Dealing with Creative Blocks when Making Polymer Clay Beads

Whistler Mountain

“I would love to be in your head, maybe I could sling out this creative block that just will not GO AWAY…” ~Lynn-W

The question of how to overcome creativity challenges has come up recently in several threads here at the blog. You can read Lynn’s quote above. And here’s another from Aims…

I sit down and bingo – I haven’t got a clue of what I want to make. ~Aims

By the way, today’s photo is one of many shots from my recent getaway with the family up to Whistler Mountain. It’s about 3 hours north from where we live, with miles and miles of nature trails winding through grassy meadows filled with beautiful alpine flowers. A perfect place to clear your mind and get those creative juices flowing.

Although creativity blocks are rarely an issue for me, I know this is a common problem for many beginners. One reason may be that you put too much pressure on yourself to create something wonderful, without giving yourself permission to make mistakes.

You buy all the nice materials and don’t even open them, for fear that you’ll mess them all up. That fear then shuts the door to any artistic flow and you’re stopped in your tracks.

Sometime ago, I wrote about ways to help with this dilemma. Here is the link: Tips for Polymer Clay Artists on Overcoming Creative Blocks

In addition to the ideas in that article I just mentioned, sometimes just taking the time to sit down and play with your materials, with no expectation of making anything from them, will help get the creative juices flowing.

Take small balls of polymer clay in a couple of colors and play with them. Roll them, squash them, twist them together. Make a flower or a tube or a smiley face or coil and then smash it all up to start again. Try to roll it thin. Make a blend with it. Slice it in a million pieces.

You can even add junk to it, sand, paint, thread, glitter, whatever. See what it will do. Doesn’t matter. No rules, no expectations. You’re a kid with a hunk of clay. It most probably will be the most freeing and mind opening thing you will do for your creativity!

So next time you feel uninspired, sit down with a block of polymer clay and just play!

I recently asked my Polymer Clay Friends on Twitter what they do to deal with creativity challenges. This is what a few of them said:

Teach someone else to play with clay. Showing how always gets my creative juices flowing. @JennyArmitage

Beating creative block: Browse through the amazing Etsy & ArtFire shops. It’s visual dessert, and switches on creativity. @Beadspired

I get out of a creative slump by reading other crafter’s blogs (not just polymer clay). Organizing my workspace helps too! @kimisen

I go to Bead & Button Magazine for inspiration. They usually show something that will inspire me. @FoxieJewelry

What do you do re-kindle your creativity and get inspired? Please leave your comments below.

Cindy Lietz SignaturePolymer Clay Tutor

  1. Anna Sabina, 06 September, 2009

    PREMO, SCULPY and FIMO are 99 cents this week at Hobby Lobby!! I also found out Michael’s will give you a “Rain Check” for the sale price to be used in the future. Yesterday they were out of black and white Premo and they wrote me a rain check for 40 blocks at $1.25 each.

    Now i know that does not help with the creative block, it just gives us more clay. LOL

    My “day job” prevents me from spending as much times as I would like creating with clay. My youngest daughter just moved away to college and my husband and I are now are “empty nesters.” So, I don’t have to fight for computer time any more. I love looking through ETSY for idea, I have almost filed our hard drive with images. I also sign up for all swaps on Polymer Clay Central because it keeps me doing a project I may not usually do. i Like Cindy’s idea of just playing with clay ad seeing what happens. Some times i take a glob of scrap clay and run it through the Pasta Machine. If it comes out pretty I make a few beads with no particular project in mind, ; cuz I can never have enough. My biggest problem is figuring out how to put beads together in a finished project which is why I end up with “more beads and more beads and more beads”, they seem to multiply-Who new!!! Looking at other clayers work gives me ideas of colors and textures that look good together.

  2. Claycass, 06 September, 2009

    When I have a creative block, I like reading a good polymer clay book. I just purchased Lindy Haunani and Maggie Maggio’s book Polymer Clay Color Inspirations. It is a great book for stirring up those creative juices.

  3. Melinda, 06 September, 2009

    I wish I has a Hobby Lobby for the sale!!! Thanks Anna! Also Joanns has a sale on polymer clay: buy one get one free!

    I too love to browse through etsy and other shops. I google for polymer clay projects all the time. I also browse through jewelry shops for bead shapes and design ideas. I actually rarely have creative blocks anymore. Especially now that more and more people are asking for specific things… like rainbow turtles… It’s fabulous to work off of other people ideas and wants now. They give me that spark of an idea that can encompass a whole day or even a whole week.

  4. Jocelyn, 06 September, 2009

    Just for inspiration, I find a ride through the “next page” link at the bottom of the this blog’s home page always works well.

    All past projects and imagery float by, like imaging on google. Gets me going, lol.

    Also try the Google World function for real life imagery all over the world, daybreak or dusk. Incredible to see Paris street level during the blue hour live time.

    I also like volcanos, mid sea exploration (all those tiny creatures that glow and colorate), and deep dimensional textures in places like moonscapes, deserts, or polar ice cap territory. Like airial views too, each city, each farm has it’s own textures and patterns and coloration when seen from a distance above.

    Mostly though, for inspiration, I like to walk around and see stuff nearby, like the the first spring sun coming through the first greenery of the season, layering through the canopy, and I think to myself, dang, how could I make something that captures that moment out of polymer clay.

  5. Anna Sabina, 06 September, 2009

    Thanks for the info about Joanna’s. I usually check that site too but did not get to it today. JoAnn’s has Studio and that is not available at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s here.

  6. Freda, 06 September, 2009

    Looking at the stores at Etsy like Anna said helps me think of things I want to do. With Polymer Clay I seldom have a block, though. But color is another thing. What colors should I use in my next project? The ideas I get sometimes aren’t even related to what I’m looking at.

  7. Beadspiration, 06 September, 2009

    Cindy, this afternoon I sat down to work with my clay and just went blank. Then I remembered a boxful of vintage jewelry my friend Glenda had graciously sent my way. I had been taking apart pieces, thinking I might use them in a project someday.

    Once I got rolling, everything fell into place. Sometimes it just takes the act of BEGINNING to keep the creative ball rolling, you know? Here’s the results:

  8. Jocelyn, 07 September, 2009

    Beadspiration, wow. What an inspired study, love all the different elements and they all adhezed into an awesome unique piece, especially in that chocolate color! Love your linked site as well, could sit there for a long time looking at your work. Can see nature’s colors, patterns and textures in almost everything. Too cool.

  9. Freda, 07 September, 2009

    What a gorgeous piece. Very clever the way you put them together. I like the other pieces in your store also.

  10. Pearl, The Beading Gem, 08 September, 2009

    I like to do something else for a change and that usually refreshes me. I also love looking through my jewelry making books.

  11. Cindy Lietz, 10 September, 2009

    Wonderful ideas for finding inspiration everyone! Thank you so much for sharing them with us!

  12. Susan, 20 September, 2009

    To get my creative juices flowing I take a nice walk in the woods, clear my mind by the water. Then come back to the shop and begin to play with my clay. Works everytime!

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