Thursday, September 24, 2015

creativity and the importance of play

I came across the video How to Overcome the 3 Fears Every Creative Faces recently and it really resonated with me. He's a funny speaker and I think it's 20 minutes well spent. Christoph talks about the importance of playing around with new ideas and how that can fuel your work down the road. He calls it "creative life insurance." I enjoyed the part of his talk relating to the fear of running out of ideas. It's a real thing! I also appreciated that he mentioned how important the process is, not just the end goal. Lately, I've been guilty of head down, sewing all the things that I "have to" for one reason or another, but I can tell you, that definitely takes the joy of creating after a while. I haven't been able to get to the point of playing every single day, but I've been trying to make time to do so a little more each week. It's a good thing!

Here are few things I've been playing around with....
I can not resist playing with tiny pieces of fabric...and stringing a bunch together is a lot of fun. These are spare parts to put into something, someday. If I didn't have to worry about raw edges, I'd put them together in a layout very similar to this. I love the free-form randomness of it.
Could a log cabin block be built around a hexagon? Yep. And after googling it, I realized that has been done quite a bit. :) I decided to give it a try anyway, and I added in a strip of scrappy patchwork to change things up. I don't know that I will ever pursue this idea on a larger scale, but was a fun experiment.
Of course the flip side of this constant play is creating a WIP list a mile and a half long. I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with that, but I do see the value in taking time to explore new ideas.
I also pulled out my scrap vortex quilt and I have been slowly chipping away at that. This one satisfies my need to play (it's fun to see what color combination emerge in each block) AND I'm making progress on a WIP. Putting the existing blocks together makes for nearly instant gratification progress....and that NEVER hurts.

A few close friends of mine talk about this subject, specifically, sewing for fun vs. obligation on a reoccurring basis. I know that it's a real struggle for people who create...whether you create for a hobby or as a job. So, how about you? Do you find that balancing work vs. play is something that you struggle with? Which side of the fence do you find yourself on more often? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

38 comments:

Sarah Craig said...

An interesting post, Amanda Jean! And very timely, for me - I always get stressed out about this time of year, when people start realizing they want quilts and quilting done before Christmas, and I have my own personal list of things I want to make too. It can be a "head-down" time, but I try to only take on commissions that I will enjoy making, so that helps some. Plus I get to create the annual quilts for my grandkids, which is always a fun creative thing to do. It's hard to find time for "fun" right now, but occasionally I'll just kick over the traces and do something just for me. This afternoon, it was folding and petting my Good Neighbors FQ bundle so I can put it on the shelf and look at it for the next three months, wishing I had time to make it into something!

Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation said...

Yes, yes, and YES! Since I quit teaching to quilt, blog and design patterns full time, I have found that balance difficult to achieve. I always have the best of intentions to split up my day into sewing for "have-to" and "want-to" but most of the time I just do exactly what you mentioned- put my head down and plow through. When first starting a business, lots of orders is a blessing as well as somewhat of a problem, but it definitely can suck some of the joy out of it (I'm still on cloud nine that I was able to take this leap though). Thanks for the great reminder to take time to play and be creative!

:) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

Indexer said...

I handle the "want to" versus "must do" conflict by alternating. When I finish -- i.e. quilted, bound and labeled -- a "must do" project with a deadline, I treat myself with a chance to follow where a "want to" leads. And even though each "want to' project usually begs to be followed by another one, I can *usually* discipline myself to take something from the pile of UFO tops and finish it.

Andrea @ Rain Garden Quilts

Judy said...

I try to make every 'need to' quilt a learning/creative experience. However, at some point I usually get bored with it because I'm satisfied the idea will work, then the project becomes work. If left to my own devices I wouldn't finish anything. And like a petulant teenager who has to do something I'm always quite pleased with myself when it's finished.

Judith, Belfast said...

You're so right, playtime for adults is just as important as it is for children. 5 years ago my quilting hobby became my business. Now I need to find a new hobby as I find my creativity and motivation waning as I constantly work to deadlines and class remits. I can relate to your post very well. Jxo

Dresses and Spurs said...

Thanks for your inspiration! I enjoy seeing what you're working on.

Tubaville said...

Yes! I recently undertook a massive charity project. Fortunately, I'm my only boss and creative director so I make sure to have a few projects going to tickle my fancy. Check it out on Instagram #TeamCharityQuilts

Marie said...

Quilting (sewing/creating) is my fun. Life in the real world is full of numbers and politics (cpa/county commissioner) so I need fun. And I'm lucky it's always been enjoyable -- unfortunately I don't get to play every day -- but I try! 15 minutes in my sewing space is 15 minutes of attitude adjustment time!


Tami Von Zalez said...

I'm still a hobbyist and as Mr. VZ puts it - I am an obsessed quilter!

Izzy said...

I love your scrap vortex quilts. I call them Improv quilts because I learned to make them from Nancy Crow in the 80s . I made one by hand and just added pieces as I sewed along. It was the most satisfying quilt ever...

Linda Swanekamp said...

Well, I just left my sewing room beating my head against the wall fixing a quilt someone dumped on me to resurrect. It has sucked all the joy out of sewing as it is a big mess to begin with. I need some play. I have all the resources and fabric pieces- just how to begin now? Thanks for the insight.

Jessica said...

I try to alternate: a project I "have" to do, then a project I "want" to do (even if it's small). It really helps!

Bernie Kringel said...

Balance is hard to find. I have a small Etsy shop and I need to consistently spend time making items for it. I enjoy that and it helps pay for my fabric but sometimes I sew on those items and don't get to spend as much time quilting. But, it is still sewing and creating so that is a good thing!
Love that vortex quilt!!

Valerie Sowa said...

I sew purely for the fun and creative aspect of designing unique garments I can wear. My friends and family often tell me I "should" sell them and make a business. I feel that it would suck the joy right out of it. There is something so perfect in losing myself in the flow of making, I believe I'd lose that if I got paid for my work. It's important to have a hobby or interest that you do for pure fun.

Carie said...

Firstly you definitely have to sew the strip quilt up like that, it's awesome!! And as to creativity, I need some creative time in my day because my job is creative only with words. I fidget if I don't have a project on the go!!

Jenny L said...

I agree with Carie above the coloured strips are wonderful and you should definitely go with the flow. I can see your dilemma and think play time for someone who has made their career from their hobby is absolutely essential. As to me I'm afraid I'm a very selfish sewer. I'm a hobbyist only so don't have the deadlines and I assume in some cases prescribed patterns / fabrics to use. Whilst most of my quilts are gifted if someone has asked for a quilt then I take them through my Pinterest board for their preference. Needless to say everything on there are designs I'd like to make so win win all round.

JanetD said...

You are dead on! That's why I quilt mostly only for fun, family, and charity. My daughters tell me to have an etsy shop but I know it will take the joy out of quilting. I'm working on a scrap vortex quilt and absolutely love the free unencumbered sewing! Working on that helps me then get back to ufo's. Thanks for sharing your creativity with us all!

Andrea R said...

Yes YES! I love these kinds of posts!

I've been taking on more commissioned quilts and sometimes they suck the creative need right out of me. It's still quilting, but the drive to finish is just to get it done. There's no "play" in there. Sometimes I have to talk myself into challenges -like, okay for THIS customer quilt, let's focus on accurate cutting and piecing, to increase my skills there. Just to keep it interesting.

So right now, for me, this means leaving enough room to be able to switch to a bit of play between customer quilts. If I don't I get cranky. :) Sometimes I work on a non-quilted project and I'm been heavy into bag making all summer.

Carol- Beads and Birds said...

Balance is illusive. Years ago I crafted for love. Then my husband lost his job for two years during a Recession. Crafting for income became obsessive. Constantly striving to determine what the public would buy in the next season became far too stressfull. That lasted 5 years before I became burned out. Now I have retired and am finding so much gratification in "just" stitching to satisfy myself. It's liberating. I hope you find your balance because you are so extremely talented.

Here's to a great and relaxing weekend.
xx, Carol

stamperwithdayjob said...

I work full time at a law firm and quilt for gifts and myself. There are times I am so jealous when I read blogs when it seems like they just get to quilt all the time, but it has to be stressful. Like Carol said, I used to do craft fairs and it is so stressful to know what people will buy and more importantly what they will pay for something you've spent so much precious time creating. Love your blog and your creativity. You inspire so many of us - so thank you for that.

Suzanne said...

I like where you are going with these thoughts. I want to join the community of creative folks who reap monetary benefits for their work and ideas but I'm not sure the payoff is what I really think it is. So for now, I juggle my own creative deadlines and even those can get me bogged down. There is joy in creating. I want to always Devote myself to its pursuit. Thanks for the video link.

JanineMarie said...

I don't quilt for a living anymore, so I don't have pressures that people who do it for a living have, but I do sometimes have self-imposed timelines (I don't like the word deadline) for projects--such as baby quilts to finish before a baby arrives. I try to leave space in my quilting, though, to make something "just because"--maybe every third or fourth project. It might be something for myself, or something I'll donate, but it gives me a way to make something that doesn't have to fit someone else's specification (or my perception of what they'd like) for size, color or design.

Debora Exum said...

Your tiny scrappy strips remind me of your blog header. Love the color and fun of them. Recently, I have been intentionally increasing my blog activity. It is fun for now but I can see how it would be easy to lose sight of the balance and eventually burn out. Thank you for the reminder to always be mindful of that so that it stays fun.

Emily Camfield said...

I quilt and sew for fun. I make things for other people, but they are still things that I choose to make.
I've thought about sewing things to sell, and ultimately I've just decided that's not how I want to spend my time. I already have a full time job to pay the bills; my sewing time is for me!

Marla said...

Sometimes deadlines interfere with my creative drive, and sometimes questioning myself about whether an idea is "unique". Spending a little time sketching, or playing with bits of fabric each day helps me find joy in making, as well as asking the question "what if...?"

Anne / Springleaf Studios said...

Your post hit a nerve with me at the moment. After spending the last few weeks with obligation sewing I find my joy in quilting waning. For that reason I've let many submission deadlines pass by. I want to get back to the fun of quilting and playing with fabrics. I desperately need to make whatever I feel inspired to for no reason in particular. Balance is not a word I've very familiar with . . . need to work on that so I can manage both obligation and personal sewing with equal dedication and joy.

Melissa Koehn said...

YES! I have a friend that feels that way also. We have started getting together occasionally for a "procraftination" day. Working on projects that WE WANT to do. Rather renews the mental processes for us. Sometimes all we can manage is an "crafternoon" but it helps!

desertskyquilts said...

I do like the hexagon with the scrappy row.

jenni said...

Right now I am working in a baby quilt my brother requested for his dear friends. I don't like their color choices do I am struggling. I'm having to force myself to get it done! I have been rewarding myself by working on a scrappy quilt in between!

NebraskaNative said...

I've done a lot of thinking about this recently and I've discovered that I promise myself I'll get into my studio, but only AFTER I get everything else crucial done first...and then I never get there because I move the goalposts and the day comes to a close. I definitely feel restless when I haven't had time to create and I'm vowing to remind myself of it's importance and value and then allow myself to get in there and create! Your blog is the best inspiration around!!!

the zen quilter said...

First of all, love the results of your play! Secondly, I struggle with whether my art has a larger purpose all the time. I'm so driven to create, but I'm in no way making living from it, although I would like to. I figure if it ever does happen it will be like everything else - some of it won't be fun, it will be just work, but at the same time, my work will be something I love to do in general, even if I don't love every moment of it. I was a teacher for many years and I loved teaching so much sometimes I forgot that I was getting paid. But that doesn't mean that I loved every moment of it - and sometimes the not so fun parts took up way more of my time than I wanted but just reminding yourself like you did recently is enough to realize it is time to put on the party shoes and dance will make the grunt work more fun.

Liz said...

Thank you for the information on Christoph! I really enjoyed the video and what he had to say. Your work continues to be so fun and inspiring!

Chez Vies said...

Few weeks ago I talked to my husband about this very topic. There's so many (fun) things I want to try and make, but always ended up doing what "I have to" (ie: custom orders), which at times became like a "creative block". What I usually do is, I start doing what "I want to do" for a day or two and then get back to what "I have to do". Now, I must check the video :)

Darlene said...

I quilt for fun and have run out of family and personal occasions to make quilts for so I do a lot of charity quilts. You work with fabrics you are given and that takes some of the creativity out of it. I enjoy reading blogs and seeing all the ideas out there and take some time to just run with a new project. Consequently I have many UFO's but quilting is my therapy to deal with personal losses. Thanks for all your inspiration, I enjoy your use of color.

Nicole J said...

Since I do not sew for work, all creating that I do is for fun. I don't think I would want it to be any other way. I notice that as soon as I have a deadline- even a self-created one- I instantly slow down and my creative process begins to tank. So I don't think I'd do too well with any sort of creative pursuit as my source of income! For me, sewing is fun, what I reward myself with, what I look forward to, and I can feel myself breathe and get happy just walking into my sewing room. I always want it to be that way!

Sandy said...

I need to sew for fun more often than I do, that's for sure. It's so liberating. One of my goals this year was to spend some time in my sewing room every day, and except for the 3 months it took to recover after breaking my arm, I've done reasonably well with that. NEXT year though I think the goal will be sewing FOR FUN a little bit every day! lol LOVE LOVE LOVE your work!

SarahZ said...

I played today (Sunday), and boy did it feel good!!! I am beginning to think of my sewing projects as "Sweet and Salty"...when I finish up something big (sweeet), I find I immediately make something small and relatively quick and unplanned (salty)...sweet and salty...and maybe just a wee bit silly! Thanks for a super post..so timely!

Cindy Maki said...

I always have Hexies sitting by my chair and in my car. I think I have 4 million or so. LOL. This time of year the garden and winter food processing takes precedence over everything else. Plus I am making feed bag totes for a friend to sell at a market in Oct. I am beginning to hate these totes. They are boring, difficult to work and don't really net much money. However my friend promised to bring some to market this year for her regular customers. Don't you just love when someone makes a promise YOU have to keep? SEW on all!!