should not be used for commercial purposes, ie, to make items for resale.