Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Artfully Meandering: How do you create? Are you messy or organized?

I was reading through last year's journal and trying to pull out the creative ideas and designs for this year's journal. I ran across this little thought: how do you create? Are you a messy artist? Or are you an organized artist?

I go both ways. My artistic breakthroughs come from a messy desk, from serendipitous moments where things that I wouldn't consciously place next to each other somehow end up next to each other and create an unexpected "aha" moment for the creative side.

On the other hand, productivity comes from a clean desk. My most prolific moments come from a nice, neat, freshly cleaned desk and workspace.

So, I try to make room for both...embrace my messiness for a while and then take time to clean up to embrace productivity.


I don't have the space/money to invest in seed beads for now, so I've been purchasing some of Beverly Ash Gilbert's dreamy bead soups and medleys. Here is my first practice at one of the projects. I need to wait for the official thread, needs, etc., but I've enjoyed playing with her medleys. They are so rich and deep, I can't wait to do more and include gems in these pieces.

Polymer Clay

I've been seriously dabbling in clay. It's nice because you don't need a ton of tools. Unfortunately, I've had to sacrifice many pieces as I figured out that my little toaster oven was way too hot. I think I have it on its lowest settings and it still burns things from time to time.

Below are my first efforts. Kind of messy and splooshy. And toasted. But, every little ugly experiment moves me forward.

I really want to make beads for jewelry, so here is a first attempt at beads. I'm trying to figure out if I want to make holes before (so far, they're very messy) or drill after curing. I'm undecided for now. Another struggle I'm having is making the decorations clear and crisp. They're very smushy.

Eni Oken started a sister site to Jewelry Lessons called Clay Lessons. I've purchased some of the tutorials (particularly the ones by jkayjewelry) and I've been learning the exciting side of slicing into cane. Below is the first attempt at cabochon. (All pieces are unfinished as I still need sandpaper and varnish.)

Second cabochon. I really like this one and want to finish it off.

These last two pictures are my latest batch...I'm progressing! I love how a simple technique like the Skinner blend can really make a basic piece look much more sophisticated. I'm learning some cane techniques that I would love to experiment with and try in glass at some point.

The same pieces as the above picture, but the back side. I've decorated both sides of most of the pendants.

I'm beginning to embrace working between mediums to see if I can cross-pollinate some of the techniques and move my overall skill forward. Funnnnn!!!!


  1. Thanks for sharing your creative output lately, you've been a busy lady! I love the blue cabochons, they look super now before finishing! I wonder if you've seen the beads made from potatoes on Caroline's blog at Uniqart (she's a fellow follower of Laura Sparling's blog).

  2. PS I'm messy in the main though I much PREFER to be tidy! Had a big clean up over the Christmas holidays and am being very good keeping everything in it's place for the time being. Like yourself, though - I find the very best eureka moments come from messiness :-)

  3. Thank you, Sue! And thank you for pointing out Caroline's potato beads. How interesting and creative!

    I can relate to you on being messy in the main although preferring tidiness. I grew up a slob and work to stay in the tidy zone. I do enjoy a tidy home and workplace. It makes work easier.

  4. Awesome clay!

    I am both a messy and an organized designer -- things are everywhere, but I know where they are and what I have to do, and there are always tons of lists and notebooks around that get attention.

  5. Hey Jenn

    Your polymer work is awesome - love the bright colour combos. I think you have definitely found a new skill.

    Thanks for the link to the Clay Lessons site - I didn't know about that one.

    I think I will have to put myself under the label of 'messy designer' - I try very hard to stay organised and clear up my working area... but in the blink of an eye, it's a jumble again!

    BTW... I have awarded you a 'Sunshine Award' - please follow this link:

    Kristin :)

  6. I am mostly a messy artist. Thru the eyes of my husband, my studio typically appears messy but I actually know exactly where things are.

    I like to work in a neat environment too. I DO tidy up in between creative bursts. It feels good to work like this too but its not a natural way of working for me.

    So, maybe I'm like you....a little bit of both :)

  7. Hi Lovely I have nominated you for a Sunshine award xx

  8. Your green necklace is beautiful...looks like you've been experimenting like crazy, good for you...I also embrace a certain amount of messiness whiles creating but try to clean up between every project and indeed that when the productivity has a chance to recharge, its neat to hear that you follow the same routine...I love following your creative journey...and hope the head pain has abaited...

  9. Hi, Kerin Rose, Lori, Kristin, and Mandy - it sounds like I'm in good company with "creatively messy" and "productively organized."

    Kristin & Mel - thanks so much for the lovely award. I have to figure out how to narrow my list down to only 12 to pass along...

    Mandy - yes, my headaches are improving. Yay! I'm holding my breath to see how long it holds.

  10. Hi! I find my organization runs in cycles much like my creative cycles. I will get on a creative roll and just can't stop putting ideas into clay form but then I'll hit a slow spot and the organization bug takes over :)

    Your clay work is looking fabulous!You might have run across some of this info already but the "mooshiness" in your projects might have to do with the brand of clay you use (I am guessing maybe Sculpy III?) Some other brands that you might try are Kato or Fimo (they take more work to condition but are stiffer and smoosh much less). Also, I find that a tool like a knitting needle or similar smooth surface can be used before curing to smooth out a lot of finger prints so that you don't have to sand quite as much (I hate sanding :)

    I love your blog, btw!

  11. Kate - thank you so much for stopping by my blog and giving me some useful pointers in clay! I was hoping some polymer artists would stop by and give me a pointer or two. I'm reading the books and gleaning things. I like the knitting needle trick you suggested! I have a number needles laying around that can be put to good use. I also bought some small glass "shelves" that I'm using for pressing. Yes, the smooshy clay was Sculpey III. I found I can purchase Fimo locally and like the finish, but I hate getting it started because it's so crumbly for me. I'm sure I'll learn to work with and love it in time. :-)