Constructive Creativity

There are infinite creative possibilities. I rarely have a lack of ideas. Honing in on one I’ll see through to the end, however, is the big task. I’ve developed a list of things to consider before I go all in on a project. Chances are, I’ve got some of the materials at home, but I’ll also need a store run to get that one item… If you find yourself with lots of half done projects or incomplete ideas, here’s a tool you can use to navigate the strange landscape of inspiration.

 

Time

 

Realistically, when do I plan on making this? Do I have two jobs, or five teenagers, or am I serving on a board of trustees somewhere? Generally speaking, those responsibilities can break in one of two ways. They either fuel the need for an outlet, or they demand all available attention. If the former is true, all nighters are an option and having everything available is important at 3 am. If the latter is the case, I recommend jotting ideas in a project journal. Idea descriptions can be as simplistic or as complicated as they need in order to jog your memory.

Budget

How much money am I willing to spend? Will my project require an investment which leaves me with Top Ramen for the rest of the month? I tend to go all out with my materials, because, for me, working with a high quality product brings a different level of pleasure to an activity. If the color is perfectly saturated, and the texture is divine, you’ll likely enjoy each step of the process, and use the finished item. The best part, however, is that the result of your efforts will be long lasting.

Perceived Value + Benefits

Do I need another handbag? No. Do I need a different handbag? Perhaps. Evaluating similar items to the ones you currently have can inform your choices. For example, the fact that I own 35 cute little purses doesn’t speak much to my needs as a commuter. Creating something utilitarian and attractive will definitely be valuable. The benefit is having the perfectly sized laptop pocket, and the right amount of room to stash all of the basics needed for a full day. Another example would be a gift item. Let’s say a baby quilt. Having a handmade item to give to a new parent is always satisfying, and often those gifts go on to become special parts of a young person’s life. Everyone can benefit from that.

Attention Span

This one is tricky and requires some introspection. Do you have days when you just can’t focus? Maybe even months? These are the times when choosing a simple, quick project is a good plan. Large printed panels for quilters, or a basic unlined skirt for a garment maker would be perfect. Instant gratification, crafter’s style. Alternately, let’s say you’ve just finished reading War and Peace. That’s a good sign that you can take on something more intricate, perhaps even epic! This is the time to go for it! Dive into that rabbit hole and see where it takes you. These projects often end with some good stories, and are great source of pride.

Gut

Do I love, love, love this? Has a fabric spoken to me and told me what it wants to be? Some things just need to be made, and that’s all there is to it. If you feel this way, do what the creative voices tell you to do, and trust that everything else will work itself out. It will. Going with your gut is a good practice across the board, and creative endeavors are no exception.

Reflect

Even with a handy list, you will inevitably find yourself with a lump of something in a corner, or a table stacked with bits and pieces of a project. When you do (I would say “if,” but I feel like I know this audience), it’s ok to stop. Honestly. Creative endeavors needn’t be torturous decades culminating in magical masterpieces. Use your powers for good. Allow that creative spark to thrive by knowing when to walk away from something that just isn’t working for you anymore. My theory is the process of making something marks a moment in the evolution of our lives. We aren’t who we’ve always been, and we’re not who we’ll always be, and sometimes goals need to reflect the process and respect it.

I hope this list can help you find the perfect project for your unique time and place. We’re always here to help!

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