Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I Haven't Posted Recently, or Now is the Winter of Our Discontent

Creativity is a harsh mistress, at times. Sometimes it all flows smoothly, sometimes work is barely finished before a new idea springs forth. Indeed, often there is a jostling lineup of new "ooooh, I could do this with that" in my head and ideas fall by the wayside as they're superseded by more better bigger WOW stuff pushing up inside.

Then, there are fallow periods. Periods when not only do I not have ideas, I don't particularly fret about not having them. I used to worry about these times, thinking I'd lost my creative impulse, and that I'd never have another good idea again, but I've learned that I need a resting phase every once in awhile. Then when the urges get working, I'm more energized than if I'd tried to force something to come.

But I've rarely experienced what I'm going through now. A long stretch of really really BAD ideas. They all seem great when I start, of course. "Hey, that's neat, let's do that!" Then, either after a few stitches, or more regrettably, a good way toward a finished piece, I realize it's all gone pear-shaped. (A lovely Britishism, isn't it?)

And then I realize that not only does this thing not look good, it's not ever going to look good, no matter what I do to it. The latest lipstick-on-a-pig effort was some barrel-shaped hematite beads I tried to kumihimo, thinking "what if I used larger beads than normal", interspersed with some leopard jasper rounds in a spiral pattern. I mean, it seemed like a good idea at the time. But what I ended up with is a huge grey-black lump of magnetized hematite, the general shape and size of a year-old boa constrictor, only not so attractive.

It seems like everything I start lately goes this way. I've only finished one item, a fast and easy bracelet I've listed on Etsy, but as of now, it only has two views. Two! Sigh.  And I don't even like that one so much.

I had another project underway, a very long lariat with mixed green beads intended as the base for a wonderful tagua nut iguana bead I bought several years ago. Oddly, that one has evolved away from what I originally thought I might do, to the point where I don't even think the main focal will be used on it!  Usually when I work, I go with serendipitous urges to add or modify as I work, but lately all these urges seem to go astray and make things much worse instead of better.

And so everything seems to go these days. Bad ideas mutate into even worse ones. Good ideas stagnate or mutate out of recognition. I'll work through this, I know I will. I just hope it's soon. I'm getting tired of my choices being bad ones.

I am turning out a decent ornament cover for a gift, But even that took three failed tries to get it moderately right.  Maybe it's just winter, for such values of winter as we have here in Southern California.  I need some inspiration. Maybe a picture of a sea slug will cheer us all.


  1. Sometimes it helps to utilize a different creative outlet for awhile. Like me me, it's setting down the beadwork and picking up a paint brush, or writing a poem or short story. Give one area of your creative brain a rest while exercising the other...

  2. I was reading a story yesterday about how the Smithsonian has pulled out some old recordings - I mean really REALLY old from the 1880's - and how we only just now have the ability to play them back without destroying them. To the inventors of this various media these were failurs that they only placed with the Smithsonian to protect possible copyrights. But these "failures" are what brought us iPods. I mean, wow.

    So let your failures and your bad ideas come and be sure to document them, cause lord only knows where they will lead.

  3. I feel your pain. I would save any of the pieces of incomplete inspiration in hopes that some day the dark recesses of your brain will provide that little bit of something it is hiding from you right now.

    The great thing about beading is other than string or wire, our mistakes can easily be recycled unlike sewing and other crafts where things are cut to use them.

    I would take a few days off. Go do something frivolous and just for yourself. I don't know what it is but I often get inspired by trips to my local one dollar type stores. The jewelry is usually total junk but there's something about aimlessly wandering through the rows and looking for something I don't need but strikes my fancy that gets the creative juices flowing.

  4. Hi! You are so not alone. I'm a fairly new beader wallowing in the angst that besets all fairly new beaders. You know I thought that I could make everything I saw that I liked and it would look as great as on the magazine page. I am so beyond that now. I've let the joy of playing with my beads be my guiding muse. Hardly anything turns out the way I thought it would be; and heaven help if I have to go back and make a small adjustment. I end up with an entirely new necklace! But even though I sometime make 3 and 4 versions of the same piece, I learn something new each time and each time the piece looks better than before. I've not shown anything for sale yet. I'm still building my inventory and learning along the way. I had just set up a rudimentary Excel spreadsheet when I saw the Stringing article. As soon as I finish this blog, I'm placing my order. Since I'm just starting out, I'm trying to start out corectly. You will soon be turning out great designs again. All of the best and I look forward to having you help me to stay organized

  5. Thanks everyone for your words of encouragement! And thank you Anon, for purchasing BeadEnCounter. :)

    I think that after the mad dash of getting ready for the holidays, I will be able to take a few days and Just Bead. Plenty of leftovers, pretend there's a blizzard outside (in Southern California yet!) and sit and bead. I'm looking forward to it.

  6. Isn't it interesting how situations can sound SO familiar?? Like the previous "Anonymous," I too saw the magazine article, and I've just downloaded the demo. I will probaby be buying, but for now, I've run into a problem: On the registration screen, I can't get past the request for a cell phone number. Not everyone has a cell phone! What do I do now? Jan R.

  7. Second Anonymous: I'm not sure what registration screen you're looking at. BeadEnCounter itself does not ask for a cell phone number, and will not require you to input any data. Is it the purchase screen on the web you're talking about? Or perhaps you're paying through Paypal and they're asking for a cell phone?

    In any case, when some web form asks for information I don't have or don't want to give, I enter fake information. I urge everyone to do the same. ;) At times, I'm a 99 year old man who lives in Barrow, Alaska.