Friday, December 9, 2011

The stubborn de-stash

About a month ago I posted my thoughts on creativity in relation to abundance and how I find the abundance of material things to inhibit creativity. As with everything, this isn't universally accurate but it proved to be spot on for me.
For years I have been buying jewellery and sewing related supplies, notions, tools, etc. My stash was expanding exponentially. It got to the point where I couldn't start any project without first buying something new. I've completely stopped buying fabric in August after realizing my supply was fast approaching 3 digit number in meters of fabric. Ouch!
But fabric is easy. I have a folder on my computer with pictures and dimensions of all the fabric in my stash. Beads are tricky. It's so easy to store them. They take very little space and somehow it always seems the amount of beads has doubled without really noticing it.
And then I had one of those moments of clarity when it hit me that I will always find some new fabric or unusual beads or whatever. So I made a decision not only to stop buying new supplies for a while but also to stop looking.
Working in a vacuum without outside sensory input was a bit weird at first but as it turned out it was essential for my creative process. Being constantly surrounded by images of other people's work as well as pining over new beads had completely numbed me.

The other problem I had was hoarding my "special" beads for a project worthy of their beauty. This tiger eye faceted pendant is a typical example. I've been holding on to this one for 5 years now.

I always knew I'd turn it into a necklace but could never find coordinating beads. Two days ago I paired it with the black beads and the helix crystals but didn't have nearly enough for a whole necklace. I was about to go back on my word not to buy new beads before I dug out the bronze seed beads. Turns out they were perfect for this project.

I made earrings using polymer clay beads I made in February. Completely and utterly weird but strangely lovable, I hadn't a clue what the heck to do with them.

And finally, a typical example of my bead tray: lots of blue, lots of ordinary round beads and some silver metal findings. I also have a great love of shell and mother of pearl beads. I was resolved to turn this tray of dull beads into something extraordinary.

It took me five hours and some re-shuffling but I came up with this completely out of the box necklace:

It's definitely eclectic but I don't think it looks awkward or forced.

After three days of intense beading I've learned that my beads are neither plain nor boring. The only thing obstructing my creativity was my perception of my supplies. As always I'm looking into different ways to combine colours and my designs are becoming bolder.


  1. (I hope this comment goes through-- Blogger has been blocking me lately.)

    It's so true about abundance (of materials or techniques) inhibiting creativity. I remember when I was in music school, studying composition. I had a great professor who would set severe limits on what techniques we could use in our writing for each assignment. It was challenging, but it forced us to focus on the music rather than trying out new "tricks". I wrote several things that year.

    Later, I had another professor who set no limits at all. I suppose it might have been good for advanced students, but all that freedom had a paralyzing effect on me. I didn't finish a single piece that year.

  2. I´m just admiring your patience with those beads and all the rest equipment. I could not do it, I could not.
    Hey, have you ever considered starting ( or perhaps you already do ) collecting ODD this and that pieces, pieces that are not beads, but might be used as such, small nice stuff you come across, and make art-jewelry pieces from unusual material?
    My favorite, Louise Treschow, uses only quirky stuff, utterly seldom does she use beads sold as such. As a result, her jewelry is very special.
    I believe that with your imagination, you could create your own pearls, etc : )!!

  3. I have many beads that i bought before but don't know what to do with them. I admire your creativity in utilizing your beads. Good job!

  4. I know what you mean. The more you have to work with, the more choices you have, the more overwhelming it becomes. You were very strong to avoid the temptation and look what you accomplished! That last necklace is a true testament to your creativity. Great work :)

  5. Thanks everyone for your uplifting comments :-D
    I wish you all a super nice weekend!

  6. I really, really like what you did with the tiger's eye necklace. As for choices stifling creativity, I'm not there yet, but the fabric pile does keep getting larger :).

    Have a great weekend!

  7. Susan: It isn't only fabric, I've got an impressive collection of patterns, inspirational photos, bookmarked pages on the web...It's so difficult to resist ;-)
    Happy weekend to you too!

  8. That tiger eye pendant is really cool. I love the earthy designs.

  9. Vanessa: Thanks :-) I'm really happy with the design of this necklace.